Thursday, October 23, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Wildfire Forces Two Native American Communities To Evacuate

By Rebeka Silva r.silva@hngn.com | Jun 17, 2014 12:28 AM EDT

Remains of 2013 Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest in California
U.S. National Forest Service forester Marty Gmelin looks out at charred remnants of the 2013 Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest in California May 30, 2014 (Photo : Reuters)

Navajo Nation police to issue an evacuation order for parts of Naschitti and nearby Sheep Springs were forced to evacuate residents of two Native American communities near the New Mexico-Arizona border on Monday as strong winds fanned the flames of a wildfire burning in the Chuska Mountains, according to The Associated Press.

About 400 people live in the area, and fire managers said those who have yet to leave have been put on notice that more evacuations could be possible, the AP reported.

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The wildfire has already destroyed three structures and blackened some three square miles of forest land near Sequoia National Park, officials said, according to the AP. Sequoia National Park encompasses some 400,000 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains and is famed for its giant sequoia trees.

More than 1,100 firefighters were battling the so-called Shirley Fire, which erupted on Friday evening on the park's outskirts northeast of Bakersfield and prompted the evacuation of several foothill communities, the AP reported.

The flames jumped containment lines on Saturday, fueled by high winds and dry brush, according to the U.S Forest Service, despite the efforts of water-dropping helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, according to the AP. No injuries have been reported from the blaze.

The nose gear of an air tanker aiding in the firefighting efforts collapsed on returning to Fresno Airport on Sunday evening, the Forest Service said, damaging the plane but leaving the two crew members unhurt, the AP reported.

So far three homes have been burned to the ground and another was damaged, although two of those dwellings were apparently abandoned, according to the Forest Service, according to the AP.

California's fire season has been particularly severe this year, with one of the worst droughts in the state's history playing a substantial role in the size and number of wildfires across the state, the AP reported.

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