1 firefighter killed as deadly Ferguson Fire expands to over 12,500 acres in California


More than 1,450 emergency personnel are still working to contain the massive wildfire near California's Yosemite National Park that took a deadly turn after igniting over the weekend.

The Ferguson Fire grew quickly overnight and has exploded to 12,525 acres since it began on the evening of July 13 in Mariposa County. It is only 5 percent contained as of Tuesday. Cal Fire, the United States Forest Service and the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office are collaborating in order to tackle the blaze.

Cal Fire Heavy Fire Equipment Operator Braden Varney was killed on July 14 in the Sierra National Forest while working the wildfire, according to Cal Fire officials.

Varney lost his life when his bulldozer rolled over, CNN reported. Officials recovered his body on July 16.

A mandatory evacuation order is in place for areas near the blaze, and emergency authorities have urged residents to leave the area quickly and cautiously. At least 100 homes are under threat, but as of Tuesday, no structures have been damaged nor destroyed.

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The cause of the Ferguson Fire is still unknown.

The vegetation fire continues to impact homes and businesses in the State Route 140 corridor as the fire spreads south and east toward Jerseydale, Mariposa Pines and Yosemite West, according to officials.

"Very steep terrain makes it difficult to insert crews in certain areas of the fire," officials stated in a Tuesday morning update.

Firefighters will have to contend with scorching daytime heat while battling the blaze. Hot weather will continue in the area for the foreseeable future, with daytime highs above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark. Conditions will remain dry through Wednesday.

"The addition of a little monsoon moisture from the southeast Thursday and Friday brings the chance of an afternoon thunderstorm," Clark said. "However, whatever occurs will be very scattered and more likely at a higher elevation than the fire."

"Winds, except those generated by the fire itself, will not be a major factor," he added.

The deadly blaze and a closed stretch of State Route 140 hasn't stopped some tourists from braving the smoke and hiking in Yosemite National Park, which remains open.