Tourists view Yosemite Valley and Half Dome from Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park in California, Aug. 27, 2013. Closing Highway 120, an entrance to Yosemite National Park, because of the massive Rim Fire, one of the largest wildfires in the state’s history, raging just miles away, impacted businesses, tourism and livelihoods for some 200 miles.
Max Whittaker, Nyt - Nyt
This Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 image provided by the U.S. Forest Service shows a member of the BLM Silver State Hotshot crew using a drip torch to set back fires on the southern flank of the Rim Fire in California. The blaze has scorched 343 square miles of brush, oaks and pines and 11 homes, as of Saturday Aug. 31, 2013.
Mike Mcmkillan, Associated Press - Ap
Smoke from Sierra fire reaches Yosemite Valley
- Associated Press
- August 31, 2013 - 4:31 PM
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Dense smoke from a wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park on Saturday hampered both suppression efforts and the prized views sought by holiday weekend tourists.
For the first time since the blaze broke out in a neighboring forest two weeks ago, smoke obscured Yosemite Valley, home to the park's most popular landmarks, spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.
"I'm in Yosemite Valley right now, and I cannot see the cliffs around me," Cobb said. "The wind has shifted and smoke is impacting the entire park. We have been lucky until now."
All the campgrounds in the Valley still were full as of Saturday morning, despite the thick blanket and burning smell that permeated the area, she said.
Meanwhile, firefighting aircraft remained grounded because of low visibility caused by the smoke, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Mark Healey said. The blaze had scorched 343 square miles of brush, oaks and pines and 11 homes, as of Saturday.
Of that total, 94 square miles of wilderness have burned in the northern section of Yosemite, up from 75 square miles a day earlier.
Although containment efforts proceeded on a positive note overnight, officials were concerned Saturday about a 150-acre spot fire that crossed a road and prompted an evacuation order for homes near the west entrance of Yosemite, Healey said.
"The weather is keeping the smoke on the ground, so we can't use aerial suppression efforts at this time," he said. "We are doing what we can."
Healey said fresh firefighters were being brought in to replace tired crews, but that officials did not plan to reduce the nearly 5,000 people assigned to the fire.
The blaze's cause is under investigation.
© 2013 Star Tribune