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The Oak Fire Near Yosemite Is One of California’s Most Unpredictable Blazes Yet

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A fast-moving wildfire in near Yosemite National Park in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains has engulfed nearly 19,000 acres. It was sparked July 22, and in just three days, it charred more than 18,000 acres.

Cal Fire officials warned that the unpredictable behavior of the blaze is “really unprecedented.” With temperatures in the area hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the flames fed on extremely dry vegetation, a result of climate change bringing frequent droughts and rising heat levels to the state over the last 20 years.

As of July  27, the fire has burned dozens of homes, threatened some 1,400 structures and required evacuation orders for more than 6,000 people.

Firefighters saw some success Monday as aircraft dumped 300,000 liters of water on the flames. The roughly 2,500 firefighting personnel on the job had contained nearly one-third of the fire by the next morning. As they got a handle on the emergency, smoke from the blaze spread over more than 200 miles, clouding the skies above Yosemite, as well as parts of Nevada and Northern California.

Below are a selection of photos from one of California’s most intense, unpredictable wildfires yet.

Oak Fire Sparks Evacuations in Mariposa County
Firefighters battle the Oak Fire near Mariposa, Calif., on July 23. The fast moving Oak Fire burning outside of Yosemite National Park has forced evacuations, charred over 11,500 acres and destroyed several homes.Justin Sullivan—Getty Images
Wildfire Near Yosemite National Park Explodes In Size
A row of mailboxes tagged with evacuation notices sit along Triangle road during the Oak Fire in Mariposa, on July 23.David Odisho—Bloomberg/Getty Images
Oak Fire burns near Mariposa
Residents who live along Buckingham Mountain Road watch as the Oak Fire burns near their home, which is located between Midpines and Mariposa, Calif., on July 22.Tracy Barbutes—Reuters
Western Wildfires
A car is engulfed in flames in Mariposa County, on July 23.Ethan Swope—San Francisco Chronicle/AP
Smoldering tree are all that remain of what was once a living forest after the destructive Oak Fire near Mariposa, on July 25.David McNew—AFP/Getty Images
Oak Fire Sparks Evacuations in Mariposa County
CAL FIRE firefighters monitor a burn operation as they battle the Oak Fire near Jerseydale, Calif., on July 24.Justin Sullivan—Getty Images
California Wildfires
Debris from a burned home is seen after flames from the Oak Fire swept through Triangle Road in Mariposa County on July 26.Brontë Wittpenn—San Francisco Chronicle/AP
Burnt and destroyed trees near Mariposa, on July 25.David McNew—AFP/Getty Images
Oak Fire Burns in California
A CAL FIRE aircraft drops Phos-Chek on the Oak Fire near Darrah in Mariposa County, Calif., on July 24, 2022.David Swanson—Reuters
APTOPIX California Wildfires
A firefighter extinguishes flames as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County, on July 22. Crews were able to to stop the blaze from reaching an adjacent home.Noah Berger—AP
Embers fall from trees in a forest destroyed by the Oak Fire near Mariposa on July 25.David McNew—AFP/Getty Images
California Wildfires
The Oak Fire seen from Highway 140 burns in Mariposa County, on July 22.Ethan Swope—San Francisco Chronicle/AP

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Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com and Kim Bubello at kim.bubello@time.com