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Rain forces closure of major highway leading to Yosemite

Fire crews battle the Ferguson Fire along Highway 140 in Mariposa County

Fire crews battle the Ferguson Fire in steep terrain behind the Redbud Lodge along Highway 140 in Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday, July 14, 2018.
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Fire crews battle the Ferguson Fire in steep terrain behind the Redbud Lodge along Highway 140 in Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday, July 14, 2018.

Caltrans is preemptively closing the main route to Yosemite National Park from Merced in anticipation of heavy rains in and near the area of the Ferguson Fire.

A full closure of Highway 140 between Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal, in Mariposa County, will begin at about 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to a Caltrans news release. Transportation officials are urging motorists and Yosemite visitors to take alternate routes.

The closure is due to an ongoing storm that could impact the roadway and threaten public safety, the release states, adding the duration of the closure will depend on the weather.

The 17-mile stretch of Highway 140, just four miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance, is close to and within the area of the 2018 Ferguson Fire burn scar. Heavy rains can cause dangerous mudslides and debris in the area of burn scars, officials said.

“Caltrans crews will close the road when the storm begins,” the release states. “After the storm has passed, Caltrans crews will clear any debris and inspect the road before reopening it to traffic.”

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Vikaas Shanker is an award-winning reporter covering education, crime and courts for the Merced Sun-Star and Los Banos Enterprise. After growing up in Naperville, Illinois and graduating from the University of Kansas, he reported in several Chicago suburbs before moving to Merced County in 2016.
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