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Firefighters on Ferguson Fire - photo credit J Bartlett Team Rubicon-BLM for USFS

Yosemite Valley Reopens Today As Ferguson Fire Nears Containment

YOSEMITE – Crews continue to make good progress containing the Ferguson Fire on the northern perimeter just outside the entrance to Yosemite Valley.

The fire is now estimated at 96,606 acres and is 86 percent contained.

Yosemite Valley reopens to the public today at 9 a.m., after being closed since July 25 due to fire suppression activities and heavy smoke. Visitors can access the Valley via Highway 140 from Mariposa or on Big Oak Flat Road from Highway 120. Highway 41 remains closed between Wawona and the Tunnel view (see details below).

On the northern perimeter near Elephant Rock, the process of backing the fire slowly down from Highway 41 to the Merced River continues. Visitors should expect to see smoke as interior fuels burn themselves out.

The remainder of the fire is in mop-up and patrol status, lines have been secured, and suppression repair efforts are ongoing.

Crews are backhauling the equipment, hose and tools that were used in the suppression efforts but now are no longer needed. Over 200 miles of hose was used on the Ferguson Fire and used hose must be brought back to camp and rehabilitated for use on the next fire.

Operations on the fire are being conducted under a joint delegation of authority from the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests, and Yosemite National Park.

Some 1,254 acres have burned on the Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit, 65,460 acres on Sierra National Forest, 18,892 acres on the Stanislaus National Forest, and 11,000 acres on Yosemite National Park land.

As containment on the fire grows, the number of personnel assigned to the incident continues to drop and is now at 910.

The Ferguson Fire started on Friday, July 13, at 8:30 p.m., near Savage Trading Post on the south side of the Merced River canyon along Highway 140. The cause remains under investigation.

The Ferguson Fire is now the largest fire in the history of the Sierra National Forest. The estimated date for full containment is Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Ten historic structures have been destroyed, though no inhabited homes have been lost.

There have been 19 firefighter injuries reported. 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 on July 29 when he was struck by a tree during a firing operation.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley reopens to visitors today, Aug. 14, at 9 a.m. after being closed since July 25. Visitors can access Yosemite Valley from the El Portal Road (Highway 140), the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120), or the Tioga Road (Highway 120).

The Wawona Road (Highway 41) will remain closed from Wawona to Yosemite Valley until further notice due to ongoing fire activity and firefighter operations. Park visitors should be aware that there is still active fire and smoke on the roads and people should drive with extreme caution.

Delays on the roads are possible due to fire activity and ongoing firefighter operations. There will be limited hours and limited visitor services at park facilities as the park returns to normal operations.

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias reopened to the public yesterday, Aug. 13, at 9 a.m. Visitors can access the Mariposa Grove via the South Entrance (Highway 41) and park in the newly-constructed parking area.

The free shuttle buses to the Mariposa Grove begin at 9 a.m. and take visitors to the newly-restored Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

Visitors will be able to travel to the Wawona area via the South Entrance (Highway 41). However, there is no access to Yosemite Valley via Highway 41.

The Glacier Point Road remains closed and is expected to open when the Wawona Road (Highway 41) reopens.

The Hetch Hetchy Road and dam reopened on Saturday, Aug. 11. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Wapama Falls trail will remain closed. These limits are in effect due to air quality concerns.

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.

Air quality issues

For information on air quality 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.

General Information

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. California Interagency Incident Management Team 3, led by Incident Commander Mark von Tillow, assumed management of the Ferguson Fire at 6 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 3.

For information about the fire please call 530-377-6221.

Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken has signed a forest order closing several Groveland Ranger District roads and trails impacted by the Ferguson Fire. This closure is based on the current and expected fire behavior and will be in effect until Sept. 30, or until replaced or rescinded. Click here for details and a map of the closure.

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

Evacuations

  • There are no current evacuations.

Road Closures

  • Highway 140 reopens to the public today, Aug. 14, at 9 a.m.
  • Highway 41 reopened yesterday for access to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Wawona. It is open to residents only from Wawona to Yosemite West. There is a hard closure from Yosemite West to the Tunnel View. No estimated date to reopen has been given.
  • Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) into the Valley reopens to the public at 9 a.m. today.

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