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Sierra Hot Shots working south of Feliciana Mountain - photo USFS

More Structures Threatened, Ferguson Fire Now Over 32,000 Acres

Sierra Hot Shots working the Ferguson Fire south of Feliciana Mountain – photo USFS

MARIPOSA COUNTY – As temperatures continue to hover near the century mark, firefighters are powering through their ninth day on the lines of the Ferguson Fire.

The fire is burning on both the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests and grew to 32,484 acres today with 6 percent containment.

The number of structures threatened by the fire is now reported at 3,494.

There are currently 3,066 personnel assigned to the incident including 199 engines, 66 crews, 46 water tenders, 43 dozers, 16 helicopters, and fixed-wing tankers as conditions allow.

As the fire moved north toward the Montgomery Gulch and Anderson Valley areas, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office issued a Mandatory Evacuation Order for residents of Old Yosemite Road in the Groveland area.

Firefighters continued their defense of structures in the Jerseydale/ Mariposa Pines area and did mop-up work along the fire’s edge. The fireline in that area has been holding steady for several days now.

Prepping in Yosemite West – photo Gina Clugston

Crews continued to strengthen the line that runs from El Portal southeast toward Wawona Road and Yosemite National Park with additional hose lays in preparation for future burnout operations.

Firing operations in that area were planned for today’s day shift but when weather conditions didn’t cooperate, the burn was called off and crews continued with prepping the area so they’re ready to go when weather conditions are more conducive to accomplishing the goal.

Another engine strike team arrived at Yosemite West this evening and will tie in with the night shift to do prep and structure protection.

Also on the northeast part of the fire, the night shift will pick up where day crews left off by building indirect line east on Henness Ridge and crews are prepared to use these lines for firing operations when conditions become favorable.

North of the Merced River, firefighters are improving the direct line that is anchored in to the Merced River on the west side. Indirect line construction will continue, utilizing the Stanislaus National Forest road system where available.

Smoke and cloud buildup from Ferguson Fire over the ICP – photo Gina Clugston

Handline construction off Jenkins Hill down to the river hasn’t started yet as dozers are cleaning the road system in preparation. Those lines need to be ready to provide firefighters some way to move out if the fire threatens while they’re cutting hand line.

The fire continued to move up towards Grizzly Flats today, though it didn’t make it all the way there. Roads are pretty rugged in that area, say fire officials. They’ve identified several potential lines and should complete that scouting by tomorrow.

Parts of the fire on the north have now reached the footprint of the 2011 Motor Fire and the younger, more succulent brush has caused it to “hang up” in the drainage.

Crews made a big push with line down from Eagle Peak today, and should tie that in tonight near the river.

The fire has been flanking down toward structures by the Incline Road east of Briceburg, but crews are keeping with the fire and pushing it across the top above of those homes.

On the northwest corner south of the Merced River, firing operations from Sweetwater Ridge to the Merced River should be concluded today. Crews will continue to do mop-up following those firing operations and will continue to strengthen control line on the west perimeter.

The southeastern corner of the fire will continue moving through the timbered areas of Granite Ridge toward Chowchilla Mountain. Crews continue to construct indirect line and conduct firing operations in the Skelton Creek drainage. No significant issues were reported in that area today.

Sky Crane water drop on Ferguson Fire – photo USFS

At 9 a.m., a lead plane was sent in to evaluate conditions along Henness Ridge so air operations could start work.

At about 10 a.m., there was a request for four LATs (Large Air Tankers) between Footman Ridge and Granite Creek, however by 10:15 a.m., visibility and been reduced to the point it was unsafe for the fixed-wings to fly. However, air resources were able to get in the air by mid-afternoon.

At 10:30 a.m., reports came in of traumatic injury to a firefighter working near Yosemite West. Helicopter 551 was sent out to do a hoist operation to lift the injured firefighter off the fireline, and a ground ambulance was dispatched.

There have been six firefighter injuries reported. There has been one fatality on the fire.

VLAT over Ferguson Fire July 22 2018 – photo Derek Sprague

Just before 4:30 p.m., crews on the line were notified of thunderstorms east-northeast within 15 miles of the fire, with warnings that winds could gust up to 30 mph. The cloud buildup and smoke could be seen from miles around as firefighters in camp pulled out their phones to get pictures.

There was quite a bit of thunderstorm development to the east today and with that unstable atmosphere, fire activity increased. Those conditions were forecast to continue until sunset, and though no big gusts were expected, there was the potential for outflow winds which can be channeled by the canyons that make up the greater part of this fire’s footprint.

As the inversion strengthens overnight, poor visibility will return. Temperatures on the fireline should remain in the 70s throughout the night with relative humidity recovery around 60 percent. Then tomorrow, the heat returns. Along with the smoke.

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 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).

Though the west entrance (El Portal) to Yosemite National Park on Highway 140 is closed, the park remains open. For information on Yosemite National Park, go to nps.gov/yose or call 209-372-0200.

Cobras, Sequoia National Forest – photo Gina Clugston

The Incident Command Post for the Ferguson Fire is now 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.

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.

There will be a celebration of the life of Cal Fire Heavy Fire Equipment Operator Braden Varney on Monday, July 23, in Modesto. It will be live-streamed at https://vimeo.com/calfire.

Evacuations

New today: At 3:39 p.m., the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office ordered the evacuation of Old Yosemite Road, north of the fire burning across the Merced River on the Stanislaus National Forest. No evacuations or advisements were issued for the Greeley Hill or Coulterville Communities.

Mandatory evacuations are in place for:

  • Savage Trading Post
  • Redbud Lodge
  • Cedar Lodge
  • Indian Flat Campground
  • Mariposa Pines
  • Sweetwater Ridge
  • Ferguson Ridge
  • Jerseydale including all residences on Jerseydale Road, Hites Cove Road and all side roads from Triangle Road to the end of Hites Cove Road
  • 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

Advisories have been issued for the following locations:

  • Lushmeadows Community
  • Ponderosa Basin Community
  • Triangle Road from Jerseydale Road to Highway 49 South including all side roads
  • 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, Wass Road and Tip Top 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.

The following Red Cross locations are open to assist anyone affected by wildfires:

A Red Cross Evacuation Center has been established at the New Life Christian Church located at 5089 Cole Road in Mariposa. 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.

A second Evacuation Center has been opened to further accommodate those affected by the Ferguson Fire, located at Yosemite Valley Elementary School, 9009 Lost Arrow, in Yosemite Valley.

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.

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.

Also closed are Jerseydale Road, Hites Cove Road and all side roads from Triangle Road to the end of Hites Cove Road; River Road from Briceburg to the gate at Railroad Flat and all campground areas are closed; Hites Cove Road from Bear Clover Road to the Merced River.

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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