YOSEMITE — The huge plume of smoke seen from all around the mountain area yesterday was due to a major increase in fire activity on the northwest and southeast portions of the Empire Fire in Yosemite.
The fire is moving towards the Glacier Point Road, spotting out ahead of itself up to ¼ of a mile. That prompted the closing of Glacier Point road this morning at 7 a.m., at the Chinquapin junction.
The Empire Fire is now estimated at 4,125 acres with 40 percent containment. There are currently 75 personnel assigned to the incident.
There is no relief from the current weather in the next week, and fire managers are anticipating large pulses of the fire moving towards the northeast.
The plan will be to prep Glacier Point Road from Bridaveil to Mono Meadow trail. Additional crews and engines are being ordered with the anticipation of the fire reaching Glacier Point road in the near future.
Three medium helicopters, one heavy helicopter and air attack have been ordered.
Crews are implementing a perimeter control strategy on the north, west, and southern flanks to prevent fire spread toward Bridalveil Campground, Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area (Badger Pass), Yosemite West subdivision, and Wawona Road (Highway 41) corridor.
Firefighters will continue to implement firing operations from the area of Turner Meadow Junction toward Deer Camp with the intention of tying the firing operation into Deer Camp and securing the southern flank of the fire to the western flank of the fire by end of shift on Aug. 31.
Crews will also continue to monitor and secure the northern flank of the fire above the Bridalveil Creek Campground, and continue to check up and secure the perimeter of the 50-acre spot fire to the east of Bridalveil Creek Campground.
On the east side of the fire, crews will monitor the spread as it continues into Yosemite’s Wilderness Area, which is consistent with the Park’s strategy of allowing fires to burn naturally, thereby resulting in a healthier, more diverse ecosystem, while reducing fuels buildup and minimizing the potential for future severe fires.
“These strategies are being employed to protect life, property, natural resources, and cultural resources,” say park officials.
The fire will be visible form the high-country and may be seen from multiple viewpoints in the immediate area of Glacier Point Road including Sentinel Dome. Smoke will be seen all across the mountain area and the Central Valley.
A strong upper level high pressure center over the great basin will continue to bring above normal temperatures and light, terrain-driven winds to the district through the weekend with little diurnal change in humidity’s.
A weak system moving through Northern California will slightly cooler temperatures by a few degrees on Wednesday. There is a slight chance of afternoon/early evening thunderstorms over the higher elevations of the southern Sierra Nevada through Thursday.
Travelers should be cautious of smoke along the road. Fire managers are working with the local Air quality Districts and will be monitoring smoke impacts to the park and local communities.
Ostrander Trail is closed starting at Glacier Point Road, Bridalveil Creek Campground to the second junction with the Ostrander trail. Also, from Westfall Meadow to the Turner junction, along Alder Creek remains closed.
Bridalveil Trail to Turner Meadow Junction is closed. Signs are placed at the affected trails.
There are no threats at this time to infrastructure at Bridalveil Creek Campground, which is closed to the public.
The lightning-caused Empire Fire was reported on Aug. 1.