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Hotshots ready to conduct firing operations - photo credit J Bartlett Team Rubicon- BLM for USFS

Successful Firing Operations Increase Containment On Ferguson Fire

MARIPOSA COUNTY – Firefighters continue to focus on tactical firing operations across the Ferguson Fire, which is now estimated at 57,846 acres and is now 33 percent contained.

Officials estimate there are 2,846 structures threatened by the fire, and one non-residential structure has been destroyed.

Crews made good progress overnight as they continued to widen and strengthen containment lines on the east, north and south.

Inside Yosemite National Park, firefighters along the eastern perimeter got within a mile of Wawona Campground with nighttime firing operations, working south along Wawona Road (Highway 41). When completed, the operation will add about six miles of improved containment line along the southwest corner of the fire.

On the section of fire burning north of the Merced River on the Stanislaus National Forest, crews will look for opportunities to conduct tactical burning operations up past Yosemite’s Merced Grove of giant sequoias and along the Thirteen Road toward Pilot Peak. Firefighters intend to link these two firing operations within the next two days by burning along Pilot Ridge on the Mariposa-Tuolumne county line.

On the eastern perimeter, crews are monitoring a portion of the fire that slopped over a containment line a few days ago about a mile southeast of El Portal. The fire is burning in steep terrain with an excessive amounts of beetle-killed trees, making it difficult to access. Crews are scouting areas to construct indirect containment lines while making use of water and retardant drops to keep the fire within its current boundaries.

Across the southern perimeter near Roundtree Saddle, spot fires from the previous day showed increased activity, but crews were able to keep them within their containment lines.

Firefighters continued to make significant progress firing containment lines from Roundtree Saddle toward Chowchilla Mountain Road, with hopes to connect to Wawona Campground within the next two days.

Natural resource specialists began surveying the western side of the fire today to assess areas requiring repair and mitigation. Firefighters, in conjunction with resource advisors, play an important role in helping the landscape recover from containment lines and other suppression tactics.

Area residents can expect to see increased smoke during the next few days as firing operations continue. Tactical firing is an effective way to reduce fuel loads while simultaneously widening or extending containment lines. It can reduce the duration and intensity of wildfires, particularly by decreasing available fuels and weakening the fire as it approaches containment lines.

During all tactical firing operations on the Ferguson Fire, firefighters and law enforcement maintain a presence in evacuated communities to ensure home and structure safety.

Residents can monitor the latest air quality and health advisories at:

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

There are currently 3,638 personnel assigned to the incident including 219 engines, 93 crews, 46 water tenders, 72 dozers, 14 helicopters, and fixed-wing tankers as conditions allow.

There have been eight firefighter injuries reported, and numerous instances of heat exhaustion-type symptoms. There have been two fatalities on the fire; HFEO Braden Varney was killed in a dozer rollover accident on July 14, and Brian Hughes, Arrowhead Hotshot Captain, lost his life yesterday when he was struck by a tree during a firing operation.

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.

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

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 yesterday: Evacuation orders were lifted at 9 a.m. yesterday for the East Westfall Road area. These areas will remain under a Fire Advisement – an advisement only of a potential Evacuation Order should conditions change.

The East Westfall area includes all homes on East Westfall from Triangle Road to Chowchilla Mt. Road including all side roads, and Chowchilla Mt. Road from Hwy 49S to East Westfall.

The Fire Advisement has been lifted for the Vista Lago, Monte Vista and Triangle Road from East Westfall to Hwy 49S including all side roads.

At 7 p.m. yesterday, evacuations were lifted for Ponderosa Basin and some residents of Highway 140.

These areas will be open to residents only and will remain under a Fire Advisement. Fire Advisement- an advisement only of a potential Evacuation Order should conditions change.

Evacuation Areas Lifted:

Ponderosa Basin– This includes the entire Ponderosa Basin area for RESIDENTS ONLY.

Entry Point location – All residents will need to enter using Highway 49S to Chowchilla Mt. Rd. Harris Rd at Highway 49S will remain closed.

Highway 140 Corridor – This area will include the following for RESIDENTS ONLY:

  • Savages Trading Post
  • Cedar Lodge
  • Indian Flat
  • Incline Road
  • Rancheria Flat- Government Housing & National Park Service
  • El Portal Complex

All residents will need to enter using Highway 140 in the Midpines area.

Mandatory evacuations remain in place for:

  • 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

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 from 1.5 miles West of Midpines to the Foresta Bridge- Open to Residents Only
  • Highway 140 from Foresta Bridge to Yosemite National Park Entrance
  • El Portal Rd
  • Foresta Road from El Portal Road to Foresta and all side roads

General information on returning to previously evacuated areas:

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 their website at http://www.mariposacounty.org/health or call 209-966-3689.

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.”

Cooperating Agencies on the Ferguson Fire include:

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