South Fork Fire evacuation orders lifted in Wawona, starting Wednesday

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Fire crews continue to battle the almost 4,000 acre wild fire burning in Yosemite. Evacuation orders from the South Fork Fire for the community of Wawona will be lifted for residents and employees starting Wednesday morning.

The fire started over a week ago and though families will be able to return home the fire is just 17% percent contained.

Fire crews say they are optimistic but travelers are still be effected. They said crews are making significant progress in fighting the South Fork Fire but with the Wawona area closed and residents still under evacuation orders Tuesday many travelers are uneasy having the redirect their plans.

Alex Nigl is from Austria. He’s visiting Yosemite on his first trip to the United States.

“We cant’ see very much because of the smoke,” he said.

The South Fork Fire redirected his hiking plans.

“We are a little bit sad because we can’t see the Sequoias,” said Nigl.

For Pat Zeabart this is the fist time she’s been back to the park since she was a child. But, the fire’s proximately changed her routes.

“We would have liked to have gone through Heritage Village and do some of the other things,” she said.

“I don’t think it really hit me until we woke up in the morning and there’s soot on the furniture and it certainly is more smokey,” she said.

Yosemite National Park Ranger Jamie Richards said the steep terrain causes difficultly for fire fighters but the weather has been on their side. 

“The fire is its primarily burning in ponderosa pines and oaks and sugar pines. We are working hard to get in to where the hot spots are and where the fire is burning in order to get our ground crews and air support where the fire is,” she said.

She said crews are working on the Southwest side of the fire lines closest to the Wawona community and they are optimistic the fire will calm and will ultimately prevent future fires in the area.

“Fire is a beneficial part to the landscape. We are going to create a buffer zone that will protect Wawona, protect Highway 41 into Yosemite Valley so if we did have another fire we would not have a catastrophic fire in this area,” said Richards.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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