MARIPOSA, Calif. – A California forest fire on the west side of Yosemite National Park was the ever-growing Saturday after two firefighters were injured while battling with the flames in the burning summer heat to protect mountain communities in the Sierra Nevada.
The Ferguson fire was churning northward in Sierra National Forest, sending smoke obscured views of the valley in the park. Yosemite remained open, but one of the scenic routes, Glacier Point Road, closed for the stage of the firefighters.
The crews were on a break from the strong winds, but were contending with rugged terrain and sweltering temperatures, said Deputy director Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and fire protection.
“The vegetation is so dry there, and it’s so hot. This fire will continue to grow,” he said.
The flames have charred about 42 square miles (110 square kilometers) of wood.
Two firefighters, who were admitted to the hospital Friday after suffering from back problems, have since been released and is expected to fully recover, said fire spokesman Rich Eagan.
A total of four firefighters have been injured since the fire broke out July 13. A bulldozer operator was killed in the days after the fire began while trying to stop the spread.
More than 2,800 of the fire brigade, helped by a fleet of aircraft fighting the fire, but only 7 percent of the circumference was recorded.
Several areas were under mandatory evacuation orders. Residents of other communities were advised to be ready to leave if necessary, but no houses were damaged or destroyed.
Forest fires burned or smoldered elsewhere in the country, including east of Los Angeles in the near of the Riverside County town of Corona. Most of the evacuations ordered at the height of the fire Thursday afternoon, were lifted that night, but the firemen had a lot of work to do to have a complete containment line around the 250-acre (101-hectare) burn scar.
In Santa Barbara County, firefighters were able to get a handle on a fast-moving brush fire that broke out Friday in Buellton. It was more than 30 percent contained.
The National meteorological Service warned that a prolonged period of high heat was brewing for a large swath of the state.
Excessive heat watches and warnings are in effect early next week in Southern California and in the Central Valley with high pressure strengthened over the Southwestern states, the weather service said.
A memorial service for Braden Varney, who was killed during the operation of the bulldozer for Cal Fire, will be held Monday in Modesto.