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Residents return as containment grows for Yosemite fire

A firefighter protects a sequoia tree as the Washburn Fire burns in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park on Friday.
Noah Berger
/
Associated Press
A firefighter protects a sequoia tree as the Washburn Fire burns in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Friday, July 8, 2022.

Containment continued to grow on a wildfire burning for more than a week in Yosemite National Park and residents of the mountain community of Wawona began returning to their homes on Sunday, officials said.

The Washburn fire was 51% contained after scorching 7.6 square miles (19 square km) of forest land, according to an incident update.

Residents and property owners can return to Wawona, but only with escorts during specific times, officials said. The area remains under a fire advisory.

The blaze began July 7 in Yosemite and is now burning into the Sierra National Forest. How the fire started remains under investigation but officials suspect people were the source.

Yosemite National Park visitors are prohibited from starting campfires or smoking in some areas to reduce the threat of sparking new wildfires, the National Park Service said Friday.

The famed Mariposa Grove, which includes more than 500 mature sequoias, escaped serious damage but the area remained closed to visitors.

Farther north, all evacuation orders and road closures were lifted Saturday for the Peter Fire in Shasta County. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that blaze destroyed 12 structures after erupting Thursday afternoon.