South Fork Fire closes campgrounds, trails in Yosemite

Submitted photo

A growing blaze in Yosemite National Park, near the community of Wawona, has forced the closure of multiple campgrounds and periodic closures of one of the park’s well-traveled roads.

The South Fork Fire, which began early Sunday, grew to 2,296 acres with 5% contained Wednesday afternoon.

Located about a mile east of Wawona, more than 250 personnel, alongside at least 10 aircraft and numerous engines are at work to control the flames.

Officials said the fireline is holding north of South Fork and east of Chilnualna Creek.

On Wednesday, park officials announced the following closures as a result of the blaze:

Wawona Campground

Bridalveil Creek Campground

Big Trees Golf Course

Along with those closures, officials said Wawona trail and/or mule rides, are not operating, and the Badger Pass to Glacier Point shuttle will not run until further notice as the main base for firefighting operations has been established at Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area.

Glacier Point Road will remain open to the public, however, there will be periodic closures between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day as the parking lot fills to capacity. Delays can be expected.

The park can still be entered from all entrances, including along Highway 41 and Highway 140. Its cause is under investigation.

Smoky conditions can be expected from both the South Fork Fire and the Empire Fire in the park, which is burning further to the north. That fire, started by a lightning strike, is located about a mile south of Bridalveil Campground east of Alder Creek drainage, officials said. It was reported Wednesday at 1,400 acres, and is being allowed to burn naturally with no threats to structures or community areas.

Affected smoky areas include around El Capitan, Yosemite High Sierra, and in canyons west of Wawona out to Mariposa, and along Highway 140 from El Portal. Chilnualna Falls trail is also closed at its bottom end. For updating air quality conditions, click here.

The community of Wawona, estimated to have around 1,000 to 2,000 people, remains under pre-evacuation advisory. Big Trees Lodge (formerly known as Wawona Hotel), is not under immediate threat, officials said.

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/yose/blogs/fireinfo.htm.