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Community Meeting On El Portal Fire

EL PORTAL – Residents in the area of the El Portal fire are encouraged to attend a community briefing at 6 p.m. tonight – Monday, July 28 – at El Portal Elementary School. The current fire conditions will be presented.

As of this morning, the fire is over 2,600 acres with 5% containment. Evacuations are still in effect. Over 700 fire resources have been assigned to the incident.

Resources include four Hot Shot crews, two dozers, and five Type 3 Wildland Engine Strike Teams, with each Strike Team consisting of five engines. Fixed winged tankers and helicopters are being used during daylight hours. Those resources include eight air tankers, six helicopters and a DC10 (VLAT).

The El Portal fire was reported just after 3 p.m. Saturday, July 26, and has caused road closures and evacuations in the area.

The communities of Foresta and Old El Portal have been evacuated. The Park Service hopes to lift the evacuations by mid-week. At least one structure has been lost and more are threatened. Strike teams have been stationed at residences to protect them from advancing flames.

Several campgrounds have now been evacuated, including Crane Flat and Bridal Veil, which is being use for fire operations.

Yosemite Creek Campground has also been closed due to the Dark Hole Fire, which was spotted on July 16 about a mile south of the campground, and has grown to about 40 acres.

Big Oak Flat Road between Crane Flat and El Portal Rd is closed. This is a hard closure until further notice for the public, employees and residents. There is no access to Yosemite Valley via the Big Oak Flat Road or Highway 120.

Tunnel View - photo by John-Mark Brix

Tioga Road is open and accessible via Big Oak Flat and Tioga Pass Entrances.

Yosemite National Park is open and Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and Wawona/Mariposa Grove areas are open and accessible via Highways 140 and 41. Tioga Road is not accessible via Highways 140 and 41, but can be reached coming in on Highway 120.

Red Cross shelters have been set up at the Groveland Community Center, located at 18583 Main Street in Groveland and Tenaya Lodge, located at 1122 Highway 41 in Fish Camp.

Cooperating agencies include the National Park Service, Forest Service, Cal Fire, California Highway Patrol and Mariposa County.

At 6 p.m. on Sunday night, a Type 1 Fire Management Team from Southern California was given command of this fire. The fire is on both NPS lands and Stanislaus National Forest, and Joint Unified Command has been established.

“As with any incident in our park, firefighter and public safety is our number one priority,” says Gary Wuchner, the Public Information Officer for Yosemite National Park Fire and Aviation. “We appreciate everyone’s assistance and concern with this priority.”

The Dark Hole, said to have been started with a lightning strike, and El Portal Fires will be managed by the Type 1 team for efficiency.

Future fire updates for the El Portal Fire will provided by the Incident Management Team, working closely with park management.

Smoke from the fire has obscured many of the famous vistas throughout the park. To view air quality and smokey conditions, have a look at the Yosemite National Park webcams.

No injuries have been reported and the cause is under investigation.

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