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Yosemite Valley closed due to Ferguson Fire




The Yosemite Valley is being evacuated and closed to all visitors due to the furious Ferguson fire burning largely unchecked at the park's western boundary, the National Park Service said Tuesday

Hotels, campgrounds and visitor services in the Valley and Wawona at the southern end of the park are closed on Wednesday lunchtimes and remain closed "at least until Sunday," said Park Spokesman Scott Gediman.

Park visitors can leave the park via Highways 120 and 41.

The wildfire burning in the steep, rugged, parched grounds near Yosemite National Park is still spreading to the park, but firefighters are gaining ground. [196591] The Ferguson Fire That Devoured "We're making slow progress," said Rich Eagan, a spokesman for the fire. "Maybe not as fast as some people would like, but we work hard and make progress."


Favorable weather conditions enabled crews to lay more lines around the fire, using airplanes and helicopters that crashed water and fire extinguishers. The lines help prevent the fire from spreading.

However, high temperatures expected on Wednesday and Thursday – predicted to be as high as 103 degrees – are expected to heighten firefighting in the coming days, Eagan said.

The fire started on July 13 in the Merced River Canyon, just west of Yosemite National Park along Highway 140. Flames have reached within about two miles of the park, forcing the closure of Highway 140 and the entrance to the Arch Rock. Some workers 'and visitors' homes have been evacuated, and suffocating clouds of smoke have moved to the Yosemite Valley at the height of the tourist season.

The fire has also killed a fireman and injured six.

On Tuesday morning, 3,311 firefighters fought against the inferno. They were supported by 194 engines, 45 water stations, 16 helicopters, 91 hand crews and 52 bulldozers. Firefighters from all over the country continue to flow into Mariposa County.

The Yosemite remains open, and while it is overcrowded by tourists, heavy smoke has hindered hiking and other outdoor activities. Yosemite Valley air quality has been measured at an unhealthy level, and people who are sensitive to smoke are encouraged to avoid physical activity.


Michael Cabanatuan is a staff member of the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: mcabanatuan@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ctuan


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