Yosemite National Park Announces Wawona Will Reopen July 28

by Amy Myers

Since the Washburn Fire began in Yosemite National Park, residents of the Wawona community have had to leave their homes behind. Now, three weeks later, the community will reopen for both locals and visitors.

On July 7, the fire began to spread near the southernmost portion of Yosemite National Park. The flames came dangerously close to Mariposa Grove, home to the largest collection of giant sequoias.

Within a few days, the fire spread to over 1,500 acres, and firefighters struggled to gain any containment of the flames. Slowly, though, they began to douse the flames. Meanwhile, teams worked diligently to prep the area around the sequoia grove by removing dry brush and adding internal sprinklers so that it would not fall victim to flames.

The latest update states that the fire is now at 91% containment and has reached 4,881 acres.

Now that crews have successfully gained control of the Yosemite National Park fire, they feel comfortable reopening Wawona tomorrow, July 28 at noon.

On Monday, authorities also lifted the fire advisory for the wilderness area of Wawona. They are waiting to open the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and the Wawona Campground until crews completely contain the wildfire. All other areas of Yosemite National Park will remain open. However, visitors will need a vehicle reservation between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Precipitation Is Helping Crews Contain Yosemite National Park Wildfire

Just as dry and windy conditions can fuel the flames of a wildfire, humidity and precipitation can help extinguish them and keep embers from reigniting. Thankfully, Yosemite National Park and the surrounding areas have been experiencing much more moisture in the air.

“Monsoonal moisture began to increase across the region yesterday afternoon with cumulus buildup visible to the east of the Washburn fire over the Sierra Crest,” InciWeb reported on July 26. “Moisture will increase again today with thunderstorm activity becoming more widespread. The clouds and moisture will help keep temperatures a few degrees cooler with highs in the mid-80s and humidity values around 25%. These conditions are an improvement from the recent persistent hot and dry weather pattern and will assist fire crews in increasing containment of the fire in the coming days.”

The cause of the Washburn Fire remains under investigation, though officials are leaning towards human-related causes. According to Cal Fire, roughly 95% of fires are a result of human activity. The usual culprits tend to be yard equipment, campfires, vehicles and piles of debris.

“Whether it’s ensuring a campfire or landscape debris burn of leaves and branches is completely extinguished, or keeping a vehicle well maintained to prevent sparks, following just a few simple steps can help prevent wildfires,” the organization stated.