A wildfire at the foot of the Sierra Nevada has damaged homes after growing to more than 10 square miles and prompting the mandatory evacuation of two small Northern California towns near the Nevada state line.
The unusual winter blaze on the border of Inyo and Mono counties near the Mammoth Lakes resort is 30 percent contained, Cal Fire Capt. Liz Brown said Saturday. Dying winds and rain have helped crews stop the fire's growth.
Twenty structures, including homes and outbuildings, have been damaged or destroyed, Brown said. One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.
A few dozen people were evacuated Friday from Town of Paradise and Swall Meadows, two rural communities northwest of Bishop.
The highway from Southern California to Mammoth Lakes, US-395, reopened Saturday though the fire doubled in size overnight. Two-hundred firefighters in 29 crews were battling the blaze, according to Cal Fire.
Seventeen Orange County firefighters in five specially equipped engines drove overnight to reach the fire, according to OC Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi. The assistance is part of a statewide mutual aid system that he called the "best in the nation."
This vegetation fire is unusual in that February is usually a rainy month, Concialdi confirmed.
"It just goes to show you how dry it's been," Concialdi said. "Even if it rains, when the wind picks up -- which it does -- it rapidly dries out the vegetation."
The fire's cause is under investigation.
Photo Credit: California Dept. of Transportation, Dist. 9