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article imageWildfires near Sequoia, Yosemite National Parks continue to grow

By Karen Graham     Jul 23, 2018 in Environment
El Portal - A raging wildfire just outside of Yosemite National Park is evading the efforts of thousands of firefighters as it burns through dry brush and rugged terrain, growing daily and heading toward populated areas.
The raging California wildfire that killed a firefighter last weekend is still spreading, moving closer to the Northwestern portion of Yosemite National Park. Called the Ferguson Fire, it has jumped a major road and has now spread into the Stanislaus National Forest and is burning toward the north, according to SFGate.
“There’s been no history of fires there in the last 100 years,” said Jim Mackensen, a fire spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. “If we can’t catch it, it could work its way toward the Highway 120 corridor. It’s threatening a lot more turf.”
The fire has been burning in and around the Merced River Canyon since July 13. Besides the one firefighter who was killed last Saturday when his bulldozer rolled over, there have been four firefighters injured while fighting the blaze. The fire has closed Highway 140, one of three main routes into Yosemite.
The fire has forced the evacuation of several rural communities, including the Mariposa County communities of El Portal and Yosemite West, home to many park employees and visitors. To date, no structures have been destroyed by the fire but fire officials say 216 are threatened.
Deputy Chief Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Yosemite remains open, but one of its scenic routes, Glacier Point Road, was closed so it could be used as a staging area for firefighters, according to Fire Engineering.
As of Sunday evening, the Ferguson Fire was only 7 percent contained and had grown to 30,493 acres (12,340 hectares). Flames have charred about 42 square miles (110 square kilometers) of timber.
This is an image from one of the NPS webcams. You can see how thick the smoke is. This image is fro ...
This is an image from one of the NPS webcams. You can see how thick the smoke is. This image is fro July 21, 2018. View of the Merced River Canyon, looking west from Yosemite Turtleback Dome, at 5,266 feet (1605 m) above sea level, toward the Central Valley.
National Park Service
Fire officials say 2,903 firefighters are battling the blaze with 204 engines, 38 water trucks, 17 helicopters and 42 bulldozers. On Sunday, about a dozen planes were expected to join in battling the blaze, dropping water and fire retardant. Weather conditions that reduced visibility has limited aircraft operations the past couple of days, said Rich Eagan, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
As California continues to be hit with sweltering heat, little or no rain and erratic winds, other wildfires are burning or smoldering around the state. The National Weather Service has warned that an extended period of high heat was brewing for a large swath of the state.
Excessive-heat watches and warnings were to go into effect early next week across Southern California and throughout the Central Valley as high pressure strengthened over the Southwest states, the weather service said, reports ABC affiliate WFTV9.
More about Wildfire, california drought, yosemite national park, Evacuations, stanislaus national forest