Wildland Fires Continue to Expand in Yosemite National Park
Two fires are continuing to expand in Yosemite National Park. The Devil Wildland Fire Use (WFU) fire, within the wilderness boundary, continues to be managed for resource benefit. It is located north of Yosemite Valley along Cascade Creek. In the southern end of the Park, the Jack Fire continues to burn on the north and south sides of Turner Ridge north of Wawona. The fire behavior of both has slowed due to the weekend precipitation and much cooler temperatures and higher humidity.
Fire managers must balance the use of fire for resource benefits with fire suppression and prescribed fire to maintain healthy ecosystems, the visitor experience, and the protection of life and property. When the fires started by lightning October 29, fire managers considered many factors before deciding to place the fires under a wildland fire use management strategy. Some of these considerations were location of the fires, time of season, available resources, potential smoke impacts, and projected fire behavior and growth. 11 of the 14 total fires started during the lightning event were immediately suppressed.
The Devil Fire (180 acres) is progressing across the landscape nearly uninterrupted as it functions as a natural part of a healthy ecosystem. Some of the benefits of this and other natural fires are improved forest health and enhanced habitat diversity. Due to the recent weather changes, the fire has experienced little recent growth. Personnel assigned to the fire are monitoring fire behavior, weather and smoke.
The Jack Fire (300 acres) originally began as a wildland fire use event but expanded outside the fire use management zone on November 8, 2007. At that time, actions were taken to slow the fire's spread south toward Wawona. There is no past fire history in this area of the Park. The north half of the fire remains in wilderness and will be allowed to continue backing slowly off Turner Ridge.
Decades of fire suppression, long term drought, and other factors have created unnaturally heavy fuel loads in some park areas, including the area north of Wawona where the Jack Fire is located. Using fire as an ecological restoration tool as well as to create defensible space around fire prone communities reduces the chance of future catastrophic fires like those seen in many parts of the country this year.
Air quality is closely monitored and information is provided regularly about smoke from the fires. Yosemite National Park fire managers work closely with cooperating air quality regulatory agencies to minimize health impacts to park visitors and nearby communities. Additionally, park managers work closely with communities in and around Yosemite National Park to educate residents and visitors about the benefits of managed fire.
For additional information regarding this incident or with any other questions about the Yosemite National Park fire management program, please call 209/375-9572.
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.