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Ferguson Fire

Unit Information

Sierra National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
1600 Tollhouse Road
Clovis, CA 93611

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This incident is no longer being updated.

heavy equipment used to remove downed trees and create fuel breakImage options: [ Full Size ]


The Ferguson Fire started on Friday night, July 13 at 9:36 PM in the South Fork Merced River drainage on Sierra National Forest. In the steep, rugged terrain, with scarcely any road access and a heavy presence of beetle-killed trees, firefighters knew it would be more than a challenge to contain.

In the first 24 hours, it had grown to 828 acres, as management of the fire was taken over by the Southern Central Sierra Interagency Management Team Type 2 and an incident command post was set up at Ahawahnee Hills Regional Park near Oakhurst, California. Under unified command between the U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire, and the Mariposa County Sheriff, the community of Jerseydale among others were evacuated. Also on the second day of the fire, heavy equipment operator Braden Varney from the Cal Fire Madera-Mariposa-Merced unit was tragically killed in a bulldozer rollover accident while constructing line in a steep canyon.

One week later, management of the fire transitioned on July 19 to a Type 1 team, California Interagency Incident Management Team 4. Yosemite National Park joined the Forest Service, Cal Fire, and the Sheriff under unified command. On July 20, the communities of Old El Portal, Rancheria Flat, Foresta, and Yosemite View Lodge were put under mandatory evacuation. The following day, Yosemite West and Anderson Valley area were evacuated.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Congressman Tom McClintock, CA-4 (R) paid a visit on July 21 to express their support.

Old Yosemite Road was evacuated on July 22. Some specific areas within the communities surrounding the fire started to be allowed to return to their homes, and others continued to be evacuated. From July 24 to 31, many communities and subdivisions including Mariposa Pines, Jerseydale, Ponderosa Basin, Lushmeadows, and others were advised of mandatory evacuations and repopulations.

A memorial service for Braden Varney was held on July 23 in Modesto, California.

By July 28, the fire grew to 42,017 acres, and the following day another horrible tragedy happened: Captain Brian Hughes of the Arrowhead Hotshots from Sequoia & Kings National Parks was struck by a snag tree and killed. A memorial service was held for Brian Hughes on August 4, 2018 in Fresno, California.

Firefighters completed firing operations from Henness Ridge to the Merced River on the Sierra National Forest on July 27, and steadily made progress on containment lines. The fire weather transitioned from moderate to extreme pushing the flame front across Glacier Point Road and closed all access to Badger Pass. Wawona was evacuated on August 1, while El Portal was repopulated on August 2. On August 3 the residents of Yosemite Valley were evacuated and the Park Service closed it to the public due to multiple hazards from firefighters working in the area. The Highway 140 corridor was also closed that day.

Fire crews at the Badger Pass camp sheltered in place on August 4, as extreme fire behavior continued.

On August 5, the National Park Service closed Yosemite National Park indefinitely. Firefighters conducted strategic firing operations off the Foresta and Big Oak Flat roads, keeping the fire from spreading into the community of Foresta and access to and from Badger was restored.

As the new week began on August 6, the weather moderated which gave firefighters the opportunity to reinforce containment lines, mop-up hot spots, and complete firing operations along Wawona Road. Along the southern portions of Wawona Road, firing operations continued south of Chinquapin to prevent it from entering further into Yosemite National Park. Air inversions lessened, which allowed large interior islands to burn off quickly. Wawona residents were now safe to return to their homes, however several road closures continued due to road hazards.

The residents of Yosemite West were allowed to return on August 7. By now, most of the residents were allowed to return to their homes, and those living in Yosemite Valley were the last to return. Throughout this fire, firefighters worked diligently night and day to achieve containment objectives without compromising safety and getting residents back into their homes as quickly as possible.

The closure of Yosemite National Park had a local and global impact on those who had planned to visit during the active life of the fire. Economically, businesses were impacted in the gateway communities who depend on the summer tourist season to sustain them throughout the year. The impacts of smoke in the Yosemite Valley, Merced Grove, and other areas will continue to impact those who live and visit the Sierra National Forest, Stanlislaus National Forest, and Yosemite National Park.

Several community meetings were held for the residents of Mariposa, El Portal, Wawona, Groveland, Yosemite Valley, and Oakhurst during the most active times of the fire. Ferguson fire public information staff provided information at farmers markets, CASA street fair in Mariposa, and presented at a well-known climber's seminar in Groveland.

There is a lot of work during post-fire rehabilitation to curtail erosion and other devastating effects to natural resources from fire suppression efforts. Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams have started surveying burned areas to determine methods of erosion control measures.

Full containment was expected on Wednesday, August 22, however on Saturday evening, August 18, the fire was 100% contained. Interior parts of the forest will continue to smolder and burn for some time, causing lingering smoke.

The Ferguson Fire is now at 96,901 acres with 100% containment and 352 personnel currently engaged on the fire. During the most critical time in the fire, over 3,000 people were assigned to the incident from all over the world. There have been 2 fatalities and 19 injuries. 10 structures have been destroyed.

Yosemite Valley opened to visitors on August 14 at 9:00 AM. Wawona and Mariposa grove are open. Use extreme caution while driving, as firefighters are still working in the area.

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Fire History Map




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Yosemite National Park Campfire Restrictions

All entrances to Yosemite National Park are open. Highways 41, 120 and 140 are fully open. Glacier Point Road opened at 8:00AM on August 30th, Bridalveil Creek Campground remains closed for the season.

Forest Order 16-2018-7 identifies an area of Groveland Ranger District from Ferguson Ridge in the south to Pilot Ridge in the north that is closed to public access.

COOPERATORS: California Highway Patrol, CalTrans, Pacific Gas and Electric, California Conservation Corps, Mariposa County Sheriff, Mariposa County Public Works, American Red Cross, California OES, California Department of Corrections, Central California Animal Disaster Team, Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office, Madera County Sheriff's Department, North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, Sierra Telephone, Hetch Hetchy Water & Power, Yosemite Mountain Ranch and San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginFriday July 13th, 2018 approx. 08:30 PM
LocationHighway 140 and Savages Trading Post
Incident CommanderMark Smith Incident Commander, Logan Sanders IC trainee Sierra National Forest
Coordinates37.652 latitude, -119.881 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel225
Size96,901 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained100%
Fuels Involved

Chaparral, Short grass and Timber.

With the absence of recent fire there is an abundance of dead material within the live crown of the brush component surrounding the fire area.

There is also a significant amount of bug kill timber adjacent to the fire area. South slope in the lower elevations of the Merced River and adjacent tributaries consist of light flashy fuels.

Significant Events

Fire equipment is working in the Anderson Flat area.

A chipping operation is ongoing in the Wawona area.

Glacier Point Road is now open as of 8:AM Thursday August 30th.


Planned Actions

The fire east of El Portal and north of Highway 140 continues to be in patrol status.

Resources are addressing hazard trees along all roads and containment lines, while patrolling the fire area.

Projected Incident Activity

Suppression repair continues throughout all divisions.


Smoke and some burning within the interior of the fire will continue to produce smoke.

The incident base for the Ferguson Fire is located at the Batterson Station in Oakhurst.

Suppression Repair Progress - newly revised to 247 miles due to better mapping.

Completed Line: 145 miles (59%)

In Progress: 21 miles (8%)

Need Repair: 81 miles (33%)

Total: 247 miles

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

For Sept. 2nd- 4th

A dry northwest flow aloft will prevail over the fire area for the next several days. Little day to day change in relative humidity or temperature trends is expected with slope driven diurnal winds prevailing.

Sunny and clear with daytime temperatures ranging from 78-83 degrees.

Minimum relative humidities ranging 26-32%.

Daytime: eye level winds ...

Sunday and Monday, Northwest winds 2-5 MPH in the morning shifting to west 3-8 MPH in the afternoon.

Tuesday Sept 4th winds from the north around 5 MPH.

Surrounding ridge...Sunday: Southwest 4-7 MPH. Monday: Westerly 5-8 MPH.

Transport winds... Sunday: Westerly about 6 MPH. Monday: Northwesterly about 6 MPH.