Lightning-Caused Fires Managed for Public Safety and Resource Benefit in Yosemite National Park
Four fires are currently being managed for resource benefit and public safety in Yosemite National Park. These fires are being closely monitored and contribute to the protection of communities in and around the park. Allowing smaller fires to expand under moderate conditions prevents fuel build-ups that can contribute to fires of catastrophic proportions, like those seen recently in Southern California and Lake Tahoe.
Naturally, concern over visible fires is heightened more than ever at this time. Forty-three firefighters including Yosemite crews, US Forest Service crews, and other resources are currently assigned to monitor these fires. Additionally, objectives for all four fires include managing fire spread and consistently monitoring fire behavior, weather, and smoke.
The largest of these fires is the Devil Fire, which is highly visible just north of Yosemite Valley along Cascade Creek. This fire is currently 100 acres in size and is expected to grow between ten and fifty acres a day, until late this week, when predicted wetter conditions may have a slowing effect. The smoke from this fire may impact Yosemite Valley at night, but daytime smoke has been dissipating to the northeast. The Jack Fire is seven acres in size and is perched on Turner Ridge two miles north of Wawona. This fire is visible from the Wawona Road near Alder Creek and smoke can be detected there in the mornings. Both of these fires are located in Mariposa County.
The Cotton Fire is located in Tuolumne County in the north end of the park within the boundary of the 1996 Ackerson Fire. This fire is only a quarter acre in size a mile east of Cottonwood Meadow. The fourth fire is the Johnson Fire in Madera County, which is a mile northeast of Crescent Lake. At over 8600 feet in elevation, this fire is not likely to persist for long this late in the season.
These four naturally-ignited wildland fires will be carefully managed until significant rainfall or snow extinguishes them. Smoke impacts to nearby communities, should they occur, will be carefully monitored. Yosemite National Park fire managers work closely with cooperating air quality regulatory agencies to minimize health impacts to park visitors and nearby communities. Creating and maintaining a mosaic of uneven-aged burn scars across the Yosemite Wilderness, merged with a program of prescribed burning adjacent to communities, enhances habitat, species diversity, and most importantly, community defensibility. Yosemite firefighters work each day to protect human communities by restoring healthy adjoining forest communities.
For additional information regarding this incident or with any other questions about the Yosemite National Park fire management program, please call 209/372-0328 or 0329.
Did You Know?
In Wawona and downstream, the South Fork Merced River provides habitat for a rare plant, the Sierra sweet bay (Myrica hartwegii). This special status shrub is found in only five Sierra Nevada counties. In Yosemite, it occurs exclusively on sand bars and river banks along the South Fork Merced River downstream from Wawona and on Big Creek.