New mandatory evacuation ordered due to Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County

See the latest map of the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park has charred thousands of acres in the Mariposa County foothills and as of Monday night. More firefighters are headed in to battle the flames at a time when CAL FIRE crews must also pause for a somber task.

The Ferguson Fire has been burning in Mariposa County since Friday night along Highway 140 between Mariposa and Yosemite National Park. The treacherous mountain landscape, along with intense heat is posing serious challenges in the firefight.

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On Monday, crews went in and recovered the body of dozier operator Braden Varney. He was killed on Saturday morning when his machine overturned while he was trying to cut a fire line in steep terrain. Up until Monday afternoon, fast-moving flames have kept fire crews from the scene.

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Alex Olow with the Sierra National Forest said, "It's very hot this time of year, and especially now, we've been in triple digits the last week, and it's seemingly not ending. That with steep and dangerous terrain makes it difficult for firefighters."

At this time more than 100 structures remain threatened, and mandatory evacuations are now in effect for the Jerseydale area and along Incline Road from Clearing House to the Foresta Bridge. People living in Mariposa Pines, Cedar Lodge, Savages Trading Post, and Clearing House are also evacuated.

Firefighting efforts were hampered Monday by the weather. An inversion layer trapped the smoke in the area, preventing air attack and observation.

A community meeting will be held on Tuesday at Wasuma Elementary School. Fire and law enforcement officials say, starting at 6 pm, they will discuss the current fire situation and answer any questions.

Meanwhile, Highway 140 remains closed north of Mariposa into Yosemite National Park. This comes at a time when lengthy road construction projects are also starting on Highway 41, the park's southernmost entrance out of the Oakhurst area.

Residents in that mountain community are reporting heavy smoke and falling ash.

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