A huge wildfire raging for the third day on Sunday in central California destroyed land of over 14,000 acres and displaced over 6,000 people from rural communities.
According to CNN, the state fire officials said that the fire began on Friday and remained 0 per cent contained on Sunday in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada near the small community of Midpines, roughly a 9-mile drive northeast of the county seat, the town of Mariposa.
Governor of California, Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County after the fire forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. Activating a state of emergency allows for additional resources to aid in response to the fire, a news release from his office said.
The Yosemite National Park preserves the world's oldest and largest trees, one of the most visited national parks in the United States. Located in the southern portion of Yosemite, the historic tree grove is home to over 500 mature giant sequoias, including the 3,000-year-old Grizzly Giant tree.
The visuals from the site showed that the flames tore through trees and sent thick smoke into the sky Friday, and in at least one rural area burned close to homes and parked vehicles.
A resident of the Mariposa Pines area, Wes Detamore said, "Authorities came by ... and told us everybody's got to go," adding that the Electricity service in the area stopped Friday at about 4 pm, "and the fire has been coming towards us faster and faster," Detamore added.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, said that the fire had destroyed at least 10 structures and damaged another five on Saturday, CNN reported.
"At that time, the blaze was threatening 2,000 other structures, Cal Fire said.
"It had burned 6,555 acres by Saturday morning and nearly 12,000 that evening. Fire activity was extreme, and emergency personnel were working to evacuate people and protect buildings," the department added.
The department said that as many as eleven fire crews with more than 400 personnel, as well as 45 fire engines and four helicopters, have been assigned to fight the flames.
The Oak Fire is the largest of California's currently active wildfires, a few dozen miles southwest of Yosemite National Park's southern edges, CNN reported.
The blaze comes as much of the US has been experiencing an extreme heat wave this week, with parts of California seeing temperatures in the triple-digits.
Wildfires scorching the western US in recent years have become more common due to worsening drought conditions fueled by climate change.
Experts say bone-dry drought conditions and overgrown forests have enabled even the smallest sparks to explode into an inferno, which has led to a sharp increase.
In California alone, more than 2.5 million acres were burned in nearly 9,000 fires last year, according to Cal Fire.