Update: Ferguson Fire Containment Hike, Limited Opening Of Yosemite Valley
View a timeline of Ferguson Fire News Stories here.
Update at 7 p.m.: The latest numbers on the Ferguson Fire show a hike in the containment to 68-percent while the acreage held at 94,992 acres. Incident command had predicted a jump in the containment after crews made significant gains in fighting the flames last night and today. Further details on today’s firefighting efforts and evacuation information is below.
Update at 11:30am: As of 10 a.m., those who live and/or work in Yosemite Valley began to be allowed back into the area. Ferguson Fire officials stress the area is not open to the public.
The fire, at 94,992 acres today, is expected to increase in containment although it remains at 43 percent at present. Personnel on the day shift today totals 2,039, including 157 engines; 18 water tenders; 14 helicopters; 25 crews; 28 dozers; 5 masticators.
Evacuated residents in communities who were affected by the fire are beginning to return home and the area is reopening for business. Yosemite’s Tioga Road is open through the park, including Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, White Wolf Campground, Soda Spring, Tenaya Lake, and Lembert Dome.
Vegetation along steep terrain continues to burn between the Big Oak Flats Road and El Portal Road moving toward the Cascade Falls picnic area. Firefighters completed a successful burnout operation last night over the tunnel.
Securing the fire at Cascade Falls area is critical to prevent the fire from moving into the valley and spreading to the south and north rims. This finger of the fire also effects all the major roads entering Yosemite Valley. Hotshot crews are constructing and reinforcing direct hand line from North Wawona Road around the fire’s edge to Glacier Point Road and west to Chinquapin.
Officials reports that the stable atmosphere continues to aid the firefighters; however, the vegetation is extremely dry and the probability of that vegetation igniting with an ember is 90 percent.
As we reported earlier here, Stanislaus National Forest officials closed several roads and trails on the Groveland Ranger District until Sept. 30. As for Yosemite National Park, besides the valley, Wawona Road, the Mariposa and Merced groves of giant sequoias, Hetch Hetchy, among other areas, remain closed.
Original Post at 9am: Yosemite National Park, CA — Incident command officials report significant milestones in fighting the Ferguson Fire, last reported at 94,992 acres with 43 percent containment.
Last night at 6 p.m. residents only were allowed back into Yosemite West and the mandatory evacuation was reduced to an advisory. Assigned personnel at 2,357, includes 202 engines; 18 water tenders; 14 helicopters; 39 hand crews; 33 dozers; 5 masticators.
Containment of the fire perimeter from the Merced Grove west along Old Yosemite Road to Pilot Peak and through Anderson Valley was a key piece in opening of Highway 120 yesterday. Firefighters constructed line around a small spot fire outside of the fire perimeter near the Merced Grove and night crews monitored it through the night. Spot fires remain a concern, however managers report that firefighters have been able to contain the detected spot fires.
Moderate fire behavior allowed firefighters the opportunity to complete direct hand line in the Crane Creek drainage above El Portal and a combination of hand line and dozer line was constructed around the community of Foresta. Firefighters were successful in protecting all the structures in the community.
Fire Impacts On Yosemite Valley Access
Fire is affecting three major roads leading into Yosemite Valley; Big Oak Flat Road, El Portal Road and Wawona Road. Securing the fire at Cascade Falls area is critical to prevent the movement of fire into the valley and spreading to the South and North valley rims. The fire is burning in extremely steep terrain between the Big Oak Flat and El Portal roads, moving toward the Cascade Falls picnic area. Firefighters have hose lays above the big tunnel and are attempting to pinch off the fire in this area.
The hottest and most active part of the fire continues to be between Wawona Road, Glacier Point Road and Chinquapin, where the fire is burning into old fire scars. Reduction of fuel within the scars enable crews to work directly on the fire’s edge. A small spot fire was worked in front of the main fire and crews constructed hand line around it. Crews are monitoring the spot and also working to contain the main fire.
Yosemite West residents should expect delays due to hazards impacting the roadway such as falling trees and rock travelling between Wawona and Yosemite West. As firefighters and utility crewmembers continue to be working in the Yosemite West community, hoses, pumps and sprinklers may still be in place in and around homes.
Suppression repair efforts are underway on the southern and western portions of the fire. This may include using heavy equipment to build water bars, bringing in berms and vegetation if available to reduce erosion during future storms and to allow vegetation regrowth. This also helps the restore the habitat of the local flora and fauna. Repairs also include protection of cultural/archaeological sites by reducing access to those sites.
To read yesterday’s progress, click here.