100 Visitors Evacuated By Helicopter Following Wildfire At Yosemite National Park

More than 100 visitors to the Yosemite National Park had to be evacuated by helicopter on Sunday after a wildfire threatened their safety. The wildfire, which is believed to have started several weeks ago, has now grown to an area estimated to be 700 acres in size, reports ABC News. Many of the rescued people were climbers who were stranded atop the Yosemite National Park’s prime attraction – the iconic Half Dome Peak which has an elevation of 5,000 feet above the surrounding park area.

According to Kari Cobb, a spokeswoman at the Yosemite National Park, apart from the people trapped atop the half dome peak, several others were airlifted from camp grounds and hiking trails that dot the 750,000 acre park.

Meanwhile, firefighters are struggling to contain the fire which is believed to have originated several weeks ago. Several other spot fires that started after the main wildfire are also hampering firefighting operations at Yosemite. The initial fire is thought to be caused by to a lightning bolt that hit the park late last month. A spot fire that started Sunday followed by strong winds and a heat wave also added to the firefighters’ headache.

According to Tim Ludington, who works as the Yosemite’s chief of roads and trails, the behavior of the fire totally changed over the weekend.

“We just got unbelievable crazy winds and unexpected hot conditions. The fire behavior totally changed.”

While the park authorities have closed down several trains and regions within the Yosemite National Park, they have not closed off all roads that lead to the park

Meanwhile, firefighters have managed to find some success in controlling the fire that began around 15 miles southwest of the park, near the town of Mariposa. The fire, which initially threatened more than 700 homes and businesses in the town, has been bought under control. An evacuation order that was initially issued for the area has been lifted, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was a difficult job for the local firefighters to contain the blaze, owing to the steep terrain and dry conditions. One firefighter received a minor injury, and for some time hampered firefighting operations.

This is not the first time the Yosemite National Park has been hit by wildfire. In fact, it was in July that an inferno struck the park and destroyed an area more than 500 acres in size. Last year, there were several such forest fires that ravaged the Yosemite National Park.

[Images Via Wikimedia Commons]