Visitors are being ordered to evacuate some parts of Yosemite National Park by noon on Wednesday due to a nearby wildfire. The Ferguson Fire has consumed over 36,000 acres southwest of the park and is only 25 percent contained.
Park officials have announced they’re evacuating Yosemite Valley as well as Highway 41 and the town of Wawona. Park spokesman Scott Gediman says that’s mostly due to smoke from the Ferguson Fire pouring into the park. "With the high pressure system we just haven’t had much wind," says Gediman, "so you’ve got that smoke that just sits there."
Gediman says firefighters will also use that space to store equipment and conduct preventive operations. "We’re working very closely with the incident management team on some possible what’s called 'back burning operations,' where we could potentially burn along highway 41 toward the fire," he says.
The fire broke out on Friday July 13. More than 3,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which already killed one bulldozer operator from Mariposa. Park officials expect the closures to remain in effect until Sunday.
This is the first time Yosemite Valley has been closed due to a wildfire since 1990.