Above: Map showing the perimeter of the Ferguson Fire at 11:34 p.m. PDT July 17. The red shaded areas represent intense heat at that time. The yellow line was the perimeter two days before.
Again Tuesday the Ferguson Fire spread in all directions. On the north side firefighters are attempting to tie it in with one of the routes that leads into Yosemite National Park, Highway 140. The highway has been closed west of El Portal since the fire started on July 13 and there’s no indication when it will reopen. Other routes into the park are open, but Yosemite Valley has severely degraded visibility due to heavy smoke from the fire.
Most of the growth Tuesday and Tuesday night was on the southeast and southwest sides. The high pressure that has been dominating the area is causing an inversion that has been preventing the smoke from blowing out of the area, holding it close to the ground. This makes it difficult or impossible to use fixed wing air tankers until the inversion breaks in the late afternoon when the inversion lifts.
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On Tuesday the fire backed down Ferguson Ridge and became well established in the Sweetwater Creek drainage and behind Cedar Lodge. Crews worked Tuesday night to secure line around Cedar Lodge and Indian Flat. The power line has been repaired, and electrical service has been restored to the area. Work on Tuesday involved improving containment lines, as well as protecting the communities of Jerseydale, Mariposa Pines. and Yosemite West.
Judging by the number of resources assigned, the Ferguson Fire is becoming a very large incident. There are a total 1,850 personnel, including 158 engines, 5 water tenders, 5 helicopters, 44 hand crews, and 16 dozers. A mapping flight Tuesday night determined it has burned 17,319 acres.
The weather on Wednesday will again be hot and dry, and the inversion will most likely keep air tankers grounded until late afternoon.