"Extreme and aggressive" California wildfire doubles in size, forces thousands to evacuate

Calif. wildfire doubles in size

Thousands of firefighters are trying to stop a massive and quickly growing wildfire near Yosemite National Park.

The Detwiler fire in Mariposa, California, has burned through more than 48,000 acres—a larger area than Washington, D.C—
destroyed 29 buildings and put 1,500 more in jeopardy. It is only seven percent contained. 

The wildfire is only one of dozens burning across the West.

Officials are describing this fire that began on Sunday as "extreme and aggressive," reports CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.

In just two days, it has nearly doubled in size and forced thousands of people from their homes  

Firefighter battles a blaze in Mariposa, California.  CBS News

More than 3,000 firefighters from across California are racing to battle the Detwiler fire where towering flames and thick smoke are consuming the state's historic gold country.

"It's dry at night as much as it is during the day and so when you have the same burning conditions all the way, 24 hours a day, it's really hard to get in front of it," said Cal Fire captain Lucas Spelman.

From the air, nearly two dozen air tankers and helicopters are shuttling water and retardant over the fierce flames. Dry, shifting winds have made them difficult to predict.

On the ground, crews are hiking through steep, rugged terrain, building fire lines to try and control the fast-moving blaze.

One way they are fighting these fires is by creating a line of vegetation with bulldozers. It's a way to keep the fire from getting any closer to the road and to people's properties.

Almost 5,000 people are under an evacuation order, including the entire town of Mariposa. The fire came within less than a mile of turning Anthony Skogen's home into ash. 

"There were hotshot crews behind my property line cutting anything they can to keep the fire from coming in," Skogen said.

In nearby Yosemite Park, which remains open, the fire knocked out some power lines during what is peak tourist season. 

About 6,000 firefighters have been deployed statewide to battle more than a dozen large wildfires.