5,000 Acres in Yosemite National Park Scorched After Two Wildfires Devastate Area

by Amy Myers

Two more wildfires have spread across Yosemite National Park, claiming 5,000 acres of the parklands. According to officials, the cause of both the Red fire and Rodgers fire was a lightning strike.

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group reported that the fires began in early August. So far, the flames have yet to threaten any critical infrastructure or homes. However, the Red fire which has reached 3,558 acres, has caused several trail closures in Yosemite National Park near Mount Starr King and Mount Clark in the central region of the park. Meanwhile, the Rodgers fire, at 1,834 acres in the northern region of the park, has nearly doubled in size within the past five days. Both fires have made the air quality across the national park “mostly unhealthy,” according to Yosemite’s fire data.

“Smoke from the Red Fire will continue to settle in the Yosemite Valley during the overnight causing Very Unhealthy Air Quality Index (AQI) in the mornings for Yosemite Village, Curry Village, and other areas within the valley,” the Yosemite Fire and Aviation Management reported. “Smoke will cause period of Unhealthy AQI in Foresta and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG) AQI in El Portal each morning. An increase in smoke for southern Yosemite NP (Wawona) is possible beginning late Friday.”

Fire Crews Have Contained 10 Percent of Yosemite Fires

Firefighters and crews have been able to contain 10 percent of the fires. Even as the flames grow, though, the Red and Rodgers fires “remain within the fire management plan’s objectives and continue forest restoration,” according to Yosemite Fire and Aviation Management.

“They are clearing the forest of heavy fuel loads brought on by decades of fire suppression, long-term drought, and climate change — reducing the risk for catastrophic fires,” the department tweeted.

Along with the update, the department also shared quite a few photos and videos of the flames throughout the park.

Yosemite Fire Management Says National Park Air Quality Is Improving

While the fires have certainly affected the air quality of the national park, the Yosemite Fire and Aviation Management stated that as of yesterday, smoke conditions have improved.

According to the report, the national park will see “good air quality” by late afternoon or evening.

“Smoke this afternoon will be transported towards Bridgeport and Lee Vining areas, causing Moderate AQI during nighttime hours,” the department stated.

In order to ensure the safety of Yosemite’s visitors, the department suggested that visitors be more active outdoors within Yosemite Valley while air quality conditions improve. However, outdoor activity may be difficult for those sensitive to air conditions.

“Physical activity during heavy smoke can result in health effects, especially for sensitive groups (children, elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions),” the department warned.