MARIPOSA, Calif. -- Thousands of residents of remote mountain communities are still under evacuation orders Monday as firefighters significantly slowed the spread of the Oak Fire burning near Yosemite National Park.
One of them was Amber Blalock, who lives in the Lushmeadowns community in Mariposa County. She says her family had to evacuate without one of their cats.
"We got the call that we had to evacuate and the fire was coming quickly. I have two children and my daughter, Sarah, she's 11. My son is eight, and we had to quickly get as much as we can. And we have a cat that likes to go outside. And so we were able to get one dog and one cat, and we had to just open the gate to let our chickens save themselves. But we couldn't find Coda."
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She said her daughter called for him but there was no sign of him.
"We said a prayer, and we just knew that God would take care of our Coda. We just kept praying and we kept praying. I called the sheriff's department, and they said that they would get back to us. I didn't hear anything. I called again the next day, and we just kept worrying. He was going to be hungry and thirsty."
But Blalock called again and discovered animal control officials found him.
"Our daughter and our son are so thrilled, and we just can't wait to reunite them all together. He calms some of our kiddos anxiety. We're all back together."
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Crews "made good headway" against the Oak Fire, according to a Sunday night incident report.
More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the blaze, contending with steep terrain and hot weather. Flames erupted Friday southwest of the park in Mariposa County. Cal Fire described "explosive fire behavior" on Saturday as flames ran through bone-dry vegetation caused by the worst drought in decades.
By Monday morning, the blaze had consumed more than 26 square miles of forest.