Authorities have made a decision to close certain areas of Yosemite National Park as a massive wildfire continues to rage nearby.
One of the most popular national parks in the United States announced its imminent partial closure on Tuesday as thick plumes of smoke drifted from a deadly wildfire raging in central California. A video camera inside the park Tuesday showed dark skies and black clouds pushing through trees and open spaces.
Record temperatures in Southern California helped drive a fast-moving blaze towards mountain resort communities around 90 miles (145 kms) east of Los Angeles in the San Jacinto Mountains.
At least 1,000 campground and hotel bookings were canceled - to say nothing of the impact on day visitors, park workers and small businesses along the highway, Gediman said.
That fire, about 150 miles (240 km) north of Sacramento, had blackened 20,000 acres (8,100 hectares) as of Thursday, three times its size a day earlier.
As smoke from a nearby wildfire pours into Yosemite Valley, Tom Lambert has had to tell tourists who booked his vacation home months in advance that they would have to defer their dream stays so firefighters could take protective measures against the growing blaze.
In the north, new evacuations were expanded to about 2,200 people in the wilderness recreation region near Redding that included Shasta and its historic former courthouse and ruins of brick buildings that make up Shasta State Historic Park.
Fire crews from all over the state are going to be back burning and setting up fire breaks along Highway 41 as the Ferguson Fire moves closer to homes near Yosemite West. Visitors are left wondering what to do now.
The gates of Yosemite National Park, typically abuzz with activity during the summer, were eerily quiet Wednesday.
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.
Vishal says while he understands it for safety reasons, the closure is still disappointing.
The last time the 7.5-mile-long (12-kilometer-long) valley was closed because of fire was 1990, he said.
Over almost two weeks, flames have churned through 60 square miles (38,522 acres) of timber in steep terrain of the Sierra Nevada just west of the park in Mariposa County. The glacial valley has been enveloped by a choking haze of smoke from the Ferguson Fire.
Mandatory evacuations are in place in several communities while others have been told to get ready to leave if necessary. On July 14, a firefighter was killed while six others have been reported as injured since the blaze began.
A total of 3,821 personnel have joined the battle to stop the Ferguson Fire, along with 361 fire engines, 55 water tenders and 55 helicopters.