Flyover tour of Ferguson Fire at Yosemite National Park

Take a simulated flight over the 89,000-acre wildfire

Above: screenshot from the video.

This is a flyover virtual tour of the Ferguson Fire burning in and near Yosemite National Park in California. The red line was the perimeter at 12:15 a.m. PDT August 5, 2018. The red shaded areas were intense heat at that time. The blue line is the location of the huge Rim Fire of 2013. The green line is the boundary between Yosemite National Park and U.S. Forest Service managed land. Recorded by WildfireToday.com August 5, 2018.

The fire has burned over 89,000 acres in Yosemite National Park, Sierra National Forest, and Stanislaus National Forest. On the north edge it has burned into the footprint of the Rim Fire that blackened 257,000 acres in 2013.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Ferguson Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.)

Ferguson Fire spreads across Highway 41, moves deeper into Yosemite

The fire is well established on the east side of Highway 41 and has crossed Glacier Point Road

(UPDATED at 5:20 a.m. PDT August 4, 2018)

map Ferguson Fire
Map showing the perimeter of the Ferguson Fire at 1:30 a.m. PDT August 4, 2018. The red shaded areas represent intense heat at that time. The blue line at the top is the 2013 Rim Fire. Click to enlarge.

These two maps of the Ferguson Fire at Yosemite National Park in California include the latest perimeter data collected by a fixed wing aircraft at 1:30 a.m. PDT August 4, 2018.

Friday afternoon the fire spotted across two highways running for almost a mile in both places — east of Highway 41 at Glacier Point Road, and across Highway 140 below Foresta. The slop over across 41 was approximately 200 acres at 1:30 a.m. PDT on Saturday. About half of that crossed over Glacier Point Road.

map Ferguson Fire
Map showing the northeast perimeter of the Ferguson Fire at 1:30 a.m. PDT August 4, 2018. The red shaded areas represent intense heat at that time. Click to enlarge.

Below is an excerpt from a Friday evening update by the incident management team:

The Ferguson Fire grew by 3,647 acres throughout the day and was at 77,207 acres as of 6 p.m. Containment is at 41 percent. Firefighters worked throughout the day on a spot fire that jumped the Merced River early this morning and is burning in the Crane Creek drainage southwest of Foresta. Aircraft dropped water and retardant in support of firefighters.

Bulldozers and hand crews built containment lines between the fire and Foresta. Engines and crews remained in Foresta for structure protection. While Yosemite Valley was not in imminent danger, dangerous road conditions, smoke and a loss of power prompted Yosemite National Park officials to evacuate the area until further notice.

Later in the afternoon, another spot fire emerged west of Wawona Road (Highway 41) and began advancing toward Badger Pass. Evacuations were issued along Highway 140 out of concern that shifting winds overnight could bring the fire back into the communities.

On the north side of the fire, crews completed tactical firing along Pilot Ridge on the Mariposa-Tuolumne county line. They will perform firing operations south along the 13 Road as weather allows to fully contain the fire’s northern perimeter.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Ferguson Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.)


(UPDATED at 7:17 p.m. PDT August 3, 2018)

map Ferguson Fire
The satellite heat sensing data from 2:43 p.m. PDT August 3, 2018, represented by the red dots, can be seen in the map above.

The satellite heat sensing data from 2:43 p.m. PDT August 3, 2018, represented by the red dots, can be seen in the map above. It shows heat where the Ferguson Fire, at Yosemite National Park in California, crossed Highway 41 near Glacier Point Road, and Highway 140 south and southeast of Foresta.

We hope to have an updated map Saturday morning. Continue reading “Ferguson Fire spreads across Highway 41, moves deeper into Yosemite”

TBT: Fire effects in Yosemite NP, 1897

For Throwback Thursday we’re throwing WAY back, to 1897. This photo shows Yosemite National Park Superintendent Capt. Alex Rogers standing next to a fire-scarred tree near Tioga Road in September, 1897.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Firefighters battling South Fork Fire east of Wawona, California

Above: South Fork Fire. Inciweb.

(Originally published at 11:38 a.m. PDT August 15, 2017)

The main priority of firefighters battling the South Fork Fire in Yosemite National Park in California is protecting homes in the North Wawona community 1.7 miles west of the fire along the South Fork of the Merced River.

Not much information is available about the fire 56 hours after it was reported very early Sunday morning, but we know that it is burning above the river on steep, rocky slopes in a forested area with beetle-killed trees. While a fire burning through dead trees sounds scary, after the needles fall off, the trees burn with less intensity and rate of spread than a healthy forest.

According to the South Zone Coordination Center, voluntary evacuations are in effect for Wawona on the east side of Chilnaulna Falls Ridge.

Our very unofficial estimate based on satellite data from 3:43 a.m. PDT Tuesday puts it at approximately 2,000 acres. The last official figure from the Incident Management Team was 1,613 acres at 7 p.m. Monday.

map South Fork Fire
3-D map of the South Fork Fire. Estimated perimeter (in red) based on satellite data from 3:43 a.m. PDT August 15, 2017.

Deron Mills’ Type 2 Incident Management Team is transitioning into the management structure of the fire today, Tuesday.

The weather forecast for the fire area for Tuesday calls for sunny skies, 75 to 80 degrees, relative humidity in the mid-30s, and very light winds on the slopes in the morning increasing to 10 mph on the ridgetops in the afternoon.

The South Fork Fire and others in California are contributing to unhealthy air quality in many areas.

visibility in Yosemite National Park El Capitan
The visibility in Yosemite National Park at El Capitan, 12:02 p.m. PDT August 15, 2017.
pm25 air quality california wildfire
The forecast for the maximum levels of wildfire particulate matter (PM 2.5) for August 15, 2017 in Central California. Experimental product by U.S. Forest Service/BlueSky.

2 fires in Yosemite National Park, Empire and South Fork

Above: Satellite photo of the South Fork and Empire Fires in Yosemite National Park, August 14, 2017.

(Originally published at 3:40 a.m. PDT August 14, 2017)

Two large fires are burning in Yosemite National Park. The Empire Fire started two weeks ago and is being monitored but not completely suppressed. It has spread across 1,200 acres one mile south of Bridalveil Campground in Yosemite’s Wilderness.

The first report of the South Fork Fire came in at 2:30 a.m. Sunday, August 13 near the South Fork of the Merced River 2.6 miles east of Wawona.

South Fork Fire
South Fork Fire. Posted on InciWeb August 14, 2017.

It has burned approximately 1,000 acres. Smoke has prevented the use of air tankers at times, but there is a report that all three of the military MAFFS aircraft currently activated have dropped on the fire when the smoke has cleared.

A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been ordered.

South Fork Fire map empire
3-D map of the South Fork and Empire Fires in Yosemite National Park, August 14, 2017.

Wildfire smoke travels farther south into the United States

Wildfire smoke
Wildfire smoke at 1:20 a.m. MDT August 14, 2017. NOAA.

While sleeping with the windows open I woke up at 2 a.m. Monday morning with the strong smell of forest fire smoke in the house. I checked NOAA’s smoke map on my phone and sure enough there it was, in several shades of brown. Oddly, in spite of the strong smell, it is barely registering at the nearest air quality monitoring site.

Canadian smoke does not often drift this far south into the Black Hills of South Dakota in high enough concentrations to have a strong odor.

Wildfires air quality
Wildfires and air quality, at 2 a.m. MDT August 14, 2017

air quality legendBut it is much, much worse in some areas. I have friends that basically evacuated from Missoula at least temporarily because of the smoke, where Saturday the air was “very unhealthy”. And this morning in Calgary, Alberta the PM2.5 is 234, also “very unhealthy”.

And, thanks to the South Fork Fire that started Sunday 1.5 miles east of the community of Wawona in Yosemite National Park and the Empire Fire that has been burning in that area since August 1, it is “unhealthy” to breathe in Yosemite Valley where the PM2.5 is 154. The Empire Fire is not being suppressed so the smoky conditions could persist for an extended period of time. The South Fork Fire is a suppression fire.