YOSEMITE — The Ahwahnee Hotel, which was evacuated Wednesday after rock slides threatened the 82-year-old building, will reopen at 4 p.m. today. But as the valley recovered from the slides, firefighters battled a 2,200-acre blaze on the park's western edge.
Guests at the Ahwahnee were asked to leave the building Wednesday afternoon after rocks plunged off a 1,600-foot granite cliff and crashed into the hotel parking lot. The rocks damaged three cars. No one was injured and no buildings were damaged.
The largest of the falling rocks was about 23 feet by 23 feet, or 950 tons, park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said. That sounds huge, but it's relatively small compared with past rock slides at the park, Cobb said. Wednesday's rock slide was about one-tenth the size of the slide that closed part of Curry Village in October.
The rocks fell from Royal Arches, a formation that stands about 1,600 feet high. A geologist flew in a helicopter to examine the cliff's face. "His consensus was that it was pretty solid and nothing more is going to release," Cobb said.
Park officials had other worries on Yosemite's west side. About 500 firefighters were fighting a fire in Big Meadow, just north of Foresta. Officials intentionally set the fire Wednesday, a routine measure meant to promote forest health and prevent fires. The fire was supposed to burn about 90 acres, but grew out of control. Authorities asked about 200 people to leave Foresta. No homes have been damaged.
Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2378.