YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Washburn fire in Yosemite National Park’s Mariposa Grove continues to burn, and has more than doubled in the last 24 hours.
Saturday morning, the fire was estimated to have burned 703 acres since it was discovered. An early morning update Sunday shows the fire has burned an additional 888 acres and has grown to 2,044 acres with 0% containment. There are currently 360 fire personnel working this fire in various capacities.
Fire officials say it was first reported on July 7th near the Washburn Trail in the Mariposa Grove area of the southern part of the park, subsequently forcing the closure of Wawona Road (Highway 41) from the south entrance to Henness Ridge Road.
The weather Sunday and Monday in the area is expected to be hotter and drier than the days before, and coupled with winds, could keep the fire moving and growing.
The general area of the fire is in rough terrain and filled with heavy fuels, including a significant number of dead standing and downed dead trees.
Fire crews are still trying to protect over 500 mature giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove by proactively removing both heavy fuels and finer fuels such as stems, branches, twigs, and trunks. Additionally, they say they are placing ground-based sprinklers to increase humidity around the majestic trees.
Yosemite West remains accessible from the northern side of Wawona Road. Mariposa Grove is closed until further notice. All other areas of Yosemite National Park are open via Highways 140 or 120.
Park representatives remind visitors that reservations are still required to enter the park. Park rangers advise that conditions are smoky within the park and visitors will experience longer wait times at the other entrance stations as the south entrance is closed.
The Red Cross of the Central Valley closed their evacuation shelter at New Life Church at 5089 Cole Road in Mariposa Saturday evening, but staff and volunteers remain on standby.
The cause of the fire has not been determined.