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Donnell fire grows tenfold to 5,800 acres in steep Stanislaus River canyon

The Donnell fire exploded to at least 5,800 acres as of Sunday evening in the middle fork canyon of the Stanislaus River near Dardanelle, Cal Fire reported.

The 207 firefighters had zero containment so far on the fire, which started Wednesday in dense timber near Donnell Reservoir. It reached about 600 acres by Saturday afternoon. The cause is not known.

The area is lightly populated most of the year but draws many campers, hikers and other visitors in summer.

Residents and visitors were being evacuated from Clark Fork Road to Kennedy Meadows on Highway 108, the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office reported. The zone expanded in late afternoon to include Forest Road 5N01 to Haypress Meadow, including Eagle Meadow Road, Niagara Creek and Niagara OHV Park.

Three helicopters and 11 fire engines were battling the blaze, one of many around California.

“The fire is being managed as full suppression incident from the start,” Cal Fire said in a Sunday afternoon update. “Due to the other large fires in the region and state, resources are being ordered and filled as they are available.”

Evacuees can go to the American Red Cross shelter at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sonora.

The fire has burned into the McCormick fire zone from 2017, where reduced fuel slowed the spread to the northeast, Cal Fire said.

Visitors to Pinecrest, the area’s most popular spot, can see smoke that is coming from the Ferguson fire to the south rather than Donnell, the update said.