Yosemite Valley Will Reopen Next Week as Deadly Ferguson Fire Reaches 80% Containment

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Crews battle the Ferguson Fire that forced the closure of parts of Yosemite National Park overnight on Aug. 9, 2018. (Credit: Stuart Palley / U.S. Forest Service)

Crews battle the Ferguson Fire that forced the closure of parts of Yosemite National Park overnight on Aug. 9, 2018. (Credit: Stuart Palley / U.S. Forest Service)

The Yosemite Valley and other parts of the iconic national park will reopen to visitors next week as firefighters continue to gain the upper hand on the massive Ferguson Fire, officials announced Friday.

Several of the park’s most popular areas — including Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, Wawona and Hetch Hetchy, along with the valley floor — were shuttered July 25 as the deadly inferno raged out of control.

But nearly 30 days into the battle, the flames have reached 80 percent containment, and most of the park will reopen on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 9 a.m.

The Mariposa Grove — which had reopened in June after a three-year restoration project — will be open starting Monday. However, Hetch Hetchy will stay closed until further notice due to heavy smoke in the valley.

The park’s webcams have shown its famous scenery shrouded in haze since late July, a time of the year when it’s usually packed with visitors.

Highway 41 — along which the fire was burning — and Glacier Point Road would also remain closed for at least another week, officials said in a news release.

“Park visitors should be aware that there is still active fire and smoke on the roads and people should drive with extreme caution,” the release states. “Delays on the roads are possible due to fire activity and ongoing firefighter operations.”

Some services and hours at park facilities may also be limited until “normal operations” are resumed, officials said.

Since it broke out July 13, the fire has scorched more than 95,500 acres, or nearly 150 square miles, making it the largest ever recorded in the Sierra National Forest. But the U.S. Forest Service said its objective is to keep the flames from reaching Yosemite Valley.

The blaze also claimed the lives of two Cal Fire personnel: heavy equipment operator Braden Varney and Capt. Brian Hughes of the Arrowhead Interagency Hotshots. Varney was operating a bulldozer that rolled over, while Hughes was struck by a fallen tree.

Another 15 people have been injured in the blaze, which has also destroyed 10 structures.

More than 1,500 fire personnel were engaged in the fight on Friday, battling the flames in steep, rugged terrain.

Those traveling to the park can get updates on road and weather conditions 24 hours a day by calling 209-372-0200, pressing 1 and pressing 1 again. The information can also be found on the park’s website.

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