YOSEMITE — Areas surrounding Yosemite National Park continue to be impacted by smoke from the Empire Fire, burning in the wilderness area inside the park.
The fire is currently 309 acres and is being managed for both protection and resources objectives; it is being monitored, but not suppressed.
The Empire Fire is approximately one mile south of the Bridalveil Campground east of Alder Creek drainage and west of Bridalveil Creek drainage, in red fir forest.
Fire behavior has been variable from creeping and smoldering in needle duff and burning in heavy dead and down timber to single and group tree torching.
Fire officials expect the fire to grow by 50-100 acres when it is pushed by downdrafts from thunder cells and low relative humidity. In sheltered areas with no wind, the fire will continue to creep and smolder.
Fire crews will be continuously monitoring growth, fire behavior and smoke dispersion.
“The wilderness area in which the Empire Fire is burning is a fire-adapted forest ecosystem,” say park officials. “By allowing fires to burn naturally under the right conditions, we can ensure a healthier, more diverse and natural forest. These fires can also reduce fuels and thereafter limit the potential for future severe fires. Reducing the potential for severe fires can help maintain forests and can also reduce future smoke impacts.”
Although this fire may have transient, moderate smoke impacts in areas near the fire, more severe fires can cause extremely unhealthy levels of smoke for extended periods, over a much wider area.
There are no threats to infrastructure, Bridalveil Campground, or hiking trails at this time. Both the Alder Creek trail and Bridalveil trail are being assessed by fire crews, and any future closures will be decided based on fire behavior.
Smoke is often visible and the smell of smoke has been reported in many of the areas surrounding the park.