More evacuations as fire rages near Yosemite

  • More evacuations as fire rages near Yosemite

More evacuations as fire rages near Yosemite

While the smoke that wraps the park is good reason to stay away, this isn't the first time Yosemite National Park faced the threat of wildfires.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Shasta and Riverside Counties on Thursday over the Carr and Cranston fires, which were being supercharged by temperatures above 100 degrees F (37 C), erratic winds and low humidity.

Horses and other animals were taken to shelters as were several hundred children who were evacuated from summer camps.

Over almost two weeks, flames have churned through 60 square miles (38,522 acres) of timber in steep terrain of the Sierra Nevada just west of the park in Mariposa County. Crews also worked to complete a containment line between Eagle Peak and El Portal along the northeast portion of the fire.

"You go there and expect the fresh air and it was the total opposite of that", she said Thursday.

The sun rose in a smoke-filled sky over the scenic valley, which normally bustles with summer tourists but has largely emptied out after authorities reluctantly ordered the closure a day earlier.

Yosemite Valley will be closed for at least four days beginning at noon Wednesday, along with a winding, mountainous, 20-mile stretch of State Route 41, park spokesman Scott Gediman said.

Burning its way across steep, rugged terrain with little or no road access, containing the fire has been hard and has left the splendid landscapes of Yosemite cloaked in hazy smoke.

Yosemite Valley to close due to growing wildfire

The closure was heartbreaking for travellers, many of whom mapped out their trips months in advance to hike and climb amid the spectacular views of cascading waterfalls and sheer rock faces.

The smoke, which stems from the Ferguson Fire that started July 13, has burned more than 36,600 acres, or 57 square miles, AccuWeather reports, and since Tuesday has only been 25 percent contained.

"This is the first time Yosemite Valley has been closed due to a wildfire since 1990". "And that's what we are doing, we're doing a national park trip".

"Additionally, fire suppression operations have required the closure of some park roads to provide for the safety of firefighters and fire support staff".

Disappointed tourists under evacuation orders are emptying campsites and lodges in the heart of Yosemite National Park, as firefighters battled to contain a huge wildfire just to the west.

At least a thousand campground and hotel bookings will be canceled - to say nothing of the impact on day visitors, park workers, and small businesses along the highway, Mr. Gediman said.

The fire has been burning for almost two weeks in the Sierra National Forest, and has killed one firefighter who died July 14, when the bulldozer he was operating overturned. They are aided by 220 engines, 47 water tenders, 16 helicopters, 88 crews, and 59 dozers. The next morning, they left for Los Angeles.

The new evacuations cover communities outside the park's north side.