A growing wildfire in Yosemite National Park, about 1.5 miles east of Wawona, was at 1,613 acres Tuesday morning with additional crews set to arrive by the afternoon to work on controlling the blaze.
Scott Gediman, spokesman for the park, said about 150 people were assigned to the South Fork Fire alongside eight to 10 helicopters and air tankers. Numerous additional crews are on order through the South Central Sierra Incident Management Team, Gediman said, which would take over operations by the afternoon. Gediman said containment figures weren’t yet known, as crews are in the stages of initial attack after the fire began on Sunday.
He said the community of Wawona, estimated at around 1,000 to 2,000 people, was on pre-evacuation orders but the area wasn’t under immediate threat. Wawona Hotel, now known as Big Trees Lodge, was not under threat, Gediman said.
Air attack and ground crews have been at regular work on the inferno, with air drops a common sight, Gediman said. He said a cause hasn’t yet been determined, but some reports indicate it may have been due to lightning strikes.
Smoky conditions can be expected in the areas of El Capitan, Yosemite High Sierra, and in canyons west of Wawona out to Mariposa, and along Highway 140 from El Portal, Gediman said. Chilnualna Falls trail is closed at its bottom end. No road closures are in place, and the park can still be entered from both Highway 41 and Highway 140.
South Fork Fire details
Incident Type: Wildfire
Date of Origin: Sunday Aug. 13, 2017, approx. 2:30 a.m.
Location: 1.5 miles east of the community of Wawona
Incident Commander: Jeff Pirog
Incident Description: Suppression
Fuels Involved: Timber (Litter and Understory) Brush (2 feet)
Significant Events: Group tree torching, Uphill Runs, Short-Range Spotting
Planned Actions: Continue to utilize air resources and tie fire into natural barriers. Assess need for trail closures.
Projected Incident Activity:
☆ 12 hours: Continue to aggressively suppress fire spread toward community of Wawona on west flank of fire. Camp Wawona and homes on Chilnualna Falls Ridge, voluntary evacuation.
☆ 24 hours: Prepare community for potential evacuations.
☆ 48 hours: Direct line construction on west edge of fire and actively monitor potential spread to avoid fire getting south of the South Fork of the Merced river. Aggressively suppress any spot fires in that area.
☆ 72 hours: Secure south edge of the fire and keep contained to South fork of Merced, secure west flank.
☆ Priority is protection of life and property of Wawona and Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.