News Column

Yosemite Fire Forces Evacuations

July 28, 2014

Carmen George and Rory Appleton, The Fresno Bee

July 27--A wildfire has burned between 300 and 500 acres near Foresta in Yosemite National Park on Saturday afternoon and caused mandatory evacuations for the community of Foresta, said park spokeswoman Kari Cobb.

It started mid-afternoon and was moving northeast and uphill, towards Foresta's big meadow, Cobb said. The road is closed at the Highway 140 and 120 junction all the way to the Crane Flat gas station -- currently preventing motorists from driving to Tuolumne Meadows from Yosemite Valley.

Cobb confirmed that the fire is moving quickly due to the dry, low vegetation in the area. She said all 45 homes in Foresta and around 200 people have been evacuated. She was unable to comment on the size of the fire.

The cause of the fire remains unknown. There have been more than 3,000 lightning strikes in or around Yosemite since July 14, but there haven't been strikes near Foresta recently, Cobb said.

The park is currently monitoring a few other lightning fires in the high Sierra, she said.

Erica Stuart, spokeswoman for the Madera County Sheriff's Office, said shelters have been set up for the evacuated Foresta residents at Tenaya Lodge on Highway 41 and Groveland Community Center on Highway 120.

Stuart said that between 100 and 500 people are evacuating the Foresta area. She was told that this is a fast-moving fire.

Meanwhile, between 3:30 and 4 p.m. Saturday an El Portal resident heard the sound of an electric line shorting, and within minutes smoke and flames were close to homes in the community. The blaze then moved up the hill, threatening Foresta homes on the other side of the ridge.

Residents in El Portal have not been evacuated.

An employee at the El Portal Market said the fire appeared to be moving north. He had not been advised to evacuate, and he said that he wasn't worried by the nearby blaze.

An employee at the Cedar Lodge Motel in El Portal was not worried either. She could see smoke from the hotel lobby but didn't expect any evacuation orders.


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Original headline: Fire in Yosemite forces evacuations

Source: (c)2014 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

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