Two Wildfires Still Burning in Yosemite National Park After Lightning Strikes

by Jon D. B.

Yosemite and local officials continue to battle wildfires in the national park’s Wilderness areas as the Red Fire and Rodgers Fire burn on.

Both fires were ignited by lighting two weeks ago and have yet to cease. Fire crews are currently managing each site, and Yosemite is notifying the public of air quality concerns.

“Two lightning ignited fires continue to burn in Yosemite’s Wilderness; the Red Fire (749 acres) and the Rodgers Fire (150 acres). Both are being managed by fire crews. Air quality may be affected in areas of the high country and in Yosemite Valley for the remainder of the week,” the park tweeted Monday.

As California continues to recover from the catastrophic Oak Fire outside Yosemite National Park, the two lightning-caused fires burn between Red Creek and Illilouette Creek. Both were discovered on August 4 at 7,800-foot elevation.

The Red Fire, initially around 50 acres, would triple in size within its first week to over 167 acres. Now burning at over 740 acres, Red Fire is taking a similar path to 2001’s far larger Hoover Fire. The unprecedented intensity of the Oak Fire on Yosemite’s border means the park is initiating intense measures to prevent further spread.

Red Fire

  • Location: between Red Creek and Illilouette Creek
  • Elevation: 7,800
  • Discover Date: August 4, 2022
  • Size: 749 acres
  • Cause: Lightning
  • Fire history: burning in the 2001 Hoover fire footprint
  • Yosemite fire crews are on scene. No current trail closures.

The second of the lightning-caused wildfires, the Rodgers Fire, burns northwest of Rodgers Canyon and southwest of Pleasant Valley. At 8,100 foot elevation, it is burning less intensely and smaller than Red Fire. It was initially mapped at 5 acres, but Yosemite National Park fire crews continue to monitor the flames with extreme caution as it now surpasses 150 acres.

Rodgers Fire

Location: northwest of Rodgers Canyon and southwest of Pleasant Valley
Elevation: 8,100
Discover Date: August 8, 2022
Size: 150 acres
Cause: Lightning
Yosemite fire crews are on scene. No current trail closures. 

No trail closures are in effect within the national park due to either fire, as they burn far out in the Yosemite Wilderness.

Wildfires are Key to the Future of Yosemite National Park

As with any ecosystem in wildfire-prone areas, these blazes are an integral part of environmental cycles (when not manmade). Recent climate change, however, has fires burning hotter and more intensely than at any time in known history. This has the fate of Yosemite – and the area’s giant sequoias – resting in the balance.

TOPSHOT – A forest is incinerated by the Oak Fire near Midpines, northeast of Mariposa, California, on July 23, 2022. – The California wildfire ripped through thousands of acres July 23 after being sparked a day earlier, as millions of Americans sweltered through scorching heat with already record-setting temperatures due to climb. (Photo by DAVID MCNEW / AFP) (Photo by DAVID MCNEW/AFP via Getty Images)

Fires like the Washburn Wildfire and Oak Fire (above) caused unprecedented damage throughout 2021 and 2022. But it was 2013’s Rim Fire that changed everything. At the time, it was the largest forest fire in California and Yosemite history. Over 400 square miles were burnt to the ground. Yet the unprecedented heat and fury of the fire took everything with it, leaving the ecosystem in dire straits.

Yosemite Officials point to this fire as the beginning of the modern “fire age” in which these “super wildfires” are becoming more and more common. Yosemite National Park now runs an even more meticulously-controlled fire program as a result. Their incredible efforts are proving key to the survival of the park for future generations, including ancient giant sequoias.

For more on integral elements of the beloved national park, see our Top 10 Things to Know About Yosemite National Park w/ PHOTOS next.