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Natural rock barriers slow wildfire in backcountry of Yosemite National Park

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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California — The granite landscape in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park helped slow the spread of a wildfire, officials said.

More than 400 firefighters were battling the blaze that has burned more than 7 ½ square miles and was 23 percent contained Wednesday night, park officials said.

The fire forced the evacuation of dozens of hikers on Sunday by helicopter from Little Yosemite Valley and the iconic Half Dome.

Some backcountry trails and popular wilderness areas remained closed, but park spokeswoman Ashley Mayer said the main entrances and other attractions were still open.

Meanwhile, authorities said a total of four homes have been destroyed by a fire that has been raging since July 19 in Klamath National Forest in Northern California. The fire has also damaged or destroyed four other buildings.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Rudy Evenson said 274 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders, and at least that many have been told to be ready to leave home if the fire worsens.

The blaze has consumed 164 square miles of timber since it began last month and was only 30 percent contained.

Both fires were started by lightning.

In Southern California, a wildfire burning in Orange County near the Riverside County line forced the shutdown of lanes of a freeway and left a firefighter injured, but its growth has been stopped.

The fire was first spotted by freeway commuters on State Route 91 in the Anaheim Hills area Wednesday afternoon. By evening it had grown to about 40 acres and two eastbound freeway lanes remained closed.

One firefighter had moderate injuries, County fire Capt. Steve Concialdi told the Orange County Register, but he gave no further details.

By evening, about 125 state, county, Anaheim and Corona firefighters with help from the air had the blaze 40 percent contained.

"Our helicopters are keeping the fire in check," Concialdi said.

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