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Arrowhead Hot Shots on Ferguson Fire - photo credit Kari Greer

Ferguson Fire Now 46,675 Acres, Closure Of Yosemite Valley Extended

MARIPOSA COUNTY – As crews continue their work to prepare the west side of Yosemite National Park for the approach of the Ferguson Fire, park officials have announced that the reopening of Yosemite Valley has been delay until 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 3, and then with limited services (see details below).

Yosemite Valley has been 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.

Yesterday, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County.

Just before 8 p.m., the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office lifted the mandatory evacuation for Lushmeadows for residents only (see details below).

The fire grew by 764 acres today and is now estimated at 46,675 acres with 29 percent contained.

At 10 a.m., it was still too smoky for both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to operate, and it wasn’t until later in the day that air operations could get underway.

On the southern perimeter in the area of Wednesday’s slopover off Kirby Ridge, firefighters worked hard all night to get line all the way around that finger of fire above Lushmeadows. They also cut contingency line farther south to protect against any further breakout from the fireline. That area of the fire is still quite active, as crews deal with heavy fuels and southwest facing slopes.

Burning operations above Jerseydale station – photo USFS

The struggle for crews working on that section of the fire is that all day they have winds coming out of the southwest, which is very beneficial in pushing the fire back into the burned area. However at night, the wind shifts and comes at them from out of the north, pushing the fire down toward the structures north of Triangle and E Westfall Roads.

The contingency lines south of the slopover serve as a catchers mitt to catch the flying showers of embers created by those northerly winds. And the wind also brings the smoke, which limits visibility for the night shift.

This afternoon crews were set to begin burning in the Roundtree area east of Kirby Ridge, but the opportunity did not present itself. These burning operations are to widen the firelines, removing the fuel from any approaching edge of the fire, and making the lines more secure. The goal today was to get over to Chowchilla Mountain Road and tie in to the line there.

Over the next few days, they will continue firing along the dozer line to the east toward Wawona Campground when conditions allow.

Ferguson Fire – photo Kari Greer

In the Jerseydale and Mariposa Pines area, the line is holding solid and everything has stayed in its footprint all the way up Sweetwater Ridge to the Merced River. There were some isolated hot spots, but they were quickly handled.

On the northern part of the fire burning on the Stanislaus National Forest, the big box of contingency line has been completed. Planners are now focused on utilizing road systems to get direct line in up to Soapstone Road.

The fire slopped north over Soapstone Road yesterday near Big Grizzly Mountain on the northern perimeter, so crews focused today on getting line up around that slopover.

With the big box prepped and ready on the north, planners are looking for places where they can tighten up that box and get closer to the active fire. Much of the country across the top is inaccessible, but they have found some options to cut lines closer to the fire’s edge.

Arrowhead Hot Shots crossing the Merced River on Ferguson Fire – photo USFS

With the steep, harsh terrain north of the river, some firefighters are being ferried across the Merced to hike in to their section of the fireline.

South of El Portal, crews continued firing the handline up from Henness Ridge last night. They stopped just short of the river and at about 2 a.m., and the day shift picked it up today about noon. They used  helicopters to fire off the interior between that line and the fire’s eastern edge.

Just before 4 p.m., there were reports of very squirrely winds south of El Portal, and the fire began making a pretty hard push toward Cathewood Saddle.

Just at shift change this evening, there were a couple slopovers south of El Portal and Foresta, and crews are en route to deal with those.

Once the eastern edge of the fire and this fireline have burned together there, officials say they will then need a couple days to do mop-up and make sure everything is secure around El Portal.

Crews are still holding off on firing operations below Yosemite West on Henness Ridge. There is still work to be done to the south before that area will be ready to go.

Work continues inside Yosemite National Park to add contingency lines and tie the Empire and South Fork Fires together. That process has been ongoing for several days. The lines around Wawona are complete and the hose lays plumbed.

Planners are looking at using Highway 41 inside the park for their fireline. In a few days, when the fire reaches the highway, they plan to bring it all the way down 41 to the west side of Wawona Campground. On Wednesday, fallers began removing hazard trees and cutting brush along the road, and that work is about 50 percent complete.

There are currently 3,898 personnel assigned to the incident including 282 engines, 92 crews, 46 water tenders, 81 dozers, 16 helicopters, and fixed-wing tankers as conditions allow.

There have been seven firefighter injuries reported, and numerous instances of heat exhaustion-type symptoms. There has been one fatality on the fire.

At 8 p.m. tonight, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office lifted mandatory evacuation orders for the Lushmeadows Subdivision. These areas will remain under a Fire Advisement, which is an advisement only of a potential Evacuation Order should conditions change.

The Lushmeadows area includes the following locations:

  • Triangle Road from Darrah Road to East Westfall
  • Fox Creek Rd
  • Rainbow Fall
  • Staircase Fall
  • Pine Top Drive
  • El Capitan
  • Randack Road
  • Cathedral Spires
  • Sentinel Dome
  • Old Orchard Lane
  • Happy Isles Fall
  • Evergreen Lane
  • Tip Top Road
  • Ahwahnee Street
  • Gunther Road
  • Bridalveil Fall
  • Meadow Lane
  • Yosemite Fall
  • Clouds Rest
  • Vernal Fall
  • Half Dome
  • Nevada Fall
  • W Illilouette Fall
  • Ribbon Fall
  • Cascade Creek Fall
  • Royal Arches
  • Lehamite Falls
  • Snow Creek Fall
  • Echo Hill Drive
  • Silver Strand Fall
  • Sierra Pines Drive
  • Glacier Point
The above listed locations will be open to residents only. Residents will only be allowed to enter through the ENTRY POINT at Triangle Rd and Darrah Road. Please use either Triangle Road from Hwy 140 to the intersection at Darrah, or Darrah Road from Highway 49S to the Triangle intersection. Please have your identification / proof of residency ready to show at the Entry Point.
The following areas remain closed due to fire activity:
  • Monte Vista Lane
  • Vista Lago Lane
  • East Westfall Road and all side roads
  • Ponderosa Basin Subdivision
  • Triangle Road from East Westfall to Tip Top & all side roads
  • Triangle Park Road

Road Closures in the area:

  • Triangle Road at Darrah Road –Open to residents only
  • Monte Vista Lane
  • Triangle Rd at Tip Top
  • Vista Lago Lane
  • East Westfall Road and all side roads
General Information

Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office will have a heavy presence in the area to ensure the security and safety of residents and businesses. Due to the large amount of emergency equipment in the area, speed control will also be enforced.

There will still be smoke in the respective areas as firefighters continue firefighting operations. If at anytime 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 our website at http://www.mariposacounty.org/health or call 209-966-3689.

Mariposa County Public Works will be at Lushmeadows Store from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. providing  FREE residential spoiled food waste.

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”.

Make sure you are signed up to receive alerts if wildfire or other emergencies threaten.

Yosemite National Park

Officials have announced that Yosemite Valley will reopen to all visitors at 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 3. 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.

Due to continuing firefighting operations along the Wawona Road, 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 Hetch Hetchy area remains open. 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. The cause remains under investigation.

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

No new evacuations today.

New yesterday: Jerseydale Road is open with no restrictions as of 8 p.m. last night. There continues to be large amounts of fire related traffic in the area please drive with caution. The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office will continue heavy patrols in the area.

Mandatory evacuations are in place for:

  • Savage Trading Post
  • Redbud Lodge
  • Cedar Lodge
  • Indian Flat Campground
  • Ferguson Ridge
  • Incline Road from Clearing House to the Foresta Bridge in El Portal
  • The BLM campgrounds in Briceburg are closed until further notice
  • El Portal Trailer Park
  • Old El Portal
  • Rancheria Flat- Government Housing
  • Foresta
  • Yosemite View Lodge
  • Yosemite West
  • Anderson Valley
  • Old Yosemite Road
  • The north side of Triangle Road from Vista Lago to East Westfall and all side roads to the north
  • The north side of East Westfall to Old Mill and all side roads to the north
  • East Westfall Road to Chowchilla Mountain Road and all side roads
  • Entire Ponderosa Subdivision
  • Triangle Road from Darrah Road in the Lushmeadows area to Highway 49 South and all side roads
  • Tip Top Road from Triangle Road to Gunther Road including Gunther Road

Advisories have been issued for the following locations:

  • Darrah Road from Triangle to Sherrod Road
  • East side of Highway 49S from Darrah Road to Harris Cutoff Road – This includes Boyer Road, Woodland Area and Wass Road
  • Mariposa Pines on Scott Road from Best Road to the end of Hites Cove Road, including all side roads
  • Highway 49 South from Stumpfield Mountain Road to the Mariposa/Madera County Line including Kimble Road
  • Stumpfield Mountain Road
  • Watt Road
  • Lushmeadows
  • Jerseydale and Sweetwater Ridge Road

These areas are NOT under a mandatory evacuation order. This is an advisement only of a potential evacuation order should conditions change.

Should these areas come under a mandatory evacuation order you will be notified via the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Alert System by text, email and a voice call, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, and door-to-door communication by Sheriff’s Office staff. At that time you will be notified of the best routes of travel to safely evacuate your residence.

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

Highway 140 is closed from the El Portal entrance gate to 14 miles north of Mariposa.

Wawona Road (Highway 41) between Chilnualna Falls Road in Wawona and Bridalveil Falls Road in Yosemite Valley was closed beginning at noon on July 25.

Also closed are:

  • Triangle Road, from Darrah Road to Highway 49 south and all side roads
  • Chowchilla Mountain Road at Highway 49 south
  • Harris Road at Highway 49 south
  • Tip Top Road from Triangle Road to Gunther Road
  • All roads inside Ponderosa Basin Subdivision
  • Hites Cove Road from Bear Clover Road to the Merced River
  • River Road from Briceburg to the gate at Railroad Flat and all campgrounds
  • Anderson Valley Road
  • Old Yosemite Road

Cooperating Agencies include the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office, Madera County Sheriff’s Office, CAL OES, California Highway Patrol, Caltrans, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, American Red Cross, National Weather Service, California Conservation Corps, BLM and additional agencies throughout the state.

Below is this morning’s PIO map, and below that is the operations map for the night shift.

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Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online