By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A wildfire that prompted the rescue of 185 hikers in Yosemite National Park has blackened four square miles of back country wilderness, officials said Monday, as crews hoped rainy weather would give them a chance to gain some control over the flames.

The so-called Meadow Fire, which flared out of control on Sunday afternoon, stranded 85 hikers on top of Half Dome, the park's signature rock formation, requiring them to be flown out by helicopter, Yosemite spokeswoman Ashley Mayer said.

Another 100 park visitors were evacuated from Little Yosemite Valley and a number of hiking trails were closed because of the encroaching flames, Mayer said.

There were no reports of injuries or damage to structures from the blaze, which was burning in Yosemite's back country away from populated areas and tourist attractions.

More than 100 firefighters were on hand to fight the Meadow Fire, assisted by seven water-dropping helicopters and four fixed-wing aircraft, Mayer said, and more resources were on the way.

A second, smaller blaze burning some 15 miles south of the park, was 75 percent contained on Monday, allowing authorities to lift evacuation orders for people from 700 homes.

The so-called Bridge Fire was burning near where a fast-moving blaze last month forced thousands of people out of their homes and businesses in the well-populated region south of Yosemite.

Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency as firefighters battled wildfires across the state, including the massive El Portal blaze that charred nearly 4,700 acres on the western edge of Yosemite National Park.

With federal funds for fighting wildfires running low, officials in California on Thursday called on the U.S. Congress to move forward on a stalled plan to set up an emergency reserve fund for battling the extreme blazes anticipated this fall.

Concern about funds for firefighting are growing as danger from wildfires increases throughout the western United States, and as the fire season reaches its peak amid a devastating drought that has left dry, combustible fuel easily ignited.

 

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Doina Chiacu)