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Squelching Sierra fires left forest ready to burn

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GROVELAND, Calif. — Unnaturally long intervals between wildfires and years of drought primed the Sierra Nevada for the explosive conflagration chewing up the rugged landscape on the edge of Yosemite National Park, forestry experts say.

The blaze was just 40 acres when it was discovered near a road in Stanislaus National Forest on Aug. 17, but firefighters had no chance of stopping it in the early days. Fueled by thick forest floor vegetation in steep river canyons, it exploded…

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