Meadow Fire — Yosemite National Park

(UPDATE at 8:55 a.m. PDT, September 10, 2014)

The spread of the Meadow Fire in Yosemite National Park in California has slowed, but still grew by about 100 acres on Tuesday to a total of 4,500 acres. As predicted, sunny weather and much lower relative humidity enabled some spot fires to become more active. There was also some isolated crowning and torching. On Wednesday the weather will be similar, but with stronger winds gusting up to 15 mph out of the west in the afternoon.

Firefighters are staying overnight in spike camps at several locations to reduce helicopter flights into the wilderness, but helicopters are being used to support crews with water drops. The highest priority is to secure the west flank to allow the trail to Half Dome to open.

The National Park Service has settled the issue of the origin of this fire, writing on InciWeb that it was an expansion of the fire that had been monitored since July 19, exacerbated by a wind event, rather than it being a new fire that started on Sunday.

Professional photographer Michael Frye posted some excellent photos of the fire on his web site.


(UPDATE at 8:35 a.m. PDT, September 9, 2014)

3-D Map of the Meadow Fire
3-D Map of the Meadow Fire at 11 p.m. September 8, 2014. Looking east. Half Dome can be seen in the center of the image, between Yosemite Valley and the fire. (Click to enlarge.)

The Meadow Fire in Yosemite National Park has grown to about 4,400 acres and was still very active when it was mapped Monday night. Rain showers passed through the area Monday morning but the precipitation may have evaporated before much of it hit the ground, since a weather station in Yosemite Valley did not detect any rain. Another weather station about 12 miles northwest of the fire measured 0.07 inches.

The Meadow Fire was first reported on July 19 but was not suppressed. It had spread to cover 19 acres while it was being monitored, until Sunday, September 7 when it began to grow rapidly pushed by a very strong wind.

On Sunday 85 hikers and climbers were evacuated from the summit of Half Dome by helicopters from the California Highway Patrol, U.S. Forest Service, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, and CAL FIRE.

High humidities assisted firefighters on Monday, slowing the spread of the fire, but the RH will lower into the 20s on Tuesday and no rain, in fact no clouds, are in the forecast for several days.

Cooper’s Type 2 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire Monday. No information about the fire has been posted on InciWeb, however we found some updates on Facebook and the park’s website.

Map of the Meadow Fire at 11 p.m. September 8, 2014
Map of the Meadow Fire at 11 p.m. September 8, 2014. North is up. (Click to enlarge.)
 Meadow Fire
Half Dome reaches above the smoke created by the Meadow Fire, as seen from Sentinel Dome at 8:51 a.m. PDT, 9-9-2014.


(UPDATE at 5:11 p.m. PDT September 8, 2014)

The NPS announced Monday morning that the fire in Yosemite has been mapped at 2,582 acres, up from the 700 acres reported late Sunday.

This time-lapse video of the fire is fascinating. It gets better at 0:21 after the camera is moved out of the bottom of the valley.


(UPDATE at 8:43 a.m. PDT, September 8, 2014)

Meadow Fire at 8:26 a.m. PDT, September 8, 2014
Meadow Fire, as seen from Sentinel Dome at 8:26 a.m. PDT, September 8, 2014

Above is an updated look at the Meadow Fire in Yosemite National Park, Monday morning at 8:26 local time.

The National Situation Report on Monday said structures are threatened.

A local meteorologist reported that the fire area was receiving some rain Monday morning at 8:39 PDT.


(Originally published at 12:41 a.m. PDT, September 8, 2014)

Meadow Fire
Meadow Fire September 7, 2014.  Half Dome can be seen on the left side of the photo. NPS Photo.

The Meadow Fire just east of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in California has required the evacuation of about 100 hikers. A helicopter flew tourists off of the top of Half Dome while backpackers on hiking trails in some areas were told to leave the area.

The National Park Service on their Facebook page said the fire, detected at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, may have grown from the Meadow fire that has been burning since July 20, 2014. Park Spokesperson Jim Tucker said, “Firefighters have been monitoring the flames for 49 days. In that time, it grew to 19 acres. However, a spark from that blaze has now ignited this larger fire.”

The fire quickly grew to 700 acres Sunday afternoon.

The new phase of this fire, burning at about 7,000 feet, is being fully suppressed. Six Hotshot Crews and Cooper’s Type 2 Incident Management Team are en route.

The fire has crossed the Merced River in Little Yosemite Valley in the Yosemite Wilderness. At about 8 p.m. on Sunday a Park spokesperson said the estimated size was 700 acres.

On September 4 the Park posted the following update on the Meadow Fire:

This is a remote, hold-over lightning caused fire. Yosemite Fire Module 1 hiked into the fire area September 3. They are mapping, taking weather and monitoring the fire behavior. The fire is approximately 19 acres in size, with sixty percent of the perimeter active. It is creeping through red fir and lodgepole pine, and is surrounded by granite knobs. It is northeast of Mount Starr King and south of Starr King Meadow. Smoke from the fire is visible from many park locations, and in particular, Glacier Point area and in Yosemite Valley during the morning hours. Smoke is likely to continue to be visible until the park receives precipitation.

On September 4 they were also monitoring but not suppressing three other fires in the park that had been burning since July 16, 2014.

Yosemite National Park remains open as well as the facilities within Yosemite Valley. Trails near the Half Dome area, the Little Yosemite Valley area (a backcountry camping area near Half Dome), Merced Lake and Sunrise High Sierra Camps, Clouds Rest, and Echo Valley are closed due to fire activity. All roads leading into Yosemite remain open.

Click on the photos below to see larger versions.

Map of Meadow Fire
Map showing the location of the Meadow Fire. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 2 p.m. PDT, September 7, 2014. Smoke can be seen in the satellite photo overlaid over a Google map. The perimeter of the 2013 Rim Fire is northwest of the Meadow Fire.
Meadow Fire
The Meadow Fire as seen from Sentinel Dome at 2:21 p.m. PDT, September 7, 2014. Half Dome is in the foreground.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

8 thoughts on “Meadow Fire — Yosemite National Park”

  1. Good argument,Tom
    Now let us go on the premise of cost and maintenance of wilderness areas

    Eventually these RX burns are going to need a lot more monitoring by the public who pays the people, to yes, monitor and let burn in a wilderness area…

    The NPS was right to evacuate…..more like HAS a responsibilty to evac

    Be a day when these monitored fires goes off reservation and tells us that going from 1900 acres to over 3000 acres and starts costing more than its worth in limited dollar environments…..NPS may need to start having to have bake sales to CYA

    Matter of time when dollars and common sense during drier fire seasons will direct the mission rather than man’s mimicking science

    Might have to log a few off……oooops did I say that in or about a wilderness area???

    Sure they need to be protected…..from even the Agencies themselves!!!!

  2. Common Sense and PL 3 while being “monitored” leads me to believe the NPS ought to be paying for all the JET A…

    Clearly the common sense the last few years related to RX burns have a lot to be desired.

    No one to blame on this fire except the NPS…..where it squarely needs to be addressed

    PL3 and monitoring……unbelievable!!

    1. Well, first I’m not sure this is a spot fire from the lightning fire, as opposed to a human caused ignition. It’s a pretty long spotting distance, but the investigation will determine the source. Second, PL 3 is not especially much in terms of fire activity, so I doubt this fire is taking away resources that are needed elsewhere. Third, this is wilderness, and fires have been behaving like this for decades and there is no ecological downside other than air quality impacts. The park was quite right to evacuate the several dozen hikers in the area, but I hope the suppression response will be carefully measured, given the abundant natural barriers in the area.

        1. Yes, exactly. As is the area affected by the Rim fire, though not for long if they proceed with logging that they admit will be a money-loser.

  3. As a former Yosemite Ranger, who fully supports the science behind controlled burns, I just cannot believe they let ANY fire burn in this intensely arid year. They were asking for trouble, and got it.


Comments are closed.