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A huge wildfire has burned into California’s Yosemite National Park, park officials say.
The week-old Rim Fire grew to 164 sq miles by Friday morning, and had burned 17 sq miles at the edge of the park by the afternoon.
The blaze has forced scores of tourists to flee during peak season and is threatening thousands of homes.
More than 2,000 firefighters have been tackling the flames in difficult terrain. It is just 2% contained.
California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency.
The blaze has reached Yosemite’s backcountry at Lake Eleanor, which is accessible by hiking trails, park spokeswoman Kari Cobb told the Associated Press.
“It’s not a very visited part of the park, even though it is very beautiful,” she said, adding the fire was some 20 miles away from Yosemite’s main tourist area.
Kari Cobb said the park service was “not anywhere near” to closing the attraction.
Yosemite Park blaze has forced scores of tourists to flee during peak season and is threatening thousands of homes
The blaze has shut a stretch of motorway that is one of three entrances to the west side of the park, which receives up to 15,000 visitors a day in the summer.
The Rim Fire is one of 50 major wildfires burning in the western US.
The blaze is centred on Stanislaus National Forest, west of Yosemite, and has so far destroyed two homes and seven outbuildings.
A spokeswoman for the US Forest Service said 4,500 homes, hotels, businesses and several campsites are under threat as of Friday, up from 2,500 the day before.
Officials have gone door to door in the summer community of Pine Mountain Lake urging people to leave.
Local residents said the area, normally teeming with tourists, is now empty.
“This fire, it’s killing our financial picture,” restaurant owner Corinna Loh told the Associated Press.
“This is our high season and it has gone to nothing. We’re really hurting.”
Lee Bentley of the US Forest Service told CBS News: “We’ve got a monster on our hands. This fire is making its own weather.
“It’s going every which direction. This is one of the worst I’ve ever been on. I’ve been doing it for quite a few years.”
The area’s steep hills and rugged terrain are hampering firefighters’ efforts, officials say.
Despite the blaze’s proximity to Yosemite, spokesman Scott Gediman says the park is clear of smoke, and all accommodation and attractions are open.
Meanwhile, five wildfires in Yellowstone National Park have scorched about 18 square miles of mostly remote areas.
While hundreds of families fled to avoid the wildfires that struck California, Britney Spears was driving towards the disaster on Friday.
Britney Spears’ Calabasas home was close to the flames and risks being destroyed by the terrifying fires.
Her family comes first and the star was presumably desperately trying to get to her two sons Jayden and Sean so that they could be reunited amid the danger.
Britney Spears, 31, was seen racing down the freeway into a cloud of smoke while in her white convertible Jaguar.
Britney Spears was seen racing towards California wildfire to get to her family as flames threaten to engulf their home
The singer was then spotted getting stuck in some traffic due to road closures as a result of the wildfire.
As the flames spread towards Malibu, lots homes are in danger, including many properties owned by celebrities.
About 4,000 homes and 300 commercial properties in Malibu and the surrounding area are at risk along with the Point Mugu naval base.
More than 10,000 acres from Newbury Park toward Malibu and the Ventura County coast have been blackened by the fire.
By 2 a.m. local time the brush-fueled wildfire was within “seven or eight miles” of Malibu, Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash said.
As well as burning a 10 mile path to the coast, numerous flare-ups were reported throughout Friday as shifting winds blew embers into new areas of tinder-dry brush.
Sydney is experiencing its hottest day on record, with temperatures reaching nearly 115 F (46 C).
A temperature of 114.4 F (45.8 C) was recorded at Observatory Hill in the Australian city at 14:55 local time.
Some areas in the wider Sydney region were even hotter, with the town of Penrith, to the west, registering a temperature of 115.7 F (46.5 C).
Firefighters are still battling dozens of wildfires sparked by the intense heat in New South Wales and Victoria.
The small town of Licola in eastern Victoria is reported to have been cut off by a 44,500-hectare fire, as its sole access road is blocked.
Officials said dozens of people had been evacuated but 10 locals were still there.
Rob Gilder, a sheep farmer, said he and two employees had found themselves trapped on their farm and were “in grave danger”.
He told the Herald Sun they were taking steps to protect their house and farm equipment, but that he was concerned for his livestock, and that the situation could worsen.
“I am very worried. But I am hopeful that one of those helicopters will come and get us but I think the smoke might beat them.”
Sydney is experiencing its hottest day on record, with temperatures reaching nearly 115 F
Australia faces wildfires each year as temperatures climb. In February 2009, on what has come to be known as Black Saturday, 173 people were killed in fires in the state of Victoria.
On Friday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard attended a memorial service for fires in 2003 in the capital, Canberra, which killed four people and destroyed thousands of homes.
She reminded Australians to “take the appropriate precautions to stay safe and monitor information from local emergency services as they work to protect lives and property”, the AFP news agency reports.
The previous recorded high in Sydney was in January 1939, when the thermometer topped 113.5 F (45.3 C) at Observatory Hill.
The Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement that Friday’s record-setting temperatures “were not limited to Sydney, with records being set along the coast from Bega (44.6 °C) to Williamtown (44.8 °C)”.
“The highest temperature recorded in the Greater Sydney Area was 46.5 °C at Penrith, where observations started in 1995.”
Officials in Sydney have warned people to be ready for the heat, take care, avoid strenuous activity and stay out of the sun.
The heat has damaged wiring to urban railway lines, bringing delays to much of the network – CityRail have warned passengers to carry water with them.
The emergency services has received dozens of calls from people seeking help for heat-related health issues, including dizziness, fainting and vomiting, ABC News reports.
Chief Superintendent Ian Johns said elderly and ill people tended to suffer the most, but warned that “people underestimate the heat and overestimate their ability and that would be particularly so for younger, fitter Australians”.
The heatwave across Australia in recent weeks has been so intense that the Bureau of Meteorology has had to add a new shade to its color-coded temperature chart, so the scale now reaches above 122 F (50 C).
However, meteorologists have forecast a dramatic change in weather overnight in Sydney, with thunder storms expected to bring a rapid drop in temperatures.
Firefighters are battling a huge wildfire raging near the wealthy resort of Marbella on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
At least one person has died and thousands more have been evacuated.
The body of an elderly man was found near Ojen. Rescue workers are searching for his wife.
Evacuations were ordered from near Marbella, Ojen and a camp site at Alpujata.
Marbella is famous for its up-market hotels and villas and is a favorite haunt of wealthy foreigners.
Firefighters are battling a huge wildfire raging near the wealthy resort of Marbella on Spain's Costa del Sol
Hundreds of firefighters, backed up by emergency military personnel and 31 planes and helicopters, continue to battle a huge blaze that is being fanned by hot, dry winds.
According to the AFP news agency, a 12 km (7 mile) line of fire has spread across the high tree tops in the Sierra Negra mountains.
In addition to the dead man, who was found near his home, five people have been treated for injuries, some of them serious.
Angel Nozal, the mayor of Mijas, a town between Marbella and Malaga, told El Pais newspaper: “The fire is horrific, with flames 10 to 15 metres high.”
The Costa del Sol is one of Spain’s most popular holiday destinations and home to a large expatriate community.
Much of Spain’s countryside was left tinder-dry this summer by a prolonged heatwave. There have been major wildfires in northern Catalonia – near the Pyrenees – and on La Gomera, in the Canary Islands.
Residents of Ojen described panic as the flames forced them to flee without time to gather belongings.
“We left just in our clothes, our nerves jangling,” said Filomena Gomez.
Evacuees from Ojen are now staying in a sports hall in Marbella.
The wind speed has dropped since Thursday and the air is more humid, so there are hopes that the Costa del Sol blaze can be contained soon.
The fire started on Thursday afternoon in the Sierra Negra area of Coin, near Malaga and has now affected an area of some 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres).
Part of the AP-7 highway was cut temporarily, but other roads are unaffected. It is not yet clear how many homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Two of the biggest ever wildfires in the US have hit states of Colorado and New Mexico and hundreds of firefighters have joined efforts to tackle them.
The Colorado blaze shrouded the state capital, Denver, some 60 miles (100 km) away in smoke on Tuesday.
A woman has died in the blaze, which has burned about 43,000 acres (68 sq miles) and is still growing.
A huge fire is also burning in New Mexico – one of a total of 19 fires in nine drought-stricken western states.
The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday that one person had died in Colorado, after investigators found remains in a home that had been burned in the fire.
Two of the biggest ever wildfires in the US have hit states of Colorado and New Mexico and hundreds of firefighters have joined efforts to tackle them
Although the remains have not been conclusively identified, the family of Linda Steadman, 62, has issued a statement saying she died in a cabin that she loved.
They reported her missing after the fire started on Saturday, sheriff’s officials said.
President Barack Obama called the Colorado governor to offer federal personnel, equipment and emergency grants – but was unable to reach his New Mexico counterpart due to poor reception in the fire zone, the Associated Press reported.
The High Park Fire – as it has been dubbed – is still growing, with only 5% contained, reported a national incident information website.
The same website says 30% of the 36,000-acre (56-sq-mile) Little Bear Fire in New Mexico has been contained.
About 118 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the blaze in Colorado – believed to have been started by lightning – and hundreds of people were forced to evacuate, officials say.
Some 600 firefighters are on the scene and up to 200 more are expected.
Additional resources have had to be called in as state and federal authorities rushed to tackle the blaze.
The US Forest Service said on Monday it would contract one air tanker from Alaska and four from Canada to add to the aircraft already combating the fire. Two more air tankers were also being mobilized in California.
Five of the forest service’s 13 tankers have already been deployed to the scene, a spokesman said.
Congressmen from Colorado said in a letter to the forest service that the need for more aircraft was “dire”.
But incident commander Bill Hahnenberg told the Associated Press: “We are a very high priority nationally. We can get all the resources we want and need.”