PICTURES, VIDEO

California emergency as huge Yosemite fire rages

A Tuolumne County firefighter mops up hot spots from a back fire while battling the Rim Fire at Camp Mather on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California.  -- PHOTO: AFP
A Tuolumne County firefighter mops up hot spots from a back fire while battling the Rim Fire at Camp Mather on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California.  -- PHOTO: AFP
 A firefighting crew puts out a spot fire that jumped a fire line in Yosemite National Park, California, on Aug 23, 2013.-- PHOTO: REUTERS
 A firefighting crew puts out a spot fire that jumped a fire line in Yosemite National Park, California, on Aug 23, 2013.-- PHOTO: REUTERS
Firefighters monitor the edge of the Rim Fire as it burns near Berkeley Camp near Buck Meadows, California, on Aug 23, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Firefighters monitor the edge of the Rim Fire as it burns near Berkeley Camp near Buck Meadows, California, on Aug 23, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 Firefighters look at a map of the Rim Fire at Camp Mather on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
 Firefighters look at a map of the Rim Fire at Camp Mather on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
Trees burned by the Rim Fire are seen at Camp Mather on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
Trees burned by the Rim Fire are seen at Camp Mather on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
Trees burned by the Rim Fire are seen at Camp Mather on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
Trees burned by the Rim Fire are seen at Camp Mather on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
 The remains of a burned outbuilding from the Rim Fire near Buck Meadows, California, on Aug 23, 2013.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 The remains of a burned outbuilding from the Rim Fire near Buck Meadows, California, on Aug 23, 2013.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A Tuolumne County firefighter mops up hot spots from a back fire while battling the Rim Fire at Camp Mather on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
A Tuolumne County firefighter mops up hot spots from a back fire while battling the Rim Fire at Camp Mather on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
A US Forest Service firefighter monitors the Rim Fire as it approaches Yosemite Lakes on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
A US Forest Service firefighter monitors the Rim Fire as it approaches Yosemite Lakes on Aug 23, 2013 near Groveland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
Charred brush sits next to the Hetch Hetchy entrance to Yosemite National Park after the Rim Fire burned through on Aug 23, 2013 in Yosemite National Park, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
Charred brush sits next to the Hetch Hetchy entrance to Yosemite National Park after the Rim Fire burned through on Aug 23, 2013 in Yosemite National Park, California. -- PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES, California (AFP) - A huge wildfire raged unchecked near California's famous Yosemite National Park on Friday, threatening thousands of homes as officials declared a state of emergency.

The blaze - named the "Rim Fire" - erupted on Saturday in the Stanislaus National Forest to the west of Yosemite, one of the most popular tourist attractions in California.

By early Friday the inferno had destroyed more than 42,000 ha while more than 2,000 firefighters were tackling the flames.

The blaze was classified as only two percent contained and was threatening some 4,500 homes, according to the official fire information website Inciweb.

California Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday declared a state of emergency, meaning extra resources can now be mobilized in order to battle the fire.

According to the Los Angeles Times, nine homes have already been destroyed by the fire whose fumes could be felt in Reno, Nevada, some 250km away.

One of the main routes into Yosemite, the 120 highway, has been closed, according to Inciweb, but other roads into the park remain open.

The blaze is one of several large fires currently raging in the western United States. In Idaho, the "Beaver Creek" fire near the ski resort of Sun Valley has destroyed some 45,000 ha and was 67 per cent contained on Friday.