YOSEMITE – Fires are inundating not only California, but most of the western United States, leaving both unprecedented smoky skies as well as widespread damage in their wake.
Fire is an important part of the wilderness ecosystem, however. The National Park Service will let fires, such as this one just below the Tioga Road in Yosemite, burn naturally, allowing them to clear ground-based litter, undergrowth, and fallen logs.
The Blue Jay Fire was started by lightning on July 24. By early September, it had moved relatively slowly through about 3,200 acres of Yosemite’s high country. Since it was in a wilderness area and there were no significant threats to people or property, fire crews mostly just monitored its progress.
On Sept. 11, the day this image was photographed, the fire was crowning in a group of trees within 1/4 mile of Tioga Road as it climbed the slope toward the road. The following day Tioga Road was closed, but reopened on Sept. 13 for one-way controlled traffic.
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©2020 Photography by Scott Highton.