MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) --A large wildfire burning on the western edge of Yosemite National Park has destroyed at least one structure in the community of Foresta and is still threatening an unknown number of others.
The El Portal Fire has burned more than 2,600 acres. The U.S. Forest Service reported 5 percent containment early Monday. About 90 percent of the land that has burned is in the Stanislaus National Forest, but some areas in and around Yosemite remain under evacuation orders.
Nearly 600 firefighters are battling the blaze during the driest year on record in Yosemite. Pair that to the steep, rocky terrain and over 100 degree temperatures and these crews are looking at an uphill battle. Fixed winged tankers and helicopters are also being used to help fight the flames during daylight hours.
Structures are still threatened, and strike teams have been stationed at residences to protect them, according to the National Park Service (NPS).
"Our biggest concern is the protection of people and structures, and that's what we're focusing on right now, and we'll assess the burn area when it's over," said Scott Gediman, Yosemite's public affairs officer.
Gediman says the fire started in the late afternoon Saturday. There is no word yet on what sparked the fire, but it's burning in an area that is still recovering from another fire in 2009.
"Our focus is purely on initial attack, and we are 100 percent committed to suppressing this fire as quickly as possible," said Gediman.
Families in Foresta had less than an hour's notice to pack up and evacuate. At least 40 homes in Foresta and 60 homes in the community of El Portal have been evacuated to Red Cross shelters. The shelters were set up at the following locations, but the Red Cross says they closed at 5 p.m. Sunday:
1122 Highway 41
Groveland Community Shelter
18583 Main Street
There is a community briefing Monday night at 6 p.m. at the El Portal School- 9670 Rancheria Flat Road, El Portal, CA
The resource center at Tenaya Lodge is scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. Monday. Fire officials say they don't anticipate lifting the evacuation orders anytime soon. However, the NPS says it hopes to lift the orders by midweek.
The Big Oak Flat Road is closed between Crane Flat south to the Highway 140 Junction. This is a hard closure until further notice for the public, employees and residents. Tioga Pass Road, Hwy 41 and Hwy 140 remain open.
NOTE: Use Highway 140 or Highway 41 to access Yosemite Valley. Use Highway 120 (north park entrance) to access Tuolumne Meadow and Tioga Pass area. Big Oak Flat Road connects Yosemite Valley to HWY 120 -- this road is closed. Yosemite Valley visitors wishing to access Tioga Pass, or other areas on Highway 120, will have to exit the park and re-enter on the Highway 120 entrance.
The Crane Flat and Yosemite Creek campgrounds are temporarily closed. Bridalveil Campground is being used for fire operations.
Anyone with questions about the El Portal Fire is asked to call (209) 372-0329 or (209) 372-0328.