YOSEMITE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Washburn Fire burning inside Yosemite National Park has already consumed over 2,000 acres and crews trying to control the flames are working to keep the flames away from some of the area’s most well-known landmarks.
The Washburn Fire is burning on the south side of Yosemite National Park, near the Highway 41 entrance. That is very close to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and one of the immediate concerns for crews was to ensure that the ancient trees did not catch fire. The grove is one of the most-visited spots in Yosemite, with 500 Giant Sequoias standing tall. Some of the trees there are 2,000 years old.
Crews on the ground Monday morning said they were trying to limit the fire’s spread in Mariposa Grove. According to an update posted by Yosemite Fire and Aviation Management, they weren’t wrapping the trees to protect them from flames, but they were using a ground-based sprinkler system to increase the humidity and ultimately decrease the risk of ground fire.
Work continues to ensure that the Washburn Fire does not eat into nearby vegetation. Mariposa Grove is considered the “heel” of the fire and that is described as holding well.
In an update posted Monday, Yosemite Fire and Aviation Management said crews continued to build fire lines to attempt to control the fire and stop it from spreading.
The objective is to stop the Washburn Fire from spreading to Wawona. While the area is best known for the Wawona Hotel, there are also communities and residences in the area, including a general store, a history center and the Pioneer Yosemite Campground Reservation.
According to Operations Section Chief Matt Ahearn, crews are also considering the potential impact to the cabins there, which date back to the early 1900s (their approximate location is pointed out in the image above).
“We established a contingency group [Monday],” said Ahearn. “They’re going to start assessing road systems south of the park boundary and they’re getting intel and they’re going to start looking at the Biledo Cabin and preparing that structure if anything advances over the ridge system.”
The smoke created by the Washburn Fire is also being blown north towards Monterey, San Jose and San Francisco.