YOSEMITE — A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for the community of Wawona inside Yosemite National Park due to increased activity on the west flank of the South Fork Fire.
The evacuation order is for all areas east of Highway 41 along Chilnualna Falls Road and Forest Drive, including the Big Trees Lodge.
Residents and visitors must vacate by 4 p.m. today.
According to fire officials, a weather system with thunder cells brought outflow winds that pushed the fire back to the west last night. There is an isolated spot fire now outside the containment line in the Wawona Dome area. It is burning on very steep terrain covered with dead trees.
With no crews on the ground in that location due to the extreme danger, and heavy smoke limiting air operations, officials elected to put evacuations in place while there is time to get everyone out safely in a controlled manner, rather than waiting until conditions force more of a scramble to evacuate.
The fire meteorologist says there was a significant thunderstorm over the fire last night, and that behavior – bringing outflow winds to the fire area – is expected to continue through the next several days.
A Red Cross Shelter has been established at the Tenaya Lodge.
The community meeting scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m. will be held at the Tenaya Lodge.