Ferguson Fire shuts down part of Yosemite

Leroy Wright
July 28, 2018

We have a lot of global guests that have planned their route thru California to experience Yosemite National Park.

Ferguson Fire continues to grow, Yosemite National Park guests evacuatedPark rangers and CAL FIRE officials announced the portion of Highway 41 stretching from Wawona to the Yosemite Valley floor would close by Wednesday afternoon. Views of the Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and other landmarks are all but gone, and tourists in the valley increasingly are wearing bandannas and medical masks. The glacial valley's grand vista of waterfalls and shear granite faces has been obscured by a choking haze of smoke from the Ferguson Fire.

Rhonda Salisbury, chief executive of Visit Yosemite/Madera County, said the regional visitors bureau has been relocating tourists statewide after the closure. All hotels, campgrounds and visitor centers will be closed.

"I wish I could say it will be completely contained tomorrow, but I think we'll be here for at least another week, maybe longer", said Alex Olow, a spokesman for the Sierra National Forest. "And anyone that's incoming tomorrow will get an email or phone call stating that their reservation is canceled".

Yosemite Valley hasn't been closed due to a blaze since 1990, when the A-Rock fire ripped through the region and burned almost 18,000 acres. The fire itself poses no immediate danger to Yosemite, but the heavy smoke prompted authorities to act. Authorities decided on the closure to allow crews to perform protective measures like burning away brush along roadways without having to deal with traffic in the park that welcomes 4 million visitors annually.

Victor Woodley wears a mask due to smoke while taking entrance fees at the south entrance to Yosemite National Park Calif. Tuesday
Portions Of Yosemite National Park To Close Ahead Of Ferguson Fire

Visitors are advised to 'limit activity during the periods of poor air quality, ' the park said in a statement. "Some facilities and services are closed or diminished".

The Ferguson Fire began the night of July 13 and has spread across almost 60 square miles of rugged forest west of the park. Fire crews have achieved 13% containment. Residents in several other communities were told to be ready to evacuate, and almost 3,500 structures are threatened.

The South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team said the 36,587-acre wildfire - which grew by about 3,000 acres since Monday - was 25 percent contained, almost double that of the day before.

Six firefighters have been injured and one killed battling the 51-square-mile fire in rugged terrain near the national park's west side.

Another area sparking concern is Yosemite National Park.

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