500+ Firefighters Battle Yosemite National Park Wildfire Amid Closures

by Amy Myers
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As the wildfire continues to spread through Yosemite National Park, more than 500 firefighters have rushed to the scene to help protect the giant sequoias as well as surrounding wildlife and visitors.

As of Monday, the flames had claimed roughly 2,340 acres of the park, up from just 250 acres last Friday. With how quickly the wildfire is expanding across Yosemite National Park, it’s no wonder the park has called for so many hands at the boundary. The focus has been primarily on the Mariposa Grove in the southernmost region, which is home to the park’s largest grove of giant sequoias. Within the hundreds of these giant trees, two are among the 30 largest sequoias in the world. Needless to say, the race to ensure the preservation of this area is vital to our nation’s natural history.

Already, firefighters have placed a sprinkler system within the grove to keep the sequoias moist, therefore internally extinguishing the wildfire. Unfortunately, though, even with 545 firefighters and other personnel on sight, progress still isn’t where they hoped it would be.

Yosemite Firefighters Fight Wildfire Flames from Inside, Out

According to recent reports, the area where these brave men and women are stationed is prone to burning. With lots of brush and dry shrubbery, it’s hard to control a fire once it has reached this part of the park. In fact, officials have even conducted prescribed burning to help curb any future flames. As we’ve now seen, though, this foresight seemed to only minimally help firefighters.

Even more alarming is the fact that national park officials fear that the Yosemite wildfire is a result of “human-caused” climate change. Between 2015 and 2021, 85 percent of all of the country’s giant sequoia groves fell victim to the flames.

“Every single one of our national parks is suffering from the effects of climate change, from record-breaking wildfires and droughts to rising sea levels and the destruction of cultural resources,” wrote Stephanie Kodish, the director of the climate change program at the National Parks Conservation Association, in a blog post in June.

Yosemite National Park Closes South Entrance, Keeps West Entrance Open

Since the start of the wildfire, Yosemite rangers have evacuated more than 1,600 visitors out of high-risk areas. They have also officially closed the southern entrance.

“Evacuation of the Wawona community and Wawona Campground remain in place,” the park informed on Saturday. The Wawona Road (Highway 41) is closed at South Entrance to Henness Ridge Road. Yosemite West remains accessible via Wawona Road from the north (from Yosemite Valley).”

However, enthusiasts can still enjoy the park’s western attractions, including Yosemite Valley.

“Yosemite West remains accessible via Wawona Road from the north (from Yosemite Valley),” the park stated.

Currently, visitors may experience wait times of up to two hours at the entrance gate. Air quality and smoke may also pose a problem.

Outsider.com