Wawona residents nervous as wildfire burns near community

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A wildfire in Yosemite National Park is now less than one mile away from the community of Wawona. The South Fork Fire has burned more than 3,400 acres and is 10 percent contained. (KFSN)

A wildfire in Yosemite National Park is now less than one mile away from the community of Wawona. The South Fork Fire has burned more than 3,400 acres and is 10 percent contained.

Park officials say the fire is now about a quarter-mile from the Wawona area, which prompted evacuated orders a few days ago. Several homeowners are now at Tenaya Lodge where the Red Cross opened a shelter, hoping their home is still standing when they return.

A smoky haze is still blocking the sun hours after an eclipse while more than 700 crews are quickly working to control the fire in Yosemite. The blaze has burned more than 3,400 acres and is dangerously close to the community of Wawona.

"We're working hard," park ranger Jaime Richards said. "All our crews are putting their efforts to protect the western flank of the fire to protect the community of Wawona, which is a quarter-mile east of where the fire is burning."

Several aircrews are quickly working to drop retardant on the fire. Park officials say erratic winds from the weekend storms caused another spot fire nearby.

The Wawona community is now silent after people inside hundreds of structures were forced to evacuate on Saturday. Diane Martin says she was ordered to leave her home on Saturday and is now staying at the Red Cross Shelter.

Martin lives in Wawona year round. She and her husband moved to the area 25 years ago and own a property management company. Now, Martin is hoping her home and business are still there when she returns.

"It's just very difficult thinking about not being able to come back to my home and my business and losing everything," she said. "I've never been through something so difficult."

Both residents and guests are being impacted, and the Big Trees Lodge was also evacuated. Park officials say crews are working on controlling the western part of the fire closest to Wawona.

"The community of Wawona is not under immediate threat right now, however, we want to make sure everyone is out of here in case something changes," Richards said.

Back at the shelter, homeowners are hoping for the best and concerned for the worst.

"Everybody is fearful and frightened and concerned about losing their homes," Martin said.

Park officials say the fire line between the blaze and the small community is holding up, but it's something they're still monitoring closely.

The park is still open, however, and the Bridalveil Campground is still closed while the shuttle from the Yosemite Ski area to Glacier Point is not in service at this time.

Related Topics:
yosemite national parkwildfireYosemite National Park
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