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Wildfire in Central California grows overnight

Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 5:31 p.m. CST

MARIPOSA, Calif. (AP) — State fire officials brought in hundreds of additional firefighters to battle a Central California blaze that had burned through 1.4 square miles as of Tuesday morning and was threatening up to 100 rural homes.

The fire burning in foothills near Lake McClure in Mariposa County nearly doubled in size overnight and was 20 percent contained, state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said. So far, residents in just 50 of the threatened homes are being urged to evacuate, sheriff's officials said.

Berlant said about 500 firefighters were battling the Hunters Fire on Tuesday morning, up from 100 firefighters when the blaze began a day earlier.

The fire — fueled by dry brush — was burning in steep terrain that crews were having difficulty accessing. Temperatures were also expected to be in the 90s on Tuesday. Berlant said air tankers and helicopters were being used to fight the blaze.

"This fire is burning like it would in summer with the dry conditions we've been experiencing," Berlant said.

The fire began on Monday afternoon as a structure fire, Berlant said. No additional structures were damaged or destroyed as of Tuesday morning, Berlant said.

The Mariposa County Sheriff's Office notified about 50 residents of the fire that they knew of in the threatened area. First, residents were called by phone and then deputies knocked on doors in person, said Kristie Mitchell, a department spokeswoman.

Mitchell said she didn't know how many left their homes.

"If they want to leave or not that is up to them," she said.

Meanwhile, a fire burning in and around Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona continued to grow in size even though firefighters have established a containment line around all of it.

The fire's size increased from 28.9 square miles Monday evening to 31.7 square miles Tuesday morning because of burnout operations intended to deprive the flames of fuel.

The fire's official containment figure remains at 35 percent because some areas within the containment line still have active low-intensity fire, while others remain hot to the touch.

Firefighters spotted a small and possibly historic cabin while conducting a burnout operation on a steep side in the area of Oak Creek Canyon. The crew removed debris from around the cabin and placed a layer of protective fabric around it.

The human-caused fire started May 20.

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