Wildfire near Yosemite National Park rages on

The El Portal Fire near Yosemite National Park sends smoke billowing into the air Sunday, July 27, 2014. (Yosemite National Park Facebook page)

A large wildfire burning on the edge of Yosemite National Park, near the community of El Portal, has now destroyed at least one structure. Residents are on edge as crews try to stop the flames from spreading.

The El Portal Fire has burned more than 2,600 acres and is at zero containment, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Ninety percent of the acres that have burned are in the Stanislaus National Forest, but some areas in and around Yosemite have been evacuated, officials said.

At least 600 firefighters are battling flames during the driest year on record in Yosemite. Add that to the steep rocky terrains and over 100 degree temperatures and these guys are looking at an uphill battle.

"Our biggest concern is the protection of people and structures, and that's what we're focusing on right now, and we'll assess the burn area when it's over," said Scott Gediman, Yosemite's public affairs officer.

Gediman says the fire started in the late afternoon Saturday. There is no word yet on what sparked the fire, but it's burning in an area that is still recovering from another fire in 2009.

"Our focus is purely on initial attack, and we are 100 percent committed to suppressing this fire as quickly as possible," said Gediman.

Families in the small community of Foresta had less than an hour's notice to pack up and evacuate. At least 40 homes in Foresta and 60 homes in El Portal have been evacuated to American Red Cross shelters.

The resource center at Tenaya Lodge is scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. Monday.

Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) is currently closed from the El Portal Road (Highway 140) junction to the junction with Tioga Road at Crane Flat because of the fire. Drivers can still get to Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point and the Wawona and Mariposa Grove areas from Highways 140 and 41. The Crane Flat, Bridalveil Creek and Yosemite Creek campgrounds are also temporarily closed.


Related Topics:
firewildfireevacuationmariposa countyMariposaYosemite National Park
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