National Parks officials announced Friday that Yosemite Valley will reopen to visitors 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14.
Yosemite Valley has been shuttered since July 25 because of the Ferguson Fire.
“We’d like to express our sincere gratitude to the firefighters and incident command teams for their great efforts in suppressing the Ferguson Fire,” said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Michael Reynolds. “We’d also like to express our gratitude and thanks to our gateway communities who tirelessly helped visitors to the area while they were being impacted by the fire.
“This is truly a historic and unprecedented event in park history, and we are thrilled to welcome back visitors to Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove.”
Visitors can access Yosemite Valley from the El Portal Road (Highway 140), the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120), or the Tioga Road (Highway 120). Delays on the roads are possible due to fire activity and ongoing firefighter operations, parks officials said.
The Wawona Road (Highway 41) will remain closed from Wawona to Yosemite Valley for at least another week due to ongoing fire activity and firefighter operations.
Crews Focus on Keeping Flames Away from Yosemite Valley
Having contained 80% of the Ferguson Fire, the team battling the biggest blaze in Sierra National Forest history is focused on keeping the flames out of Yosemite Valley, officials said Friday morning.
“The final piece that must be secured remains between El Portal Road and Wawona Road,” states the Ferguson Fire website. “To secure this line, firefighters are implementing tactical burning operations along Wawona road north towards Turtle Dome. This operation is expected to take two or three days to complete. Night and day resources are focused on this operation.”
In addition, crews are patrolling the contained fire line. Suppression repair resources are working to remove signs of suppression activity and prevent erosion, officials said.
Much of the park remains open ahead of Tuesday’s reopening of Yosemite Valley. Tioga Road from Tioga Pass to White Wolf is open, as are the Tuolumne Meadows Campground and the Tuolumne Meadows Store.
Information: nps.gov/yose, 209-372-0200.
Mendocino Complex Fire Won’t Be Squelched Until September
Fire crews have made progress against the biggest blaze in California history but officials say the fire won’t be fully contained until September.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Friday the blaze in Northern California is 60 percent contained.
The Mendocino Complex Fire of twin fires burning side by side has been raging through tinder-dry vegetation for two weeks.
It has destroyed 119 homes and charred an area the size of Los Angeles.
Officials say a much more destructive blaze burning farther north near the city of Redding is now 51 percent contained.
That blaze destroyed more than 1,000 homes and displaced 38,000 people.
Holy Fire Threatens Neighborhoods
Firefighters battled through the night to keep a raging forest fire from reaching foothill neighborhoods in Southern California.
The arson blaze in the Cleveland National Forest gained renewed strength Thursday, racing along ridges and coming within yards of homes.
Hundreds more firefighters have joined the battle, bringing the total to 1,200. The fire has blackened 16 square miles of timber and brush and is only 5 percent contained. More than 20,000 residents are evacuated.
California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Orange and Riverside counties.
A man charged with intentionally setting the fire is scheduled for arraignment Friday.
Inmates, Soldiers, Foreign Firefighters Enlisted for Blazes
California prisoners are fighting fires. Cal Fire trains minimum-security inmates and pays them $1 an hour in the field and $2 a day when they’re not on duty. Inmate firefighters also typically have their sentences reduced for every day spent fighting fires.
They do similar work to any firefighter, working long hours and sleeping in camps with other inmates. Most are on the front lines, using chain saws and hand tools to reduce tinder-dry brush and trees to stop the flames.
53 From Down Under
Firefighters from Australia and New Zealand are helping California, arriving this week at the Mendocino Complex Fire after an 8,600-mile flight and two-hour bus trip.
Craig Cottrill, chief of the Wellington Fire Department in New Zealand, said his country doesn’t see fires nearly as big as California’s.
Rob Gore, a firefighter from the Australian capital of Canberra, said it makes for good relationships that Australians often fight fires in North America and that Canadians and Americans regularly fight fires in his country.
“When those big events happen across the continents, we all pitch in,” he said.
The New Zealanders have been assigned as safety officers, line supervisors and heavy equipment “bosses” who direct bulldozer operators.
They are undergoing four days of training to fight wildfires and are expected to be deployed to California next week, U.S. Army Col. Rob Manning said in a statement. Authorities haven’t decided where to send the soldiers from the Tacoma, Washington-based 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion.
They will be outfitted with wildland protective gear, organized into 10 teams and led by experienced civilian firefighters. Personnel from the same base helped fight California wildfires last year.