Tourists and visitors to Yosemite National Park are being forced to evacuate due to ongoing wildfires.
All of Yosemite Valley is closed to visitors today as wildfires continue to ravage parts of the Nevada parks area. Yosemite National Park has been closed since Wednesday, July 25th due to ongoing fires that have been raging since July 13th.
Yosemite National Park superintendent Michael Reynolds warned visitors to "get yourself out of here if you can" on Tuesday.
The closure includes all campgrounds, hotels, and visitor areas. The famous hiking trails of the park are likewise closed and all vacationers have been advised to leave immediately. Park officials report over 1,000 camping reservations have thus far been canceled.
Hot and dry weather lingers over the Yosemite area, further fueling the fire danger. Smoke from the wildfires has greatly reduced visibility with air quality deteriorating at a rapid pace.
While the valley is not in immediate danger of combusting, firefighters are performing precautionary measures for containing the flames when they do arrive. Controlled brush fires are being performed at roadside to remove possible avenues for the fire to spread while some 16 helicopters continue to dump water and fire-retardant chemicals over the suspected path of the flames.
The fire began in Merced River Canyon on July 13th and has quickly spread to cover 57 square miles of Sierra Nevada. One firefighter has died due to the fires, while 6 others are reported injured.
Even with an army of 3,000 career and volunteer firefighters, combating the blaze has been difficult due to Yosemite’s lack of road access. Water bombers have also been fighting the fires using chemical retardants, but without boots in some of the hardest hit areas containment has proven extremely challenging.
Officials estimate that the fires are roughly 25% contained at this time, but without rain in the 7-day weather forecast, they expect the fires to rage mostly unhindered or the foreseeable future.
If you were planning on vacationing to Yosemite in the near future, now’s the time to call your travel agent to rebook.