Published August 28, 2011
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. – About 100 people have been ordered to leave their homes as a wildfire burns outside Yosemite National Park, fire officials said Sunday.
Residents of the community of Rancheria were told to evacuate Saturday, while residents of the nearby communities of Yosemite West, Old El Portal, Incline and Jerseydale have also been told they may have leave their homes.
The blaze, which is burning in a steep and rugged area of thick forests along Highway 140, has also forced the indefinite closure of the roadway. The highway, one of the main entrances into the park, is shut down for nearly a 15-mile stretch from just east of the town of Mariposa to about two miles outside of the park's entrance.
Park officials are suggesting tourists traveling to Yosemite take Highway 120 or Highway 41 instead. The Tioga Road is also open for visitors entering the park on Highway 395.
Despite the size of the blaze and its proximity to Yosemite, park officials said it was not affecting activities within the park.
"Smoke is not really impacting the valley today," said Yosemite fire information officer Kass Hardy.
The blaze, which began Thursday when a motorhome caught fire, was 35 percent contained Sunday. About 850 firefighting personnel were on the scene, including helicopter crews who are taking water from the nearby Merced River and dropping it on the flames.