More than 2,000 firefighters worked to contain a fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Yosemite National Park, authorities said late Tuesday, and some evacuated residents were allowed back to their homes.
The Junction Fire, which started Monday afternoon in the town of Oakhurst and had been moving north, was about one-third contained Tuesday evening. The burn area covered 612 acres, or 1 square mile. That's half of the prior estimate, due to more accurate mapping, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) said.
Evacuation orders had been physically handed to 1,000 people and warnings reached 4,000 others, Madera County sheriff's office spokeswoman Erica Stuart said. As a light rain began to fall Tuesday evening, mandatory evacuation orders had been lifted for Highway 41 and all areas west of Highway 41.
Yosemite National Park, about 16 miles from Oakhurst, is not in immediate danger, Stuart said. Highway 41 into Yosemite was reopened.
Changing winds, elevation and foliage such as manzanita had made it difficult for firefighters to contain the fire, which injured two people, destroyed eight structures and threatened 500. On Tuesday afternoon, CalFire sent up helicopters to determine how much of the fire had been contained.
The Yosemite Unified School District and Bass Lake District canceled classes Tuesday.
The Junction Fire is one of a handful of mostly inland wildfires burning in California, which is suffering an extreme drought.