United States park Yosemite partially closed as deadly fire rages

United States park Yosemite partially closed as deadly fire rages

Some of the most iconic areas of Yosemite National Park closed Wednesday because of a nearby deadly fire.

The Valley and Wawona closure will begin at noon Wednesday and will include all hotels, campgrounds and visitor services in those areas, officials said. Hotel guests got phone calls and notes on their doors.

The heart of Yosemite National Park remained empty the day after campers and hotel guests were evicted so firefighters could try to keep the state's largest fire from entering the park almost two weeks after it was sparked. More than 3,300 firefighters are working to contain the fire.

We have a lot of worldwide guests that have planned their route thru California to experience Yosemite National Park.

"Get yourself out of here if you can", Yosemite National Park Superintendent Michael Reynolds told evacuees, tourists, and park employees inside the Yosemite Valley Auditorium on Tuesday, The Fresno Bee reported.

The largest fire is a 7 ½-square mile (19-square kilometer) blaze in and around the San Bernardino National Forest that prompted mandatory evacuation orders for the entire town of Idyllwild and nearby communities.

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Much of Yosemite has been evacuated because of concerns over the more than 38,500-acre Ferguson Fire, which was just 25 percent contained as of Wednesday morning.

The fire was sending huge amounts of smoke into the Yosemite Valley.

The park is famed for its ancient sequoia trees and for Tunnel View, where visitors can see the towering Bridalveil Fall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. The fire was just 25 percent contained as of Tuesday.

Authorities ordered residents to leave Idyllwild and several neighboring communities, home to about 12,000 people. A firefighter was killed on July 14 when a bulldozer he was using to cut containment lines overturned, and seven others have been hurt. They have been advised by the park to "limit activity during periods of poor air quality", and warned that "some facilities and services are closed and diminished". Executive Director of the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau, Lisa Mayo, comments, "We know that visiting Yosemite is very special and for some visitors, this is their trip of a lifetime, so we are trying to do everything we can to give them the best experience possible under the circumstances".

Their planned three-day visit quickly turned into two as Yosemite Valley filled with smoke and ash. "Park visitors now staying in park campgrounds and lodging facilities are asked to be out of these areas by Noon tomorrow".

In the north, new evacuations were expanded to about 2,200 people in the wilderness recreation region east of Redding that included Shasta and its historic former courthouse and ruins of brick buildings that make up Shasta State Historic Park.

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