For the past 24 years, Leif Haugen has spent his summers living alone atop a mountain in Montana’s pristine wilderness. As a fire lookout for the U.S. Forest Service, Leif is charged with protecting the surrounding landscape, watching for signs of fire from his solitary perch. Spending up to two weeks alone at a time, he spends his days unwinding amid the peace and quiet, watching as the world passes him by.
A massive, fast-burning wildfire is raging west of Yosemite National Park in California, forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes. The fire exploded in size on Wednesday, July 19 to 19 424 hectares (48 000 acres). It has so far scorched 19 424 hectares (48 000 acres) and is only 7% contained. At least 29 structures have so far been destroyed, 5 were damaged and another 1 500 are threatened.
Detwiler Fire began Sunday afternoon, July 16, 2017, and has so far forced more than 5 000 people to evacuate, including all 2 000 residents in the town of Mariposa.
California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County on Tuesday due to the fire, which he said had damaged power, water and communication infrastructure and forced the closure of major highways and local roads in the area. By July 20, at least 29 structures have been destroyed, 5 were damaged and another 1 500 are threatened.
According to CalFire officials, the fire is very dynamic and exhibiting extreme behavior.
On Wednesday, July 19, the blaze exploded to 19 424 hectares (48 000 acres), an increase of about 9 307 hectares (23 000 acres) compared with the day before. There are about 3 175 firefighters on the scene, 413 fire engines, 9 air tankers and 14 helicopters.
As of 21:00 PDT on July 19 (04:00 UTC, July 20), the fire is only 7% contained.
— CAL FIRE PIO (@CALFIRE_PIO) July 20, 2017
— CIIMT1 – PIO (@Info_CIIMT1) July 20, 2017
According to officials, the fire is threatening power lines that provide electricity to Yosemite National Park. It is currently some 56 km (35 miles) away from the park, but Highway 140 from Mariposa into Yosemite Valley has been closed.
The public is asked to heed all evacuation orders and warnings. For information about how to prepare for evacuation please visit: www.readyforwildfire.org.
Featured image: Massive wildfire raging west of Yosemite National Park in California – July 2017. Credit: CalFire