YOSEMITE – The El Portal Fire has now grown to 2,632 acres as it continues to char forests in Yosemite National Park (YNP) and the Stanislaus National Forest.
As of 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 27, there is still 0% containment, and 585 personnel from around the region continue to battle the blaze, along with air tankers and helicopters.
“This fire has been fast moving and there has been incredible firefighting work done to protect employees, residents and the park,” says Gary Wuchner, Fire Education and Information Manager for YNP. “The fire team made significant progress today.”
Resources include four Hot Shot Crews, two dozers, five Type 3 Wildland Engine Strike Teams. (A Strike Team consists of five engines). Fixed winged tankers and helicopters are being used during daylight hours. Those resources include eight air tankers, six helicopters and a DC10 (VLAT).
The fire was reported just after 3 p.m. Saturday, July 26, and has cause road closures and evacuations in the area.
The communities of Foresta and Old El Portal have been evacuated. The Park Service hopes to lift the evacuations by mid-week. At least one structure has been lost and more are threatened. Strike teams have been stationed at residences to protect them from advancing flames.
Several campgrounds have now been evacuated, including Crane Flat and Bridal Veil, which is being use for fire operations.
Yosemite Creek Campground has also been closed, this one due to the Dark Hollow Fire, which was spotted on July 16 about a mile south of the campground, and has grown to about 40 acres.
Big Oak Flat Road between Crane Flat and El Portal Rd is closed. This is a hard closure until further notice for the public, employees and residents. There is no access to Yosemite Valley via the Big Oak Flat Road or Higway 120.
Tioga Road is open and accessible via Big Oak Flat and Tioga Pass Entrances.
Yosemite National Park is open and Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and Wawona/Mariposa Grove areas are open and accessible via Highways 140 and 41. Tioga Road is not accessible via Highways 140 and 41, but can be reached coming in on Highway 120.
Red Cross shelters have been set up at the Groveland Community Center located at 18583 Main Street in Groveland and the Tenaya Lodge located at 1122 Highway 41 in Fish Camp.
Cooperating agencies include the National Park Service, Forest Service, Cal Fire, California Highway Patrol and Mariposa County.
At 6 p.m. on Sunday night, a Type 1 Fire Management Team from Southern California, was given command of this fire. The fire is on both NPS lands and Stanislaus National Forest, and Joint Unified Command has been established.
“As with any incident in our park, firefighter and public safety is our number one priority,” says Wuchner. “We appreciate everyone’s assistance and concern with this priority.”
The Dark Hole (lightning strike) and El Portal Fires will be managed by the Type 1 team for efficiency.
Future fire updates for the El Portal Fire will provided by the Incident Management Team, working closely with park management.
Smoke from the fire has obscured many of the famous vistas throughout the park. To view air quality and smokey conditions, have a look at the park’s webcams.
No injuries have been reported and the cause is under investigation.
(Photos courtesy of John-Mark Brix and Kayla B. Armstrong-Tilden)