Parts of Yosemite National Park closed due to Ferguson Fire

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KFSN) -- The gates of Yosemite National Park, typically abuzz with activity during the summer, were eerily quiet Wednesday.

All visitors were forced to leave the park by Wednesday at noon.

Vivek Vishal and his family came from Texas and planned to stay until Thursday, but as the deadly Ferguson Fire inches closer, they now have to make new plans.

"They closed Half Dome Village yesterday, and they said they were going to close the (Yosemite Valley Lodge) by 12 so everyone was to leave the park by 12."

RELATED: Ferguson Fire continues to grow, Yosemite National Park guests evacuated

Park rangers and CAL FIRE officials announced the portion of Highway 41 stretching from Wawona to the Yosemite Valley floor would close by Wednesday afternoon.

Hotels and campgrounds also shut down.

Fire crews from all over the state are going to be back burning and setting up fire breaks along Highway 41 as the Ferguson Fire moves closer to homes near Yosemite West.

Visitors are left wondering what to do now.

The nearby mountain communities that thrive on tourism are also feeling the burn from the closure.

Therese Williams of the Madera Co. Visitors Center said, "The biggest impacts are the cancellations. It's definitely quieter."

Kathrin Poetter with the Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp says 25% of the guests have either canceled or checked out early, mainly because of the heavy smoke and falling ash.

"We are very dependent on tourism like the rest of the community, this is our peak season. We have a lot of international guests that have planned their route thru California to experience Yosemite National Park. It is sad the air is impacting their visit."

Vishal says while he understands it for safety reasons, the closure is still disappointing.

"You travel all the way, and you don't come to these parks all the time. Its like once or twice a year, this is one of the good ones."

Hotels, like the Tenaya Lodge, remain open and guests are taking advantage of the pools and spas.

Some are re-routing and plan to come back and visit the iconic park when the smoke clears.

The closure will last until Sunday. At that point, park rangers and fire crews will determine whether the area is safe enough to reopen.

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