YOSEMITE — Crews made good progress on the South Fork Fire yesterday, constructing hand line on the west flank of the fire north of Wawona Dome.
The fire is now estimated at 2,903 acres with 10 percent containment. There are 528 personnel assigned to the incident including 13 hand crews, 7 helicopters, 11 engines and 3 air tankers.
UPDATE 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 19 — There is now a mandatory evacuation in place for the Wawona community.
Burning operations may continue today if conditions are favorable to secure the protection of the Wawona community and the Mariposa Sequoia Grove.
Heavy inversions grounded aircraft until late afternoon yesterday. Flights will continue when conditions allow.
Strategic objectives remain the same: utilize air and ground resources to hold the western and southern flanks while monitoring the northern and eastern edges. Minimal Impact Suppression Techniques are being used in the Yosemite Wilderness to manage the area of the fire, using natural barriers such as rocks or streams and trails and other minimal disturbance methods to control the fire.
Smoke will continue to affect the Wawona area, particularly in the mornings and evenings. Community members who are sensitive to smoke should consult their physician and may want to remain indoors or leave the area in periods of heavy smoke.
The National Park Service staff will hold a community meeting on Saturday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m. at the Wawona Community Center. An air quality specialist will be attending the meeting to answer any questions.
Thunderstorm activity again threatens the fire area, causing erratic winds and a spot fire over the Merced River to the south. Gusty erratic winds associated with thunderstorms caused spot fires west of the fire line in Division A. Crews continue suppression efforts on these spots.
Yosemite National Park’s Wawona Campground will reopen on Saturday, Aug. 19. Visitors can make reservations at www.recreation.gov, by calling 877-444-6777 or by visiting the Wawona Campground Office.
There is a new live information phone number and email for the South Fork Fire. The phone will be answered from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 209-379-5322, or email
In order to maintain the safety of park visitors and allow fire management operations to continue unimpeded, the Superintendent of Yosemite National Park is designating the following area as closed until further notice is given:
- The Swinging Bridge Trail on both the north and south sides of the South Fork of the Merced River.
- The Chilnualna Falls Trail from Wawona Trailhead to the top of Chilnualna Falls.
- The two mile connecting trail heading north from the top of Chilnualna Falls to the intersection of the Buena Vista Trail.
- The Chilnualna Creek Trail from the top of Chilnualna Falls east to the intersection of the Buena Vista and Buck Camp trails (Just east of Johnson Lake).
- Off-trail areas in the vicinity are closed (i.e. all areas within the shaded circle on the map below).
- All climbing routes on and around Wawona Dome are closed.
“Notice of closure will be posted and area will be monitored to ensure compliance,” say Park officials. “Your cooperation in complying with this temporary restriction is greatly appreciated. The designation will remain in place until rescinded.”
On Wednesday morning, the Office of the Superintendent in Yosemite announced these operational changes:
- Bridalveil Creek Campground closed on Wednesday morning.
- Wawona trail (mule) rides are not operating.
- Big Trees Golf Course is closed.
- The Badger Pass-Glacier Point shuttle will not operate until further notice as the incident command post is occupying the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area facility and parking lot.
- The Glacier Point Road will will remain open to the public however it will close periodically between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day when parking at Glacier Point fills to capacity (and will reopen when sufficient space is available). Traffic delays should be expected.
- A voluntary ban on wood fires is in place in Yosemite Valley to reduce smoke. A mandatory ban may be instituted in the days to come.
The South Fork Fire was reported just after 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 13, and is burning on the South Fork of the Merced River drainage, south of Wawona Dome approximately one mile east of the Swinging Bridge.
Heavy smoke continues to impact Wawona and the areas surrounding Yosemite, especially overnight and through the morning hours, adding more smoke to what is being produced by the Empire Fire near Bridalveil Campground, which is now estimated at 1,450 acres.
Air quality in Wawona is expected to be extremely smoky and to reach unhealthy/ hazardous conditions. Smoke is expected to fill the canyons west of Wawona to Mariposa, and affect visibility along Highway 140 from El Portal to Mariposa, Wawona Road south to Fish Camp, and roads along Tioga Pass to the Mono Lake area.
Some of the agencies assisting on the fire, in addition to the National Park Service, include the U.S. Forest Service, BLM, Cal Fire, Mariposa County Fire, Kern County Fire, and a host of county and city fire departments and federal resources.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The estimated date of containment is Sunday, Sept. 3.
For additional information:
- Rapid Notify is a community alert system for rapid event notifications. Register by visiting www.alert.rapid notify.com
- Nixle is a public-safety notification system. Sign up for emergency alerts by texting 95389 to 888-777 or visit their website at www.nixle.com
- Fire Information: Yose_Fire_Info@nps.gov
- Yosemite National Park Fire Information website: http://www.nps.gov/yose/blogs/fireinfo.htm
- Facebook, search: Yosemite Fire and Aviation
- Twitter, search @YosemiteFire : http://www.twitter.com/YosemiteFire
Air quality links for Yosemite National Park:
Click here for a perimeter map.
Click here for interactive map.
Trail closure map below.