As the Ferguson Fire continues to burnt through the Yosemite area, a dense cloud of smoke has filled the Yosemite Valley, forcing officials to close areas of the Yosemite National Park and evacuate hundreds of campers. The fire currently sits at 69,440 acres and 41 percent contained.
With the smoke causing health risks for visitors, National Park officials closed Yosemite Valley as well as the Wawona area, Mariposa Grove and Merced Grove. The areas of the park were closed on July 25th and with no improvement in air quality, officials announced the park will stay closed until at least Sunday, August 5th.
Meanwhile, at least two popular camps for Bay Area youth were forced to evacuate Tuesday due to air quality. Camp Tawonga, a popular Jewish camp for Bay Area and out-of-state children, evacuated after less than two days at their site, while Camp Mather, another popular campground for families, also decided to close until conditions calm down.
Around 500 total campers were evacuated this week, with Camp Tawonga kids returning home and Camp Mather families were evacuated and given full refunds. Neither of the sites sit in danger of the fire, which is roughly 8 miles to the south, but winds had made the conditions unbearable.
We’ve made it to Yosemite, where it is incredibly smoky. Firefighters have been working for several days to build a fire line to help protect the rest of the park. #FergusonFire pic.twitter.com/v4NX6NM9mk
— Jaclyn Cosgrove (@jaclyncosgrove) August 1, 2018
The current closures create a tough situation for the popular National Park, who have recently received budget cuts and rely on the revenue of the visitors during the popular summer months to provide yearly resources for the park.
The smoke was intensified when CalFire began using backburning tactics on the western ridge, which allows firefighters to create their own containment lines near the fire. This is now the longest closure at Yosemite since 1997 when floods closed the park for over two months.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine