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Crews make gains on 2 California wildfires

  • California-Wildfires-166

    Cal Fire crew members mop up embers of the Sand Fire in the rugged foothills of El Dorado county near Plymouth, Calif., on Monday, July 28, 2014, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

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  • California-Wildfires-167

    Over a hundred residents of El Portal, Calif., on the western edge of Yosemite National Park listen to park and fire officials about the status of the evacuation and the fire in their community on Monday, July 28, 2014. Residents were told they could return to their homes at 9am Tuesday. (AP Photo/The Fresno Bee, Mark Crosse) LOCAL PRINT OUT (VISALIA TIMES-DELTA, REEDY EXPONENT, KINGBURG RECORDER, SELMA ENTERPRISE, HANFORD SENTINEL, PORTERVILLE RECORDER, MADERA TRIBUNE, THE BUSINESS JOURANL FRENSO); LOCAL TELEVISION OUT (KSEE24, KFSN30, KGE47, KMPH26)

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  • California-Wildfires-168

    Old El Portal resident Steve Speltz talks about the El Portal fire and the reasons he decided not to evacuate from his home, at right, on Monday, July 28, 2014, in El Portal, Calif. He has lived there since 1979 and the local fire department is right across the street and he felt there was no danger to himself, his home and his two cats.(AP Photo/The Fresno Bee, Mark Crosse) LOCAL PRINT OUT (VISALIA TIMES-DELTA, REEDY EXPONENT, KINGBURG RECORDER, SELMA ENTERPRISE, HANFORD SENTINEL, PORTERVILLE RECORDER, MADERA TRIBUNE, THE BUSINESS JOURANL FRENSO); LOCAL TELEVISION OUT (KSEE24, KFSN30, KGE47, KMPH26)

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  • California-Wildfires-169

    Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher talks about the fire situation in El Portal , Calif., on July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/The Fresno Bee, Mark Crosse) LOCAL PRINT OUT (VISALIA TIMES-DELTA, REEDY EXPONENT, KINGBURG RECORDER, SELMA ENTERPRISE, HANFORD SENTINEL, PORTERVILLE RECORDER, MADERA TRIBUNE, THE BUSINESS JOURANL FRENSO); LOCAL TELEVISION OUT (KSEE24, KFSN30, KGE47, KMPH26)

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  • California-Wildfires-170

    A helicopter hovers above a home as it prepares to dip water from the nearby Merced River in El Portal, Calif., on Monday, July 28, 2014.(AP Photo/The Fresno Bee, Mark Crosse) LOCAL PRINT OUT (VISALIA TIMES-DELTA, REEDY EXPONENT, KINGBURG RECORDER, SELMA ENTERPRISE, HANFORD SENTINEL, PORTERVILLE RECORDER, MADERA TRIBUNE, THE BUSINESS JOURANL FRENSO); LOCAL TELEVISION OUT (KSEE24, KFSN30, KGE47, KMPH26)

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  • California-Wildfires-171

    Cal Fire crew members mop up embers of the Sand Fire in the rugged foothills of El Dorado county near Plymouth, Calif., on Monday, July 28, 2014, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

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  • California-Wildfires-172

    Rick Ogden, left, and his wife Colleen O'Key, who lost their home in the Sand Fire, talk with neighbors whose homes were spared at the evacuation center in Shingle Springs, Calif., on Monday, July 28, 2014, 2014. Their home of 12 years was completely destroyed at 2pm on Saturday.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

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  • California-Wildfires-173

    Sand Fire evacuees Doc Bassett, and his neighbor Bev Matson take care of his dog Sophie while waiting for fire updates from officials at the evacuation center in Shingle Springs, Calif., on Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

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  • California-Wildfires-174

    Rick Ogden, left, and his wife Colleen O'Key, who lost their home in the Sand Fire, accept some cookies from neighbors whose homes were spared at the evacuation center in Shingle Springs, Calif., on Monday, July 28, 2014, 2014. Their home of 12 years was completely destroyed at 2pm on Saturday.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

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  • California-Wildfires-175

    Rick Ogden who lost his home in the Sand Fire, waits for fire updates from officials at the evacuation center in Shingle Springs, Calif., on Monday, July 28, 2014. Their home of 12 years was completely destroyed at 2pm on Saturday.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

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  • California-Wildfires-176

    Over a hundred residents of El Portal, Calif., on the western edge of Yosemite National Park listen to park and fire officials about the status of the evacuation and the fire in their community on Monday, July 28, 2014. Residents were told they could return to their homes at 9am Tuesday. (AP Photo/The Fresno Bee, Mark Crosse) LOCAL PRINT OUT (VISALIA TIMES-DELTA, REEDY EXPONENT, KINGBURG RECORDER, SELMA ENTERPRISE, HANFORD SENTINEL, PORTERVILLE RECORDER, MADERA TRIBUNE, THE BUSINESS JOURANL FRENSO); LOCAL TELEVISION OUT (KSEE24, KFSN30, KGE47, KMPH26)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • California-Wildfires-177

    A sign on the highway thanking fire crews fighting the Sand Fire in the rugged foothills of El Dorado county near Plymouth, Calif., on Monday, July 28, 2014, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

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  • California-Wildfires-178

    Rick Ogden who lost his home in the Sand Fire, waits for fire updates from officials at the evacuation center in Shingle Springs, Calif., on Monday, July 28, 2014. Their home of 12 years was completely destroyed at 2pm on Saturday.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

SHINGLE SPRINGS, Calif. — Some firefighters battling a Northern California wildfire that prompted evacuation orders for more than 400 homes before it was brought under control were dispatched to other fires, while evacuation orders for about half of the homes in the path of a blaze in Yosemite National Park were lifted.

Fire officials today reported good progress against both blazes. The fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento was 80 percent contained and holding at a little under 6 square miles.

Crews discovered six more homes destroyed by the fire, bringing the total to 19, state fire Battalion Chief Scott McLean said. The fire, which began Friday, also has claimed 48 outbuildings.

McLean said some firefighters were released Monday and more were expected to be taken off the blaze today. The total fire force was down to about 1,600, about 300 fewer firefighters than Sunday.

The Yosemite fire about 100 miles away, meanwhile, has burned through nearly 5 square miles and was 19 percent contained.

Residents of the community of Old El Portal were allowed to return home at 9 a.m. today. About 45 homes in the community of Foresta remain evacuated, park fire information spokesman Jennifer Wuchner said.

Both fires grew rapidly over the weekend before they were brought under control, underscoring the tinder-dry conditions resulting from California’s third year of drought. Residents of the Sierra foothills fire said they were forced to evacuate quickly, and some vowed to keep a list of items to take with them if another fire hits in the future.

Laurel Fulton, a 66-year-old evacuee, had to leave behind an obstinate horse.

“When the sheriff is banging on your window yelling, ‘Get out now, get out now,‘ you don’t have much of a choice,” Fulton said.

Fulton said the fire was so hot and so fast, the sand along a nearby river burned to glass, and she saw ashes the size of dollar bills. She managed to rescue four dogs, a cat and her other horse. She said her neighbor stayed behind and has been reporting that her horse is OK.

Most of the 1,200 or so evacuees were allowed to return home. Only a small number of evacuees on one street remained out of their homes Tuesday, McLean said.

Fire crews also were battling a 3-square-mile blaze in the Sierra National Forest about 60 miles northeast of Fresno that shut down some campgrounds and was threatening 28 structures, some of them homes.

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