National Air Guardsmen took off from Moffett Airfield in Mountain View in the hopes of gaining control of several wildfires raging in the Yosemite area - spots that are popular with many Northern California residents trying to enjoy their last week or two of summer vacation.
That crew from the 129th Air Rescue Wing joined other firefighters across the state to battle what's been dubbed the Rim Fire - a wildfire that broke out Saturday in the Stanislaus National Forest area just outside Yosemite.
It exploded in size overnight. As of Wednesday, the fire was 5 percent contained and had spread to more than 16,000 acres or 25 square miles, which is basically the same size as the city of Gilroy.
An advisory evacuation order was posted for all of Pine Mountain Lake Wednesday afternoon.
Nearly 900 personnel were sent in to battle the blaze.
The destructive wildfire is threatening some 2,500 structures, which forced the shutdown of a highway into Yosemite National Park.
A four mile stretch of State Route 120 is closed in both directions, blocking traffic in and out of Yosemite on its west side, though the park remains open.
Two homes and seven outbuildings have burned.
Wednesday afternoon update:
The north end of the fire has crossed the Clavey River and is burning in remote and steep terrain. The north end is not threatening any structures at this time. Due to inaccessible, steep terrain and active fire behavior a combination of direct and indirect attack will be used on this incident. The fire burned actively with a southward spread of the fire over Highway 120. Direct line suppression efforts are impeded by difficult access and steep inaccessible terrain. A combination of direct and indirect attack will be used on this incident. Active fire behavior today raises safety concerns for crews adjacent to the fire’s edge. Smoke exposure within the deep drainage of the Clavey River will be an issue for fire crews as well.
There are 10 major wildfires burning in California, and the Rim Fire is among the largest. A total of 22 firefighters from cities in Alameda County were also dispatched on Tuesday from Livermore to help out.
"The weather is not cooperating, and it's relatively unfriendly terrain," said Alameda County Fire Special Operations Chief Rob Schnepp. "This is growing in intensity."
Several camps were evacuated Tuesday as a safety precaution. Those include: San Jose Family Camp, Berkeley Tuolomne Camp, San Francisco's Mather Camp, and Camp Tawonga. All are within five miles of the Rim Fire.
Camp Tawonga sent out emails and Facebook posts telling people there was no immediate risk to the camp property, where a large black oak tree fell in July and killed a counselor in a separate tragic accident this summer.
And as of Wednesday, none of Camp Tawonga had been burned . Still, the camp directors canceled a family camp program this weekend for safety reasons.
Jessica Cannon of Oakland was set to go to Tawonga this weekend but now, because of the road closure, has made other plans: She and five other families are going camping somewhere else.
Also on Tuesday, about 160 acres burned at the Camp Parks Military Base near Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Investigators are looking into what started the Rim Fire.
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