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Lightning Caused Fires Continue to Burn in Yosemite National Park

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Date: July 1, 2009

Two lightning caused fires in Yosemite National Park continue to grow and are being managed for natural resource benefits.  Both of these fires have been inactive due to cool weather conditions, however activity has increased due to dry and hot weather.

The Grouse and Harden fires in Yosemite National Park continue to move at a steady pace under hot and dry conditions.  The Grouse Fire (848 acres) is about three miles southwest of Yosemite Valley and north of Glacier Point Road.  The Harden Fire (593 acres) is on the north side of the park, west of Harden Lake and northwest of White Wolf. 

Travelers are advised of temporary road delays and closures, due to smoke and firefighters working along the Wawona Road and the Glacier Point Road.  For firefighter and driver safety, please use caution.    

On Tuesday, early morning light rain and clouds gave way to the predominant hot and dry weather that has been over the area the past few days.  As the temperature rose, the fires started to gain momentum through the afternoon into the early evening.  A significant smoke column was visible on the Harden Fire around 5 p.m.   Managers expect continued vigorous activity on the fires while the current weather pattern remains in place.  

Tuesday, personnel took actions on the Grouse Fire along Steamboat Ridge to reinforce the northern boundary to keep the fire within the defined management area.  On the Harden Fire, personnel began fire line construction east and west of the fire to stop fire progression in those directions while allowing north and south progression to continue.  In addition, helicopters dropped buckets of water on hot spots to slow fire spread and shuttled supplies for crews.    

Trail closures have been implemented on the Harden Fire for public safety.  The closures are the Smith Meadow to White Wolf and Aspen Valley to White Wolf.  There is an alternate route to Pate Valley from White Wolf, which bypasses the Harden Lake area.     

Park staff continues to monitor smoke and work closely with Mariposa and Tuolumne County Air Pollution Control Districts to address air quality concerns.  Managers have implemented actions on the Grouse Fire to meet incident objectives and minimize smoke impacts to the park and surrounding communities. Smoky conditions may exist from time to time within the park, on roads and in surrounding areas. Residents and visitors are advised to take precautions to minimize smoke impacts to health. To see air quality data, please visit:  http://www.nps.gov/yose/naturescience/aqmonitoring.htm

A strong high pressure will persist over the next few days with partly cloudy conditions, high temperatures and a chance of isolated thunderstorms. 

All park facilities remain open.  Smoke is visible at many locations throughout the park.  Please use caution while driving through the park. 

For additional information, please call 209/375-9574 or visit the Inciweb at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/1704 or http://www.inciweb.org/incident/1708

Did You Know?

The Merced River flowing serenely through Yosemite Valley

Congress designated the Merced River as Wild and Scenic in 1987. The National Park Service manages 81 miles of the Merced River, encompassing both the main stem and the South Fork in Yosemite National Park and the El Portal Administrative Site. More...