Lightning Strikes in Yosemite National Park Cause Four Fires
August 3, 2011
One Fire Being Managed For Multiple Objectives
On Sunday, July 31, 2011, Yosemite National Park experienced a severe thunderstorm, causing four confirmed lightning fires. These lightning caused fires were spotted at Moss Creek near the Merced Grove, Moraine Dome near Little Yosemite Valley, Lost Valley just east of Moraine Dome, and Avalanche Creek east of the Glacier Point Road. All fires, except the Avalanche Creek fire, have been suppressed.
The Avalanche Fire is in designated wilderness, east of the Glacier Point Road and one mile north of Chinquapin, and will be managed for multiple objectives. Yosemite National Park Fire Managers are currently gathering data to effectively manage the fire. By managing this fire, it will provide a defensible fire buffer to the community of Yosemite West, Badger Pass Ski Resort, and other nearby park infrastructures.
Smoke from the Avalanche Fire is visible along the Glacier Point Road, portions of the Wawona Road (Highway 41), and the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120). Yosemite Resource Managers have installed air quality monitoring equipment within the communities of Yosemite West, El Portal, and Yosemite Valley. The park is also working with the Mariposa County Air Pollution Control District to monitor potential air quality impacts.
Lightning caused wildland fires frequently occur during the summer months in Yosemite. Fire is a natural part of the Sierra Nevada ecosystem, which has shaped the forest landscape for thousands of years. Wildland fires create open spaces within dense forest, allowing sunlight to penetrate the forest floor. In addition, these fires rid the ground of an overabundance of surface fuels.
It is not unusual to observe new lighting caused fires several days after a severe thunderstorm and as the weather warms. Fire officials will continue to monitor Yosemite’s wilderness for any new fires.
For more information on the Avalanche Fire and the Fire Program in Yosemite National Park, please visit www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/current_fire.htm