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Arroyo Grande Hotshots on burn operation on Highway 41 in Yosemite - photo credit J Bartlett Team Rubicon-BLM for USFS

Ferguson Fire Nearly 64,000 Acres, Wawona Evacuated

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The Ferguson Fire is now estimated at 63,798 acres with 39 percent containment. The fire grew by 915 acres today.

Just before 6 p.m., several spot fires outside the lines on the southeast corner, and falling embers, prompted the evacuation of the community of Wawona inside Yosemite National Park. Officials say the evacuation was precautionary.

At 7 p.m., the evacuation order was lifted for the El Portal Trailer Park on Highway 140 (see details below).

North of the Merced River on the Stanislaus National Forest, the western flank of the fire has been fairly quiet for several days and has been showing “really cold” on the infrared cameras, so planners have held off on firing farther up the Thirteen Ridge. They have cut a line that shrinks the size of the box in which they’re burning.

Winds have been inconsistent across the northern perimeter, holding up firing operations which crews will continue when conditions are favorable. Planners hope to have burning completed across Pilot Ridge in the next 24 to 48 hours.

On the east side above the river, crews made good progress firing just off of the old Coulterville Road last night, up to the park boundary. Everything remains within the current containment lines. There are still closures for Anderson Valley and Little and Big Grizzly Flats as well as Old Yosemite Road. All closures will remain in effect until mop-up is complete, expected in the next few days.

South of El Portal, the fire continues to push east parallel to, and south of, the Merced River. What began a few days ago as a spot fire is causing evacuations to remain in place for Yosemite West, Old El Portal and Foresta. Planners have crews firing along the 30X Road, staying even with the fire’s progress.

While crews are keeping ahead of the fire along the 30X Road, other resources are cutting contingency line from the road over to Highway 41. The plan is to put in line north and catch Elephant Ridge, a large granite ridge that runs northwest to the Merced River. That will add about another 2,000 acres to the “big box.” If the weather changes and the fire doesn’t move, that will give planners the opportunity to make the box smaller.

Crews finished firing south on Highway 41 inside Yosemite National Park on the west side of Wawona Campground and got it tied in down to the river last night. The fireline is now more than 1,000 feet deep in most places. Just before 6 p.m., the fire spotted across the line in several places. An air tanker is laying retardant across the head of the fire, two heavy helicopters are working the flanks, and crews and dozers are working those spots as of this posting.

There is still one small piece to complete on Old Chowchilla Mountain Road that is about a mile-and-a-half long, and then the line around the southeast corner will be tied in. Once that line is complete, crews can start mopping up inside the line.

In the Footman Ridge area, there was minimal spotting last night. The area has been heavily staffed in order to get that problematic portion of line buttoned up. Everything remains in its current footprint coming up through the back side of Footman Ridge all the way up to Jerseydale and Mariposa Pines. Suppression repair has begun to prevent any kind of erosion damage when we do get some rainfall.

The inversion lifted today across the fire, allowing helicopters to support firing operations. It also caused increased fire activity in some areas, and allowed huge buildups of smoke columns over the fire.

Officials estimate there are 2,846 structures threatened by the fire, but not one home has been lost. One non-residential structure has been destroyed.

There is an estimated date for full containment of Aug. 15.

There are currently 3,344 personnel assigned to the incident including 145 engines, 88 crews, 45 water tenders, 49 dozers, 14 helicopters, and fixed-wing tankers as conditions allow.

There have been eleven firefighter injuries reported, and numerous instances of heat exhaustion-type symptoms. There have been two fatalities on the fire; HFEO Braden Varney was killed in a dozer rollover accident on July 14, and Brian Hughes, Arrowhead Hotshot Captain, lost his life on Sunday when he was struck by a tree during a firing operation.

Area residents can expect to see increased smoke during the next few days as firing operations continue. Tactical firing is an effective way to reduce fuel loads while simultaneously widening or extending containment lines. It can reduce the duration and intensity of wildfires, particularly by decreasing available fuels and weakening the fire as it approaches containment lines.

During all tactical firing operations on the Ferguson Fire, firefighters and law enforcement maintain a presence in evacuated communities to ensure home and structure safety.

The high pressure system above the fire is weakening which will result in warmer and drier conditions. With lower winds speeds and the inversion layer forecasted to lift by midday, residents are likely to see taller smoke columns than they are used to seeing. Residents can monitor the latest air quality and health advisories at:

Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken has signed a forest order closing several Groveland Ranger District roads and trails impacted by the Ferguson Fire.

This closure is based on the current and expected fire behavior and will be in effect until Sept. 30, or until replaced or rescinded. Click here for details and a map of the closure.

Yosemite National Park

Officials have announced that the closure of some portions of Yosemite National Park will be extended to Aug. 5. This now includes Hetch Hetchy. When the park does open these areas, limited visitor services will be available inside Yosemite Valley, including campgrounds, lodging, and food service operations.

Yosemite Valley has been temporarily closed since July 25 due to smoke impacts and for firefighting operations along El Portal Road and the Wawona Road due to the Ferguson Fire.

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and the Wawona Road (Highway 41) from the south entrance of Yosemite National Park to Tunnel View will remain closed until further notice.

The Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120 West) to Crane Flat and Tioga Road (Highway 120 East) from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass, remain open to all visitors and vehicles. All trails and campgrounds along Tioga Road, including the Tuolumne Meadows Campground remain open. All visitor services along Tioga Road, including the High Sierra Camps and visitor services near Tuolumne Meadows, remain open.

Since the Ferguson Fire began on Friday, July 13, several other park facilities and roads have been closed due to fire impacts and the need to support firefighting operations. These closures include Glacier Point Road, Bridalveil Creek Campground, the Wawona Campground, and the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias.

Yosemite National Park continues to work closely with the Incident Management Team and continues to assess park conditions daily.

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200, press 1 and press 1 again. Updated information is also available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yose and on the Yosemite National Park Facebook page.

As of July 21, there are fire restrictions in place on the Sierra National Forest. Please read and be informed before you use any type of fire in the forest.

The Incident Command Post for the Ferguson Fire is located at the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park. Please be aware of heavy fire equipment moving through the area. There is also a base camp set up at the ski area at Badger Pass.

The fire is under Unified Command with Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, Yosemite National Park and the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office. Management of the fire transitioned to a Type 1 Management Team – California Team 4 – on Thursday, July 19. For information about the fire please call 530-377-6221.

The Ferguson Fire started on Friday, July 13, at 8:30 p.m., near Savage Trading Post on the south side of the Merced River canyon along Highway 140. The cause remains under investigation.

Be sure you are signed up to receive alerts when wildfire or other emergencies threaten.

Smoke from the Ferguson Fire is impacting the Mariposa County Air Pollution Control District and across the region. For information specific to Mariposa County visit http://www.mariposacounty.org/index.aspx?NID=1434. For additional information on air quality you can visit the AirNow website or the air fire smoke page.

Residents can check the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s wildfire page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires for information about any current wildfires and whether they are impacting the Valley. The District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN) provides localized air quality data from an extensive air-monitoring network which allows Valley residents to track PM at any Valley address by visiting myraan.com.

Evacuations

New today: A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for the community of Wawona. Residents should leave on Highway 41 to the south gate.

The Evacuation Orders were lifted 7 p.m. for El Portal Trailer Park. This area will be open to residents only and will remain under a Fire Advisement. All residents will need to use the ENTRY POINT on Highway 140 in the Midpines area. The evacuation order remains in effect for Old El Portal and Park Line/ Yosemite View Lodge area.

Evacuations lifted for Highway 140 Corridor – This area will include the following for RESIDENTS ONLY:

  • Savage Trading Post
  • Cedar Lodge
  • Indian Flat
  • Incline Road
  • Rancheria Flat- Government Housing & National Park Service
  • El Portal Complex

All residents will need to enter using Highway 140 in the Midpines area. The road remains closed to the public.

Mandatory evacuations remain in place for:

  • Wawona
  • Old El Portal
  • River Road from Briceburg to last BLM Campground
  • Foresta
  • Yosemite View Lodge
  • Yosemite West
  • Anderson Valley
  • Old Yosemite Road

Evacuation Advisories:

  • Cedar Lodge/Indian Flat Campground
  • Rancheria Flat and all campgrounds along Highway 140
  • Savage Trading Post
  • El Portal Trailer Park

A Red Cross Evacuation Center has been established at Mariposa Elementary School at 5044 Jones Street in Mariposa. This shelter is accepting small pets with their owners.

The shelter at Mountain Christian Center at 40299 Highway 49 in Oakhurst has been closed due to lack of need by evacuees. They remain on standby and will reopen if conditions warrant.

The shelter at  New Life Christian Church located at 5089 Cole Road in Bootjack has been closed.

If you have been evacuated due to the Ferguson Fire, the Sheriff’s Office asks that you please check in with the Red Cross Shelter even if you do not plan to stay there.

If you are in a Mandatory Evacuation or Advisory Area and may require assistance with evacuation transportation due to special needs or medical issues, please contact Human Services toll free at 1-833-423-0816 as soon as possible.

Planning ahead will help with a safe and timely evacuation.

Animal Evacuation Centers

Small Animal Shelter is at SPCA of Mariposa County, 5599 Highway 49 in Mariposa is at full capacity.

Residents with small pets can be accommodated at the Mariposa Elementary School Shelter at 5044 Jones Street for those under mandatory evacuation, where Central California Animal Disaster Team (CCADT) is operating an emergency animal shelter. You must check in with Red Cross first. Please try to accommodate your pets with family and friends first, however your pet is welcome to be sheltered if necessary at the Mariposa Elementary School. For questions about pets, please call CCADT at 888-402-2238 ext. 0, and leave a message. Someone will return your call as soon as possible.

Large Animal Shelter is at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds, 5007 Fairgrounds Road in Mariposa.

Road Closures

  • Anderson Valley Road
  • Foresta Road
  • River Road from Briceburg to the gate at Railroad Flat and all campground areas along 140
  • Summit Road
  • Old Yosemite Road
  • Wawona Road (Highway 41) between Chilnualna Falls in Wawona and Bridalveil Road in Yosemite Valley
  • Incline Road and Highway 140 from the entrance to Yosemite National Park to 1.5 miles east of Midpines are closed to everyone except residents.

General information on returning to previously evacuated areas:

Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office will have a heavy presence in the area to ensure the security and safety of residents and businesses.

There will still be smoke in the respective areas as firefighters continue firefighting operations. If at any time you feel unsafe, please call 911.

For questions or concerns regarding power, please contact PG&E at 800-743-5000 or visit their website at www.pge.com.

The Mariposa County Health Department has health and safety information for residents returning to their homes on their website at http://www.mariposacounty.org/health or call 209-966-3689.

Mariposa County Health and Human Services will be available to assist residents with gaining additional services. Additional information regarding these and other services is available at www.mariposacountyrecovers.org.

SAFETY MESSAGE – The public is reminded to stay vigilant on current fire conditions. Please continue to adhere to road closures and any evacuation warnings. If you see electrical wires on the ground, stay clear and contact PG&E immediately. Trees and poles with deep charring, particularly if still smoking, should be considered hazardous. Please drive slowly and yield to emergency personnel in the area. As you re-enter your property and evaluate damage, be aware that hazardous conditions may exist, particularly if a residence or out-building has burned. Hazards may include asbestos, heavy metals, by-products of plastic combustion and various other chemicals. We encourage the public to remain prepared year-round for wildfires by visiting the www.readyforwildfire.org website. The best show of support is having your home and property “fire-ready.”

Cooperating Agencies on the Ferguson Fire include:

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