South Fork and Empire Fire Updates - August 17, 2017

August 17, 2017 Posted by: Yosemite Fire Information

South Fork Fire

Start date: 8/13/17 2:30 pm
Size: 2,407 acres                                                                  Containment: 7%
Cause: Unknown                                                                  Incident Personnel: 449
Fuels: Mixed conifer, oak and brush
The South Fork Fire experienced minimal growth yesterday as weather conditions and high humidity levels held the fire within the western and southern containment lines. The fire continues to slowly spread to the northeast into the Yosemite Wilderness. Air resources will continue to assist the firefighting effort today as smoke levels allow. Direct line construction was tied into Wawona Dome on the west flank. Burning operations may begin today to allow for the protection of the Wawona community and the Mariposa Sequoia Grove.
Strategic objectives are to hold the western and southern flanks while monitoring the northern and eastern edges. Minimal Impact Suppression Tactics are being used to manage the area of the fire, using natural barriers such as rocks or streams, trails, and other minimal disturbance methods to contain the fire.
Smoke is expected to be heavy in the fire area and adjacent communities and is likely to be very dense in Wawona in the evenings and mornings. Community members who are sensitive to smoke should consult their physician and may want remain indoors or leave the area in periods of heavy smoke. Residents can monitor the air quality links below for current information.
There remains a threat of thunderstorm activity in the fire area today as a weak low pressure system remains over the region.
The South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team (Deron Mills IC) assumed command of the fire at 6:00 AM on August 16th. The SCSIIMT is comprised of employees from state and federal agencies, municipalities, and several local resources to support firefighting personnel in their suppression efforts.
There is a voluntary evacuation in place for the Wawona community.

Map showing South Fork Fire as of 8.17.17

Empire Fire

Location: N 37° 38' 40" x W 119° 37' 6" at approximately 7300 feet elevation
Discovery Date: July 31, 2017
Size: 1,450 acres
Cause: Lightning
The Empire Fire is being managed for both resource and protection objectives. It is approximately 1 mile south of the Bridalveil Creek Campground east of Alder Creek drainage and west of Bridalveil Creek drainage, burning in red fir. Fire behavior has been actively flanking and backing with some single and group tree torching. The fire is burning in heavy pockets of dead and down timber, reducing fuels buildup which increases forest resiliency. Projected fire growth is expected in the northeast and southeast flanks.  
The affected area is in a fire-adapted wilderness. Allowing fires to burn naturally can result in healthier, more diverse ecosystems. Reducing fuels buildup minimizes the potential for future severe fires. Although the current fire may have transient, moderate smoke impacts, more severe fires can cause unhealthy levels of smoke for extended periods, over a much wider area.
Trails are closed from Bridalveil Creek Campground at the second junction with the Ostrander trail and from Westfall Meadow to the Deer Camp junction, along Alder Creek. Bridalveil Creek Campground is closed for fire resource use.  
The fire will be visible from the high country and may be seen from multiple viewpoints in the immediate area off Glacier Point Road including Sentinel and Washburn Points.
Fire Managers are working with the local Air Quality Districts and will be monitoring smoke impacts to the park and local communities. Community members who are sensitive to smoke may want to close their windows and doors and monitor the air quality links below.


Additional Information

  • Rapid Notify is a community alert system for rapid event notifications. Register by visiting www.alert.rapid
  • Nixle is a public-safety notification system. Sign up for emergency alerts by texting 95389 to 888-777 or visit their website at

Last updated: August 17, 2017

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