Two fires located in Yosemite National Park, one that previously threatened the community of Wawona, have shown minimal activity into Monday and, barring any changes given oncoming thunderstorms, are being considered a minimal risk, officials said.
Glacier Point Road was scheduled to reopen Tuesday, Sept. 5, they added, should favorable conditions continue. The road was closed Aug. 29.
The South Fork Fire, which began Aug. 13 about a mile east of Wawona, was at 6,804 acres and was 47% contained, officials said in a morning update. Fire activity remains quiet near the community that holds around 1,000-2,000 people at any given time, officials said, with most activity out to the east where firefighters wish for it to burn.
Crews held the fire’s spread along Chilnualna Creek to the north, and would continue securing that line Monday, they said. Fifty personnel were assigned to the fire.
Patrols continue along portions of the blaze closest to Wawona, which remains open to activity despite the growing Railroad Fire burning south in the Fish Camp and Cedar Valley areas.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The Empire Fire, located near Glacier Point Road to the north of the South Fork Fire, started from a lightning strike July 31, officials said, and was discovered a day later. It was at 4,914 acres Monday and 55% contained.
Officials said fire crews were implementing a perimeter control strategy to protect Bridalveil Campground, Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area (formerly Badger Pass), the Yosemite West subdivision, and Wawona Road (Highway 41).
The east flank of the Empire Fire is being allowed to burn naturally to strengthen the forest ecosystem, officials said.
A third fire, the Starr King fire located far northwest of both blazes and east of Yosemite Valley, was at 32.4 acres Monday.
The weather was expected to cool over the week, which could assist in firefighting efforts, officials said. There was a “slight chance” of thunderstorms over the afternoon period Monday and following days, they said. The storms can cause gusty and erratic winds, which have made firefighting efforts difficult on the Railroad Fire.
Highway 41 remained closed in the Cedar Valley area north of Oakhurst Monday due to the Railroad Fire. All other entrances to Yosemite are open, as are the locations within Wawona such as the Wawona Golf Course and Big Trees Lodge (formerly Wawona Hotel).
Smoky conditions may still exist in the park due to several fires burning in Eastern Madera County and Mariposa County, as well as the three fires in Yosemite, officials said. Those with sensitivity to smoke are advised to consult with their physician, or stay inside with closed windows.
For a full list of campground and trail closures in place due to the South Fork Fire, click here.
For information on the park, dial (209) 372-0200 or visit https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm.