Firefighters near Yosemite National Park are racing to contain the deadly Ferguson Fire as hotter temperatures raise the danger for thousands of homes potentially in its path.
Six firefighters have already been injured and one killed battling the 51-square-mile fire, which is burning in rugged terrain near the national park’s west side. Multiple evacuation orders are in place for the small communities dotted through the area, and more residents are on evacuation alert.
Yosemite remains open, but one of its scenic routes, Glacier Point Road, was closed to the public to firefighters could travel more effectively. Nearly 3,500 structures — homes, stores, vacation lodges and power lines — are listed as threatened by the fire. Temperatures are expected to hit nearly 100 degrees every day this week.
“Weather forecasts are calling for hotter and drier air throughout the week as conditions align for critical and extreme fire weather in the coming days,” fire managers said in a Monday morning update. “The fire is 13% contained and one non-residential structure has been reported destroyed but dozens more have been saved because of the efforts of crews throughout the fire area.”
Firefighting airplanes and helicopters have been pounding the fire with retardant and water drops, and more than 3,000 firefighters are on the ground.
Experts say it’s possible the Ferguson Fire may eventually spread far enough north to reach the burn scar left by the 2013 Rim Fire, which scorched more than 400 square miles. The Rim Fire, one of California’s largest, burned into portions of the national park, and left behind terrain that is now far less likely to burn intensely, giving firefighters a better chance to control the flames.
The terrain where the fire is currently burning is so rugged it took firefighters several days to recover the body of firefighter Braden Varney, 36, a married father of two, who was killed when his bulldozer rolled over on July 14.
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