Re­open­ing date is set for High­way 41 route to Yosemite

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Stay Connected - BY CRESENCIO RO­DRIGUEZ-DELGADO cdel­[email protected]­ Cresencio Ro­driguez-Delgado: 559-441-6304, @cres_guez

The road into Yosemite Na­tional Park from High­way 41 is ex­pected to re­open in the com­ing week, as con­tain­ment of the Ferguson Fire nears 90 per­cent.

U.S. For­est Ser­vice of­fi­cials said Satur­day morn­ing that Wa­wona Road, High­way 41 in the park, will open at 8 a.m. on Aug. 24. The road had been closed from Wa­wona to the Tun­nel View area since evac­u­a­tions were first or­dered in Yosemite Val­ley on July 25, cut­ting off the south­ern ac­cess from Oakhurst into the park.

For­est of­fi­cials say that the wild­fire burning in Mari­posa County since July 13 is now in a “mop up” and “re­pair” phase. The agency has not in­creased its con­tain­ment num­bers but says the last re­main­ing chal­lenge now that the fire has stopped grow­ing in large amounts is that un­burned ar­eas tend to ig­nite when day­time tem­per­a­tures are ex­tremely hot, but “they are not a threat to con­tain­ment lines.”

As of Satur­day, the Ferguson Fire has burned 96,824 acres, a num­ber that re­mained the same since Fri­day’s up­date. The for­est ser­vice says the fire sup­pres­sion re­pair phase is one of three phases when it comes to ad­dress­ing wild­fire re­cov­ery. Fire crews are keeping a close eye on “post-wild­fire threats” to peo­ple, prop­erty and nat­u­ral lands, ac­cord­ing to the for­est ser­vice.

“Progress has been made, we just haven’t in­creased con­tain­ment num­bers be­cause we want to make sure the con­tain­ment line is solid enough that we can def­i­nitely say the fire won’t jump it,” Raj Singh, spokesper­son for the Ferguson Fire uni­fied com­mand, said pre­vi­ously.

The air qual­ity in com­mu­ni­ties around Yosemite Na­tional Park that had reached haz­ardous lev­els has im­proved and is ex­pected to re­main at good to moder­ate for now.

The for­est ser­vice said 920 fire per­son­nel are still fight­ing the Ferguson Fire, which left two fire­fight­ers dead in its wake. Dur­ing the fire’s peak, there were nearly 4,000 per­son­nel as­signed to the op­er­a­tion.

The for­est ser­vice says more work is still needed even af­ter fire crews fully ex­tin­guish the fire, in­clud­ing im­prov­ing firedam­aged lands that likely won’t re­cover from the fire on their own.

The ex­pected date for full con­tain­ment of the Ferguson Fire re­mains Aug. 22 and up un­til Fri­day has cost $116 mil­lion to fight. There is still no cost avail­able for the 10 build­ings that were de­stroyed by the blaze.

The cause re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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