Updated Jul 26, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Wildfire near Yosemite is now California's biggest this season

Air Tanker 162 makes a fire retardant drop at the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
An air tanker drops fire retardant drop on the Oak Fire near Mariposa, Calif., on Sunday. Photo: David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

The massive wildfire near California's Yosemite National Park forced thousands more people to evacuate on Monday and had burned across more than 17,200 acres at 16% containment in the evening, per Cal Fire.

The big picture: The Oak Fire in Mariposa County, where a state of emergency has been declared, is now California's biggest blaze this wildfire season despite only igniting on Friday amid face hot, dry conditions.

Yes, but: The Oak Fire showed signs of slowing after more than doubling in size over the weekend.

  • Cal Fire said firefighters saw "minimal growth on the fire" on Monday after some 300,000 gallons of water was dropped on the blaze.
  • Evacuation orders had, consequently, been reduced to fire advisements in some areas, according to Cal Fire.

Threat level: The wildfire has razed 55 structures and forced the closure of a highway near Yosemite, which is still recovering from the Washburn Fire that threatened the world's oldest giant sequoia trees earlier this month.

  • The Oak Fire has caused "poor air quality" in Yosemite, per a statement from the park.
  • An air quality advisory for the San Francisco Bay Area was expanded through Wednesday due to the fire. However, air quality was forecast to be good to moderate as smoke from the Oak Fire was expected to remain aloft.
  • "Smoky, hazy skies may be visible across the Bay Area and the smell of smoke is possible at higher elevations," the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said in a statement.

By the numbers: Nearly 3,000 firefighting personnel have been deployed to tackle the wildfire, along with 24 helicopters, 68 water tenders and other firefighting resources, according to Cal Fire.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: While the fire's rapid growth rate is impressive, it pales in comparison to the megafires we've seen in recent years.

The bottom line: It doesn't bode well for the state, given the fire season in parts of California continues into October or November.

Go deeper: America is staring down a summer of disasters

Editor's note: This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Go deeper