YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (KCBS) — A portion of Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park is being closed for the Labor Day weekend as firefighters look to stop the spread of the Rim Fire.
One of the largest fires in California history, the Rim Fire continued to burn in and around Yosemite. As of Wednesday, the fire has charred 293 square miles of the Sierra Nevada. Containment is only at 30 percent and the fire has claimed 111 structures.
Full containment isn’t expected for three weeks. In the meantime, a stretch of Tioga Road is being closed this weekend for firefighters to build containment lines to keep the fire from further encroaching into the park. However, it is making for a negative economic impact on the area.
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“For folks in the Bay Area for example, wishing to get into Tuolumne Meadows; they have to go around,” said Scott Gediman from Yosemite media relations, who said it should add a couple of hours to the trip.
Highway 41 and Highway 140 remain open, and both roads provide access to Yosemite Valley, which remains unaffected by the fire at this point.
The Ahwahnee Hotel is fully booked over Labor Day as are many campgrounds, but many are postponing trips.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Gediman said “because for a lot of the businesses that depend on the park for their revenue during the summer, it’s certainly an impact in this being the last big weekend of the summer.”
The towns of Sonora, Groveland and Columbia have been impacted by the closure of Highway 120, though they are making some of that up from the firefighters in the area.
Former California State Fire Marshal and Forestry and Fire Protection Chief Ron Coleman said “ground and ladder fuels” have built up in the forest’s understory and that these are particular fuels that carry up higher into the trees at a rapid pace. He added that the issue of preventative prescribed burns has always been more of a political policy issue.
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