Caltrans: Highway 140 in Ferguson Fire burn scar reopens

MARIPOSA, Calif. (KFSN) -- UPDATE: Highway 140 in the Ferguson Fire burn scar area is reopened, according to Caltrans.

Below is the original story from an earlier broadcast.


Cars were being forced to turn around Wednesday as a portion of a major highway leading to Yosemite National Park is closed again for rain.

Thomas Lawrence with Caltrans says they weren't expecting to close Highway 140 today. That changed when crews received a weather update Wednesday morning, "They wanted to get it closed as quick as they could."

Caltrans crews quickly got to work, and by 1 pm, at least 17 miles of the highway stretching from Midpines to El Portal closed.

"We have crews patrolling to make sure there aren't folks on the roadway and that the roadway itself is safe," said Lawrence.

With such short notice, Some Mariposa High School students that live in El Portal or Yosemite were bussed to their homes before the closure.

"We have two bus runs, and it takes about an hour for those bus runs," said Robin Hopper of the Mariposa Co. Unified School District. "They'll be escorted as well, with a snow plow, to the student's homes, and their drop-offs, just in case there is any debris or anything, so they're safe."

The Mariposa County foothills are under a flash flood watch until Thursday morning, because of the risk of mudslides along the Ferguson Fire burn scar.

Some parts of the county already saw extreme flash floods over the weekend, which led to some damaged roads. A homeowner captured video of rushing water from the front of his home.

RELATED: Mariposa County residents reel in from weekend floods, brace for next storm

Sheriff Doug Binnewies says deputies will also be patrolling areas that are prone to flooding.

"We have had deaths in the county in the past, a couple last year which were tragedies."

Binnewies hopes the video serves as a warning to the dangers of flash floods.

"We really urge people not to risk it, don't cross flooded roadways. It's amazing the power of moving water. It can move your car very quickly and puts you in a serious situation."

Caltrans crews have been removing trees and replacing culverts in hopes of preventing mudslides.

Lawrence says when the highway will reopen, depends on what comes down, "There is debris if there are mudslides. Every storm is different. Every storm is unique."
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