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Ferguson Fire

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

September is over, and that used to signal the end of wildfire season. But as 2017’s massive Thomas Fire showed us, wildfires in California can rage on well into December. Meanwhile firefighting has gotten a lot more complicated; there’s drought to contend with, and housing development in fire-prone areas. Six California firefighters have been killed on the job so far this year. And it’s a number that isn’t falling, unlike in other parts of the country.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The Ferguson Fire has now consumed close to 95,000 acres near Yosemite National Park, and hazardous smoke conditions have closed Yosemite Valley indefinitely. Nearly half of the fire is now contained, but Yosemite’s most popular tourist destination is not out of the woods yet.

At a press conference on Tuesday, officials with Yosemite, Mariposa County and multiple fire agencies celebrated increased containment, lifted evacuation orders and the opening of some roads near the park.

National Weather Service / Cal Fire

Last month the Carr Fire near Redding exploded overnight in what some people have called a "fire-nado" - with extreme rotating winds that toppled high tension power lines and wrapped metal posts around trees. It was the most extreme case of extreme fire behavior people have seen in California in recent times. But with a record-setting stretch of triple digit temperatures, skies filled with smoke, and fires creating their own weather, 2018 has proven to be anything but normal.

A new podcast from Capital Public Radio reporter Ezra David Romero is digging into stories about Yosemite National Park. Called Yosemiteland, the limited-run series explores everything from commercialization to climate change. A new episode also deals with how the park is dealing with wildfire. That's of special concern now as most of the park is closed to the public due to impacts from the Ferguson Fire.

U.S. Forest Service - Sierra National Forest (Facebook)

UPDATE: 6:00 PM 7/27/18

Yosemite Valley is going to remain closed for a little longer than initially planned due to the Ferguson Fire. The Park Service announced today that the valley will reopen on Friday August 3rd at 4:00 PM. The Wawona community and Mariposa Grove will remain closed due to smoke and impacts from the fire. Highway 41 will also remain closed. It’s unknown when they will reopen. The popular park attractions closed earlier this week due to the fire. The closures had been set to expire this Sunday.

 

Monica Velez

As the Ferguson Fire continues to burn, part of Yosemite National Park is closing Wednesday. 

By noon, Yosemite Valley and Wawona will be closed, causing thousands of park visitors to cancel their plans. Although the air is smokey and skies are muggy, one group of five tourists from Mexico and Germany decided to take their chances. 

Ari Rodriguez and her friends arrived at Yosemite on Tuesday afternoon. She says they planned to stay at the park until Wednesday, but are heading out before the park closes.