Ferguson Fire burning west of Yosemite National Park

map Ferguson Fire

Above: map showing heat on the Ferguson Fire detected by a satellite at 3 a.m. PDT July 14, 2018.

(UPDATED at 3:15 p.m. PDT July 14, 2018)

For a while late Saturday morning, smoke and impaired visibility grounded all air tankers on the Ferguson Fire, but by early afternoon the smoke had cleared enough to bring them back to drop retardant.

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

Now we are hearing that the fire has spotted across the South Fork of the Merced River on the west side of the fire. There is an effort to have the air tankers pretreat a ridge in an attempt to slow down the fire in that area.

(UPDATED at 2:02 p.m. PDT July 14, 2018)

We regret to have to report that a firefighter died this morning on the Ferguson Fire west of Yosemite National Park. CAL FIRE announced this afternoon that Heavy Fire Equipment Operator Braden Varney was tragically killed while battling the fire. Mr Varney leaves behind a wife and two small children.

One of the firefighters on the fire reported this morning that he thought there was a dozer rollover, and just in case, he wanted to get medical help started to the scene. It turned out that the dozer had rolled several times and ended up in a location that was very difficult to access by foot or see from an aircraft.

Just after 1 p.m. local time CAL FIRE made the official announcement about the fatality.

We send out our sincere condolences to Mr. Varney’s family, coworkers, and friends.

(UPDATED at 9:26 a.m. PDT July 14, 2018)

At 9:26 a.m. PDT Air Attack said the Ferguson Fire was holding at about 150 acres. The terrain, smoke, and power lines are challenges for the air tankers working the fire.

aircraft ferguson fire
At 9 a.m. PDT flight tracking showed two S2T air tankers and an Air Attack aircraft over the Ferguson Fire. The green line was the approximate track of the Air Attack ship.

(Originally published at 7:44 a.m. PDT July 14, 2018)

Highway 140, one of the three highways that lead into Yosemite Valley in California, is closed due to a new wildfire. The Ferguson Fire was reported at 10:35 p.m. Friday and at last report had burned about 75 acres. The fire is just off Highway 140 near Hite Cove and has high potential to grow. Since firefighters were working under electrical lines the power in the area has been shut off, which may affect Yosemite National Park. The area around Savages Trading Post has been evacuated.

The fire is spreading in steep terrain in the Sierra National Forest 7 miles west of El Portal. The incident commander has requested four fixed wing air tankers, of any type, to attack the fire early Saturday morning if possible. They also requested dozers, helicopters, water tenders, and hand crews.

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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.

14 thoughts on “Ferguson Fire burning west of Yosemite National Park”

  1. Camp Mather – as the crow flies, is a good 15+ miles away from the fire’s initial ignition location. BUT: the smoke from Ferguson has impacted the entire region. And the fire has grown over the past week to nearly 30,000 acres, with the latest movement a direct push basically NNE – across the Merced from Savage’s, and on the western flank of Trumbull, forcing the evacuation of Anderson valley today. It’s also moving east and southeast, causing the evacuation of Yosemite West today as well. Areas closer to Mather that have already been evacuated include the entirety of El Portal and Foresta, in the park.

    Personally? I wouldn’t take a six-year-old and baby there simply due to the smoke/bad air conditions. And those conditions are not going to improve over the next few days due to expected weather conditions and the fact this fire is only 7% contained.

  2. Any updates regarding Camp Mather? We are supposed to go there tomorrow with our 6-year old and our baby who will be 1 this week. Thank you for your time!

  3. can anyone give me an update on wawona? family coming in from out of town this Thursday.

  4. Hi, Michel –
    Sorry about the current conditions caused by the Ferguson Fire. It’s been difficult to get the latest information this morning, but at the moment, Fish Camp (highway 41, south entrance) is open and you can access highway 120 all the way to Tuolumne Meadows/Tioga Pass from the junction within the park.
    El Portal is still inaccessible from highway 140 – and in fact, yesterday the road’s continuation inside Yosemite (El Portal Road) was closed due to rocks falling on the road – effectively closing that road all the way from Midpines to the 120 junction in the park. For current road conditions inside Yosemite, call their road info line: 209-372-0200. Good luck –

  5. We come from Belgium and arrive in Yosemite on saturday 21 july (Fish Camp for one night) and on sunday (El Portal for one night). Any danger or risk?

    Is the road from El Portal to Tioga Pass (120) open?

    Thanks everybody for more information

    1. Camp Mather should be fine. It is off of highway 120, towards Hetch Hetchy. This fire is south of 140 burning in the general directions towards highway 49.

    1. We were evacuated at 10:45 on Saturday evening – the entirety of Jerseydale Road from Triangle all the way to the end of Hites Cove Road, and all ancillary roads.


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