Two Lighting-Caused Fires Are Currently Burning in Yosemite National Park

by Jon D. B.

As the catastrophic Oak Fire comes to a close, lightning has caused two wildfires within Yosemite National Park borders.

The first lightning wildfire, Red Fire, currently burns between Red Creek and Illilouette Creek. Discovered on August 4 at 7,800 foot elevation, Red Fire was mapped at around 50 acres. It has already tripled in size this week, however, and fire crews are on the scene.

Red Fire now burns at over 167 acres. As it does, it chars a path within the footprint of 2001’s Hoover Fire. After the unprecedented intensity of the Oak Fire on Yosemite National Park’s border, Red Fire will need to be monitored with extreme caution.

Red Fire

  • Location: between Red Creek and Illilouette Creek
  • Elevation: 7,800
  • Discover Date: August 4, 2022
  • Size: 50 acres (updated to 167 acres on the evening of August 12)
  • Cause: Lightning
  • Fire history: burning in the 2001 Hoover fire footprint
  • Yosemite fire crews are on scene. No current trail closures.

Thankfully, the second lightning-caused wildfire to strike is far smaller. Discovered on August 8, 2022, the Rodgers Fire burns northwest of Rodgers Canyon and southwest of Pleasant Valley at 8,100 foot elevation. It was last mapped at 5 acres, and Yosemite National Park fire crews continue to monitor the flames. There are no current trail closures in the park due to either fire.

Rodgers Fire

Location: northwest of Rodgers Canyon and southwest of Pleasant Valley
Elevation: 8,100
Discover Date: August 8, 2022
Size: 5 acres
Cause: Lightning
Yosemite fire crews are on scene. No current trail closures. 

It’s Been a Devastating Wildfire Season for Yosemite National Park

Over the last several weeks, California’s Oak Fire forced more than 3,000 people to evacuate. The Sierra Nevada blaze spread to over 17,000 acres in just a matter of days, leading to an “unprecedented” wildfire.

“The fire behavior that we’re seeing on this incident is really unprecedented. It’s moving extremely fast, and the reaction time to get people out is limited,” California Fire battalion chief, Jon Heggie, told CNN in late July as the fire exploded in size outside Yosemite.

Photo by NIC COURY/AFP via Getty Images

The devastation of Oak Fire came on the heels of the national park’s own Washburn Fire. Residents of the Wawona community left their homes behind as the fire began to spread in south Yosemite. Mariposa Grove’s giant sequoia trees came under threat by the fire, too, as it spread past 1,500 acres in the first few days.

It took hundreds of firefighters and incredible ingenuity to stop the wildfire from claiming residents, including these ancient giants. Finally, the Wawona area would reopen to all as July – and the fire – came to a close.

Yosemite National Park will continue to monitor the Red and Rodgers Fires as we all hope for the best.