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 ahead before the fire is out, including 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 881 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, but Glacier Point is not. Use extreme caution while driving, as firefighters are still working in the area.
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The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued an Air Quality Alert starting on July 25, 2018 for Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Tulare, and central through eastern Fresno, Kings and Kern counties due to smoke impacts from the Ferguson and Lions Fires. This Air Quality Alert is in effect until the fires are extinguished.
Yosemite National Park Campfire Restrictions
All entrances to Yosemite National Park are open except for Wawona Road. Highways 120 and 140 are fully open. Highway 41 (Wawona Road) is closed to the public between Yosemite West and the Wawona Tunnel (open to residents, contractors, and those with reservations only). Glacier Point Road remains closed, along with the Bridalveil Creek Campground.
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.
|Current as of|
|Date of Origin||Friday July 13th, 2018 approx. 08:30 PM|
|Location||Highway 140 and Savages Trading Post|
|Incident Commander||Mike Strawhun, Southern Sierra California Interagency Incident Mgmt Team|
|Coordinates||37.652 latitude, -119.881 longitude|
|Percent of Perimeter Contained||100%|
|Estimated Containment Date||Wednesday August 22nd, 2018 approx. 12:00 AM|
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.
Fire has worked its way down to control lines in all areas.
The fire has burned to control lines in Divisions D. The fire east of El Portal and north of Highway 140 continues to be in patrol status.
Crews continue to monitor the fire along FS Road 2S20.
Resources are addressing hazard trees along all roads and containment lines, while monitoring and securing the fire area.
|Projected Incident Activity|
Suppression repair continues throughout all divisions.
Portions of Yosemite National Park remain closed until hazard tree removal is completed.
Fire suppression operations are being conducted under a joint delegation of authority from the Sierra National Forest, Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest.
Burning within the interior of the fire will continue to produce unhealthy conditions that will impact Yosemite National Park and mountain communities down-drainage to the west.
The incident base for the Ferguson Fire is at the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park. An additional spike camp has been established at Badger Pass.
Suppression Repair Progress -
Completed Line: 68 miles (28%)
In Progress: 42 miles (14%)
Need Repair: 180 miles (63%)
Total: 290 miles
Dry weather and light terrain driven winds can be
expected through this week, as a high pressure ridge continues over the burn area.
Humidities will continue to experience poor overnight recovery through Tuesday, then becoming better by Wednesday as onshore flow sets up and temperatures lower closer to average. Dry conditions will continue for much of next week.
Eye level winds ... variable up to 4 mph until 10 AM becoming southwest 3-6 mph. Becoming west 6-10 mph with gusts around 15 mph by 2 PM.
Surrounding ridge... Southeast 3-5 mph in the morning, becoming southwest 6-12 mph with gusts around 18 mph by the afternoon.