California State Route 41 in Yosemite is closed at Tenaya Lodge in the north and Cedar Valley Road in the south due to a new fire in the Sierra National Forest that broke out at approximately 12:20 p.m. At 12:53 p.m., the fire was about 50 feet from the road near the Sugar Pine Railroad. Drivers can’t take Highway 41 into Yosemite. The National Park Service recommends taking Highway 49 from Oakhurst to Mariposa, and then entering Yosemite through Highway 140.
CAL FIRE Air Attack reported that the blaze had consumed about 30 to 40 acres and was moving east at about 12:58 p.m. The fire is being called the #railroadfire by Yosemite Fire Management. It has the potential to burn several thousand acres, according to Sierra News Online.
The main areas threatened by the new fire are Sugar Pine and Sugar Pine Camp. Tenaya Lodge and Fish Camp have been ordered to evacuate at approximately 2:45 p.m. according to the Sierra Star. Sierra News Online reports that an evacuation center is being set up at the Oakhurst Community Center which was scheduled to open at approximately 3 p.m. The fire expanded from its initial 30 to 40 acres to approximately 300 acres due to high temperatures. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The fire expanded from its initial 30 to 40 acres to approximately 300 acres in about an hour due to high temperatures. Air resources have been diverted from two other fires that Yosemite Fire has been battling: the South Fork and Empire fires.
The South Fork fire, which started August 13 near Wawona, has consumed over 4,000 acres according to Yosemite Fire Management. It was about 40 percent contained as of Monday, according to the Sierra Star. The Empire fire, which started after a lightning strike on July 31, has burned over 2,000 acres. The Empire blaze is being allowed to burn naturally because of its fire-adapted location. The July Detwiler fire near the park burned 127 square miles, including 63 homes, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Popular locations in Yosemite National Park including Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, and El Capitan have experienced smoke since early August.
A heat wave throughout the Western states is contributing to the wildfires this season. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for Central and Southern California, which includes Yosemite and the Sierras.
[Featured Image by inciweb.nwcg.gov/AP Images]