Telegraph fire is 60% contained

MARIPOSA -- Firefighters got a better grip Friday on the Telegraph fire burning north of here, allowing more evacuated residents to return to their homes.

Firefighters dug in to fight the remaining northern flank of the blaze near Jenkins Hill that has scarred 34,034 acres, or 53 square miles, and destroyed 21 homes.

The Merced River helped firefighters by acting as a natural barrier, preventing the fire from getting closer to Yosemite, eight miles away. Bulldozers also cut several deep grooves into the landscape to help stop the fire from spreading.

By late Friday, the blaze was 60 percent contained. Officials said they don't know when it will be fully contained.

The Mariposa County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency Friday, which helps when applying for federal aid.

Of the nearly 510 people evacuated because of the fire, about 460 have been allowed to return home, said Kevin Colburn, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. About 2,000 homes still are threatened.

The fire was started July 25 by a target shooter. Fire officials have been reluctant to identity the person or give details about the incident. No charges have been filed.

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