A fire started by lightning July 31 in Yosemite National Park has grown to more than 400 acres, and could possibly grow to 5,800 acres.
Firefighters are fighting the Avalanche Fire near Glacier Point Road. The fire is within the park’s wilderness boundary and will be managed for multiple objectives. The fire is creeping and smoldering through plant material and other surface fuels. Lightning fires have shaped the forest landscape for thousands of years, and this fire will rid the forest of an overabundance of dead and down surface fuels and smaller trees.
Firefighters are igniting fuels along spur ridges to bring a backing fire towards Glacier Point Road. The operation will increase the acres and amount of visible smoke. Firefighters remain on scene through the night to insure holding the fire to the east of Glacier Point Road. As the fire moves closer to the roadways, the presence of firefighters, fire equipment and smoke will increase. Drivers are urged to adhere to posted 25 mph speed limits, possible single lane closures and traffic officer instructions.
Smoke is visible from many locations along the Wawona and Big Oak Flat roads, from the community of El Portal and locations outside of the park. Fire managers are working with the Mariposa County Air Pollution Control District concerning potential air quality issues. Yosemite’s division of resources and sciences crews have installed air quality monitoring equipment within the communities of Yosemite West, El Portal and in Yosemite Valley.
Actions such as helicopter water drops may be used by firefighters to minimize and reduce smoke.
-- Sun-Star staff