Yosemite reopens to tourists, but Oakhurst still impacted

OAKHURST, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Yosemite Valley has reopened to tourists, and the Ferguson Fire, which has burned nearly 98,000 acres, is 87 percent contained.

Still, the fire is impacting the Oakhurst community as the Highway 41 route into the Yosemite Valley remains closed indefinitely for firefighting activity along Wawona Road.

Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce employees says the area is seeing a more than $10 million loss, and with the south gate to Yosemite closed, that number will just keep going up.

That's impacting businesses in the area like Idle Hour Winery.

Anna Marie Dos Remedios says she has seen few guests walked through the doors since the fire first closed parts of the park three weeks ago.

"We normally save money during the summer to save for winter. We are not sure what we are going to do right now."

Melanie Barker with the Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce says businesses are trying to promote the mountain area to visitors, while also thinking ahead.

"What we're really looking forward for for our businesses is that shoulder season. That's septemeber to november..and how we can bring tourists back for that time."

The Ferguson Fire is inching closer to full containment, but fire officials say some smoke could stay in the area.

Yosemite Unified School District officials say classes start on Thursday, and the air quality is something the they're watching closely.

Interim superintendent Mike Berg said, "It has been pretty smoky up here. You can see it and smell it. On those days, we have protocals in place depending on the air quality index, we will keep kids inside."

It is still not clear when Highway 41 into Yosemite Valley will reopen.

For now, businesses say they're just hoping locals decide to stop by the area.

"I am just thankful harvest is approaching, and the park is open, and hopefully we will see and influx of people coming back," said Anna Marie Dos Remedios.

Fire officials have not yet given the cause of the fire.

Bass lake and the Mariposa Grove of Sequioas is accessible through Highway 41.
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