Kings Canyon, Yosemite parks reopen as air quality improves

California Connection

This photo provided by Chuck Bennett shows smoke from the Creek Fire filling the air in Yosemite Valley bringing visibility to the point where the canyon walls were not visible or the sun on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. The National Park Service closed Yosemite National Park on Thursday for air quality concerns. (Chuck Bennett via AP)

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — Kings Canyon National Park reopened to visitors on Wednesday and Yosemite National Park will welcome back visitors on Friday as air quality improves.

Both parks closed last Thursday when smoke from the sixth-largest wildfire in recorded California history created hazardous air quality.

Park officials said air quality is projected to be in the moderate to unhealthy range for sensitive groups over the next few days.

Yosemite will reopen visitor services in stages throughout the weekend and portions of the park may intermittently close if smoke affects the air quality, park spokeswoman Jamie Richards said.

The Creek Fire, burning in the Sierra National Forest since Sept. 4, has devoured 452 square miles (1172 square kilometers) and destroyed 855 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It is 32% contained.

Sequoia National Park, immediately to the south of Kings Canyon, remains closed. The park is threatened by the SQF Complex of fires ignited by lightning in the Sequoia National Forest.

Burning since Aug. 19, the complex has scorched more than 225 square miles (585 square kilometers) of forest and was 33% contained Wednesday. The fire has destroyed 191 structures and threatens nearly 3,200 others.

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