Smoke building over Yosemite as South Fork Fire continues to encroach on Wawona

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What used to be a bird's eye of view of Wawona is covered in heavy smoke Wednesday. (KFSN)

What used to be a bird's eye of view of Wawona is covered in heavy smoke Wednesday. The town crowded into the community center to hear when the haze will clear.

"The first couple of nights I was pretty worried because the fire behavior was a lot more intense," said Anne Kelly, UC Merced.

Kelly oversees researchers who come to Yosemite to study the land. By Wednesday, everyone had emptied out of the cabins leaving just her behind.

"I have packed up all my important stuff and gotten it out and I'm kinda sleeping in an empty house, you know, just in case."

The fire started Sunday on the South Fork of the Merced River. Since then, it has spread more than 2,000 acres. Firefighters said their primary focus is making sure the flames go north and don't come towards town.

Incident Commander Darren Mills said, "We are trying to guide the fire deeper into the wilderness, where we have a lot of rock outcroppings and a lot more natural barriers that will check the fire on its own."

The retardant lines are holding, and on Thursday crews will strengthen those boundaries more, by burning an area of 50 to 100 acres. The chance of evacuations remains low-it is air quality that's the most concerning.

"Monitoring it today, it was way into the hazardous zone this morning and it's stayed there most of the morning," said Kelly.

Firefighters said the levels are likely to get worse before they improve-- a fire, where the air, not the flames, are already driving some people out.

Related Topics:
wildfireyosemite national parkmariposa countyYosemite National ParkWawona
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