Fire Near Yosemite National Park Destroys 58 Homes, Displaces Thousands

About an hour’s drive outside California’s Yosemite National Park, the Mariposa Lodge was empty Friday, save for front desk clerk Sara Beskind.

A wildfire has been burning for five days, forcing Mariposa’s 2,000 residents to evacuate. With the fire kept outside the town for now, Beskind says she and others with jobs in town are allowed past roadblocks that keep others out.

Her chief reason for working Friday: answering the phone, canceling Friday-night reservations for would-be guests and telling them she’s not sure when the hotel can have people stay there again.

“People can’t get in, so we have no choice but to sort of be closed,” Beskind said by phone Friday morning. “We’re just taking it day by day, minute by minute, trying to hang on the best we can.”

The Detwiler Fire, which started Sunday near Lake McClure, has destroyed 58 homes and burned more than 74,000 acres in Mariposa County west of Yosemite, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

Authorities evacuated Mariposa town residents on Tuesday as the fire neared. As of Friday morning, firefighters appear to have stopped the flames’ advance toward the town, but the fire’s movements have been hard to predict and Mariposa remained under evacuation orders, Cal Fire spokesman Andy Isolano said.

Around 5,000 people have been evacuated throughout the county, with some staying at outlying Red Cross shelters, left to wonder when they’ll be allowed back to their homes. Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency for the county.

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SOURCE: CNN, Jason Hanna