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Tahoe Hot Shot on firing operation - photo credit Kari Greer

Ferguson Fire Over 51,000 Acres, Firing Operations Successful

Chumash Engine 802 firefighter – photo credit Kari Greer

MARIPOSA COUNTY – Firefighters had a productive day on the lines as they conducted firing operations on three sides of the fire.

The fire is now estimated at 51,671 and is 30 percent contained.

The inversion was very heavy this morning, creating extremely smoky conditions in Mariposa, Oakhurst and many other surrounding communities.

The dense smoke once again delayed air operations. Helicopters were up in the early afternoon, but it was about 3 p.m. before air tankers were able to get to work.

On the northern part of the fire burning on the Stanislaus National Forest, crews have tied in lines up toward Soapstone and initiated firing operations there to remove fuels and minimize the impact of the fire running to the line and potentially crossing it.

They will fire the line up through Montgomery Ridge north to Pilot Peak and tie it in to the line on Pilot Ridge. They are also utilizing the road system in the Paps Gulch and Domingo Flat area. Crews will be putting fire on the ground and burning out the “big box” up there over the next 48 hours.

Resources are staged throughout Anderson Valley during the firing operations. Crews did some firing around structures today to protect them as the fire backs down.

Burning operations south of El Portal – photo USFS

Firing operations south of El Portal went well over the last couple days. At the end of day shift yesterday, when the inversion finally lifted, a spot fire was identified about 1,000 feet across the line to the east off Henness Ridge.

Crews hiked in to the 4-acre spot and were able to get hose to the fire. The steep terrain, with rocks coming down off the mountain, made it unsafe for firefighters to work the spot last night, but with help from helicopters today, crews were able to get it contained.

The fire backed down almost to the Merced River near Pigeon Gulch today, and threw a few spot fires down between the road and the river, but crews were able to contain them.

Drip torch on the Ferguson Fire – photo USFS

Farther east down Henness Ridge below Yosemite West, crews conducted firing operations along the line toward Highway 41 inside Yosemite National Park. They made it about halfway last night, and the day shift resumed firing at about 10 a.m. this morning.

Once they reach Highway 41, they will turn south and continue firing along the west side of the road as conditions allow, removing the fuel and slowing the approach of the main fire as it moves in from the west.

The firing operation is expected to take place over the next three to four days. Crews have prepped about ¾ of the way down from Yosemite West to Wawona campground, and retardant has been put down on the east side of the road to stop any spotting over.

The southern part of Yosemite will remain closed until at least Aug. 3. The community of Wawona has dozer line around it and firelines are plumbed. Firefighters are staged across the area for structure protection, but officials do not expect the fire to impact the Wawona area.

Dozer work on Devils Peak – photo USFS

On the southern perimeter near Kirby Peak and Footman Ridge, crews have worked tirelessly over the past few days and have held the slopover and completed the line across the bottom of the fire north of East Westfall Road. There are several dozer lines south of the main containment line to create a catch for the ember wash when northerly winds impact the fire there.

Crews did a lot of mop-up in that area today. There was very little fire activity, just some interior burning.

Evacuations were lifted for the Triangle Road area today for residents only (see details below).

Smoke was visible today in the Devils Gulch area as firefighters conducted burnout operations east toward Roundtree Saddle. They achieved good results, with the fire backing down deep into the gulch and creating a good, wide fireline. There was no threat to the line, say fire officials, and crews are doing mop-up there.

The terrain through the Roundtree area is a bit challenging, but once they get around the saddle, the firing will be easier as they head east on Chowchilla Mountain Road and tie in to the line around the west side of Wawona Campground.

Ponderosa Basin remains under an evacuation order as the fire continues to be active in Devils Gulch, just north of the community. Favorable winds from the south assisted suppression efforts there today, helping to push the fire back into itself. However at night, winds have been coming down from the north, lining up to potentially impact the Basin.

Planners say they are being very diligent about the safety of that community in ensuring they get past Roundtree Saddle with burning before reassessing the evacuation orders in place there. They reevaluate twice a day, and will get those residents back into their homes just as soon as it is safe to do so.

Crews are still in the Jerseydale/ Mariposa Pines area doing mop-up, but the lines are holding well and officials expect that area to be in patrol status by the end of the day.

Officials estimate 5,236 structures are threatened by the fire, and just one non-residential structure has been destroyed.

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

There are currently 3,861 personnel assigned to the incident including 272 engines, 93 crews, 45 water tenders, 78 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 7 p.m. this evening, evacuation orders for the Triangle Road area were lifted for residents only. These areas will remain under a Fire Advisement of a potential Evacuation Order should conditions change.

The Triangle area includes the following locations:

  • Triangle Road from East Westfall to Hwy 49S
  • Triangle Park Road
  • Falling Acorn Drive
  • Stellers Jay

Due to the large amount of emergency equipment in the area, speed control will also be enforced.

The above listed locations will be open to residents only. Residents will only be allowed to enter through the ENTRY POINT at Triangle Road 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

Road Closures in the area:

  • Triangle Road from East Westfall to Hwy 49s.- Residents Only
  • Monte Vista Lane
  • 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.

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 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 disposal.

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.

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:  Evacuations were lifted for the Lushmeadows area. Click here for details.

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
  • Tip Top Road from Triangle Road to Gunther Road including Gunther Road

Advisories have been issued for the following locations:

  • Triangle Road from East Westfall to Highway 49 South and all side roads

This area is 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 Fall Road in Yosemite Valley were closed beginning at noon on July 25.

Also closed are:

  • 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 are the Operations Map with infrared and this morning’s PIO map.

 

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