Article By: Danielle Haynes
July 24 (UPI) — Portions of Yosemite National Park will be closed down later this week after the Ferguson Fire grew to more than 36,000 acres, U.S. parks officials announced Tuesday.The National Park Service said it plans to close Yosemite Valley and Wawona at noon Wednesday and evacuate visitors at hotels and campgrounds in the Central California area. The closure was expected to last through Sunday.
The South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team said the 36,587-acre wildfire — which grew by about 3,000 acres since Monday — was 25 percent contained, nearly double that of the day before. The team described the wildfire, which started July 13, as “relatively calm” Monday as crews increased containment.
Steep, inaccessible terrain has made the Ferguson Fire particularly dangerous. On July 14, Braden Varney, 36, a heavy equipment operator with CalFire, died on site after a bulldozer rolled while he was battling the blaze. Six other firefighters sustained injuries. There have been no civilian deaths or injuries from the blaze. The fire has destroyed one non-residential structure and threatens nearly 3,500 more.
Officials issued mandatory evacuations for locations throughout the region, including some parts of Yosemite, the Rancheria Flat government housing, Savage’s Trading Post, the Jerseydale and Mariposa Pines communities, and Sweetwater Ridge. Officials issued air quality alerts for Yosemite, Sierra National Forest and Stanislaus National Forest.