Tags: yosemite national park | wildfire

Yosemite National Park Open Despite Massive Wildfire Raging Nearby

Image: Yosemite National Park Open Despite Massive Wildfire Raging Nearby

By Alexandra Ward   |   Friday, 23 Aug 2013 10:35 AM

An out-of-control wildfire raging just outside Yosemite National Park prompted California Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency Thursday, but the park campgrounds and attractions remain open even though the blaze has quadrupled in size.

The flames started Saturday and quickly grew to more than 84 square miles. As of Thursday, it was only 2 percent contained, down from 5 percent a day earlier. The quick-spreading fire is the fourth largest in the nation, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, and one of 50 large blazes burning in the western states.

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"We got a monster on our hands," Lee Bentley of the U.S. Forest Service told CBS News. "This fire is making its own weather. It's going every which direction. This is one of the worse I've ever been on. I've been doing [it] for quite a few years.

But Yosemite officials maintain that the fire is not a threat to the park, which is clear of smoke.

"The fire is totally outside the park," spokesman Scott Gediman told CBS News. "The park's very busy, people are here. There's no reason that they should not come."

The blaze had burned more than 63,000 acres as of Thursday night as close to 2,000 firefighters tried to contain it, NBC News reported. Officials issued a voluntary evacuation this week of the 2,500 structures that are in direct line of the fire.

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