Fire forces 5,000 to flee California Gold Rush towns

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Firefighters were today battling a huge blaze burning in foothills near California’s Yosemite National Park that has already forced thousands of people to flee Gold Rush-era towns.

The fire was threatening about 1,500 homes and other buildings, after already destroying 29 structures.

The flames were today near Highway 49, a historical route dotted with little towns that sprouted along the gold belt that drew miners to California in the 1800s. 

More than 3,000 firefighters were battling the four-day-old blaze that has scorched 75 square miles.

The fire, sparked by a lightning strike, has forced almost 5,000 people from their homes, officials said.


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