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Arrowhead Hot Shot on firing operation - photo Kari Greer

Ferguson Fire Now Over 44,000 Acres, Successful Firing Operations Today

MARIPOSA COUNTY – Firefighters battled both the fire and the heat today as temperatures climbed toward the 100 degree mark in the canyons across the Ferguson Fire, now estimated at 44,223 acres, still with 27 percent containment.

Crews took advantage of calm winds and hazy skies from a persistent inversion layer to widen containment lines through tactical firing operations.

Dozer on Ferguson Fire – photo Gina Clugston

As has been the case every day with this fire, the inversion layer hampered air operations for much of the day.

In the area of yesterday’s slop-over on Kirby Ridge north of Lushmeadows, dozers “worked relentlessly” to get line cut, say fire officials. As of noon today, the breakout was estimated at about 400 acres.

Another slop-over in the same division – this one at about noon – became the priority for helicopters as soon as they had clean air enough to operate. A shift in wind direction to a southwesterly flow contributed to the new breakout.

Fire on Kirby Ridge – photo Gina Clugston

The fire was fairly active in the slop-over area with fire chunking downhill, but there wasn’t much lateral movement. Later in the afternoon the winds came up, and as of 6 p.m., fire officials report that it was heating up and lofting some hot debris down into Devil’s Gulch. The fire has backed down into the gulch and is not making any major movement, just pushing itself down the ridge.

The evacuations in Lushmeadows and Ponderosa Basin are still in effect, and fire officials say they’re working hard to get that portion of the fire contained so they can repopulate those communities as soon as possible.

In Ponderosa Basin, crews continue work on the contingency lines. They are cutting line around the homes and have put extensive contingency lines around the community. There are two contingency groups assigned to the area. Crews are working to improve some of the road network in case the fire pushes that direction.

At 8 p.m., the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office announced that Jerseydale Road is open with no restrictions. There is a large amounts of fire-related traffic in the area and the Sheriff’s Office will continue heavy patrols.

Everything up through Jerseydale and Mariposa Pines is holding well. They did have one small spot fire of about three acres on the north end of Mariposa Pines last night, but crews worked quickly to get a line around it, and it’s holding.

Photo credit Kari Greer

Once they get a line around the active fire north of Lushmeadows, planners say they will continue the original plan of firing along the line that runs over to the Wawona area. Just below the Chowchilla Mountain Road, fallers are dropping hazard trees and crews are laying in hose in preparation for firing operations there.

It is expected to take some time to get around Roundtree Saddle with the tough topography, but they will take their time moving the fire through that area. Once they get around Roundtree, they expect the operation to speed up as they work their way east toward Highway 41.

Everything across Sweetwater Ridge and up to Highway 140 remains in check and within its footprint.

On the north, crews continue to tie in the last bit of dozer line to finish the big box around the portion of the fire burning on the Stanislaus National Forest north of the Merced River. They are also looking for alternative places to build line closer in to the active fire and do a more direct attack. They are assisted by the Rim Fire burn scar, and the fire may run into limited fuels.

Photo credit Kari Greer

At about 10 a.m., crews started a test fire off Cathewood Saddle between El Portal and Yosemite West. With the success of the test fire, the firing operation started at about noon, burning north toward El Portal. Crews took it nice and slow, and they think they can reach El Portal this evening. If not, the night shift will pick up where they left off.

There are structure specialists working in the communities of El Portal, Foresta and Yosemite West. They are evaluating the structures and there are hose lays around those communities to ensure they are protected if any fire activity moves outside the line.

Between El Portal and Yosemite West, planners are holding the fire on Henness Ridge. They want to make sure they complete their work over to El Portal before looking at the possibility of pulling the fire east out to Highway 41 near Elevenmile Meadow area.

Inside Yosemite National Park, crews continue to tie the Empire and South Fork fire together and work on contingency lines farther into the park.

There is a structure group in Wawona and there are hose lays around the community. Fire officials don’t expect the fire to impact that area, but they want to be prepared, so crews are removing some brush around structures and making it a little more fire-safe.

Firefighters have started to do prep work along Highway 41 inside the park, removing hazard trees and cutting brush on the west side of the road.

There are currently 3,821 personnel assigned to the incident including 261 engines, 93 crews, 55 water tenders, 63 dozers, 16 helicopters, and fixed-wing tankers as conditions allow.

Firefighters will once again be dealing with temperatures near 100 degrees in the canyons, and humidity is forecast down as low as the mid-30s as we move into the weekend.

About 3,000 homes have been evacuated ahead of the Ferguson Fire.

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

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

Two Ferguson Fire community meetings are scheduled – one for today, July 26, at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds Sequoia Hall, from 6 to 7 p.m.; a second on Friday, July 27, in Groveland and Tenaya Elementary School. Representatives from the Unified Command of Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office will present an overview of the current situation and actions underway to contain the fire. Please arrive early as the meetings will start promptly at 6 p.m. If you have questions about the meetings, please call the Ferguson Fire Info Line at (530) 377-6221.

The Glacier Point Road inside Yosemite National Park has been closed to accommodate firefighting resources and activities at a small base camp located at the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area (formerly Badger Pass) and Bridalveil Creek Campground (which is also closed).

The west entrance (El Portal) to Yosemite National Park on Highway 140 is closed.

Smoke at Tunnel View in Yosemite – photo Kari Greer

Yosemite Valley and Wawona are closed to the public as of noon Wednesday, July 25. The closure is expected to last through Sunday, July 29. Highway 120 east and west remains open, along with Tuolumne Meadows. For information on Yosemite National Park, go to nps.gov/yose or call 209-372-0200.

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.

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.

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

New today: Jerseydale Road is open with no restrictions as of 8 p.m.. 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
  • Entire Lushmeadows Subdivisions
  • 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
  • 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 Lushmeadows Subdivision
  • 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.

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