Massive Fire by Yosemite Adds 5,000 Acres Due to 'Very Hot Conditions'

The Ferguson Fire is one of nearly a dozen active wildfires in the state right now, and for the second time this summer Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency.

by Sarah Ravani, San Francisco Chronicle / July 27, 2018

(TNS) - A dangerous fire ripping through terrain near Yosemite National Park the past two weeks continues to keep the iconic summertime destination closed while another 5,000 acres burned overnight into Thursday morning, officials said.

The Ferguson Fire is one of nearly a dozen active wildfires in the state right now, and for the second time this summer Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Thursday in Shasta and Riverside counties.

The relentless blaze near Yosemite has been stoked by warm, dry weather, and firefighters are having difficulty accessing the rough terrain due to the “very hot conditions,” the forest service said.

The superintendent of Yosemite National Park issued stage 1 fire restrictions for the area, which includes: no building or using a campfire and cooking fire; no portable stoves using pressurized gas, liquid fuel or propane; and no smoking below 6,000-feet except within a vehicle.

The restrictions came after visitors were ordered to leave some of Yosemite National Park’s most popular areas — Yosemite Valley, Wawona and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, on the park’s southern end — by noon Wednesday.

Park officials decided to close those parts of the park through Sunday because of the unhealthy plumes of smoke. The fire was about two miles west from the park, officials said.

Mandatory evacuations were in place for Anderson Valley, Cedar Lodge/Indian Flat Campground, El Portal Trailer Court, Foresta, Lushmeadows Community, Old El Portal, Old Yosemite Road, Ponderosa Basin Community, Rancheria Flat, Savage’s Trading Post, Sweetwater Ridge, Yosemite View Lodge and Yosemite West.

People were also ordered to evacuate from East Westfall Road to Chowchilla Mountain Road, Incline Road from Foresta Bridge to the last Bureau of Land Management campground, Tip Top Road from Triangle Road to Gunther Road, and Triangle Road from Darrah Road in the Lushmeadows area to Highway 49 South.

Evacuation centers were open at Mariposa Elementary School in Mariposa, and Mountain Christian Center in Oakhurst. The center at New Life Christian Church in Marisposa was at capacity, officials said.

So far, one firefighter has died and seven others have been injured.

One non-residential structure has been destroyed in the blaze, and 3,494 other structures are being threatened.

There are 3,686 firefighters and officials working to combat the blaze, as well as 241 engines, 47 water tenders, 18 helicopters, 94 crews, and 63 dozers.

Elsewhere in Northern California, a 20,000-acre inferno burning in Redding was only 10 percent contained, Cal Fire said.

The state of emergency in Shasta County mobilized the state’s Office of Emergency Services and other agencies to provide help to the county. The Carr Fire started Monday afternoon and posed many of the same challenges that firefighters have faced this fire season — dry conditions and steep terrain with limited access for dozers to construct containment lines.

So far, 192 structures were threatened.

Dry weather is expected in Redding for the rest of the week. So far, 1,344 fire personnel were battling the blaze, including 110 fire engines, 40 fire crews, 10 helicopters, 22 dozers and 14 water tenders.

The Cranston Fire in Riverside County has burned 4,700 acres in San Bernardino National Forest and was 5 percent contained Thursday. So far, 2,174 homes have been evacuated.

Sarah Ravani is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @SarRavani


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