Wildfire forces closure of Yosemite National Park
National Park Service-decision gives fire fighters more freedom to aggressively attack on the Ferguson fire with dozers, engines and helicopters without worrying about the clogged roads and the saving of lives; William La Jeunesse reports from Los Angeles.
s of Yosemite National Park will be closed “indefinitely” due to the ongoing forest fires in and around the picturesque valley, the National Park Service said Sunday.
The closures are Yosemite Valley, El Portal Road, Wawona Road, Big Oak Flat Road, Glacier Point, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias, Wawona Campground, Crane Flat Campground and Tamarack Camping.
“Brand managers are continuously assessing the circumstances in the region and will work directly with and advise park managers if conditions change and it is safe to reopen,” the National Park Service said in a statement.
In this Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018 image of a Yosemite Conservancy webcam, smoke from forest fires obscures the Ahwahnee Meadow in Yosemite National Park, California.
(A Webcam by Yosemite Conservancy via AP)
As of Sunday, the Ferguson fire had burned 89,633 acres and was 38 percent contained. It is one of the 18 major fires burning in the Golden State and the smoke is full of the Yosemite Valley, blocking views of El Capitan and Half Dome in addition to the Yosemite Falls.
“In talking to people, no one has ever seen the smoke of this heavy,” park spokesman Scott Gediman told the Los Angeles Times.
On Friday, evacuations were ordered by “multiple hazards” along different roads in addition to power outage in Yosemite Valley. Two firefighters have died so far fighting with blaze.
Ferguson Fire officials told FOX26 that all the power in the Yosemite Valley, and there was no way for park workers to eat, or filter the air as a result of the failure.
CARR FIRE CLAIMS 7TH DEATH IN CALIFORNIA FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE FIRESTORM
In July of this year 25, 2018 file photo, Hannah Whyatt poses for a friend to take a photo of the smoke from the Ferguson fire fills Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California.
(AP Photo/Noah Berger)
The majority of the park’s signature attractions in the valley is covered by a suffocating haze for days, although the shift of wind means that the pollution and visual clarity changes throughout the day, according to Pete Lahm, air resource specialist for the U. S. Forest Service, that runs on the Wildland Fire air quality Response Program. Yosemite officials to refer visitors to the website to check for contamination.
“The whole park at this time was beaten up in smoke,” Lahm told the Associated press. “This area certainly has the highest levels of air pollution) in the U.S. right now,” he said, adding that other parts of Northern California and southern Oregon were also at unhealthy levels due to forest fires.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s “Air Now” web site on Friday included in the Air Quality Index in Yosemite at a staggering 386, or “dangerous” — higher than the smog-choked city of Beijing, who had an “unhealthy” AQI 119 in the same time.
Officials note that the AQI changes during the day and that the pollution of industrial fabric, automobiles, and emissions is different than fires burning through trees and grass, but still unhealthy. On Sunday, the quality shifted down to “unhealthy.”
‘FIRE TORNADO’ REACHED 143 KM / H AS IT CAUSED A PATH OF DESTRUCTION IN A SCORCHED CALIFORNIA
In July of this year 25, 2018 file photo, a sign on the Highway 41 announces the closure of Yosemite National Park near Oakhurst, Calif.
(AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Not all of the park is closed; approximately the northern third of the Park has remained open. But the officials say that Yosemite ‘ s longest and most extensive closure since 1997, when floods close the park for two months.
For visitors who want to enjoy the sights during the busy summer holiday season, the closures will be a blow to plan.
“I’m absolutely gutted we can’t go to Yosemite,” British tourist Caroline Lansell told the AP this summer on vacation to California with her husband and two children.
Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed