Two fires in Yosemite National Park, located near the Wawona area and further north, are forcing smoky conditions both in the park and in surrounding areas like Oakhurst, though both blazes are being well monitored by firefighters.
The South Fork Fire, located about a mile east of Wawona and near the South Fork of the Merced River, continued its slow growth into Friday, reaching 4,330 acres and is 44% contained.
More than 300 firefighting personnel will spend the day primarily on the blaze’s most active area, officials said, near the area of Crescent Creek on its eastern flank, away from Wawona.
The fire started Aug. 13, and forced evacuations of the area Aug. 19 as it grew closer to the community and the 1,000-2,000 people estimated in the area. Those evacuations were completely lifted Thursday, though trails in the fire’s area remain closed.
As part of those lifted orders, the Big Trees Lodge (formerly known as Wawona Hotel), Hill Studio Visitor Center, Wawona Campground, and Bridalveil Creek Campground were all open by Friday, officials said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation
To the north, the Empire Fire, which began July 31, was estimated at 2,013 acres. Because it is in a fire-adapted wilderness area near Glacier Point Road, crews have allowed it to burn naturally, officials said, which creates healthier ecosystems.
Though signs were positive in regards to both fires, smoky conditions remain a regular sight both in and around Yosemite, causing poor air quality, officials said.
In the park, areas like Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and El Capitan have remained smoky for days. Outside Yosemite, Fish Camp, Oakhurst, and Mariposa have also felt the hazy effects, especially in the early morning and evening hours.
Those with sensitivity to smoky conditions are advised to consult with their physicians, and remain inside with the windows closed.
Despite the smoggy skies, Yosemite can still be entered and enjoyed from all roads, including Highway 41, officials said.
For more information on the South Fork Fire, dial (209) 379-1493, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5502/, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.