Wildfire closes heart of Yosemite National Park for first time in decades

Authorities have closed the heart of Yosemite National Park, one of the nation’s most popular parks, as a fast-burning wildfire closes in during peak tourist season.

This is the first time a fire has closed down Yosemite Valley, the affected section of the Northern California park, since the 1990 A-Rock fire, which burned 17,770 acres, said Scott Gediman, a spokesman for Yosemite.

The current blaze, known as the Ferguson Fire, is about 2 miles away from the park, said Rich Eagan, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. Firefighters are focused on battling back flames that are moving toward the park’s western boundary, he said. The Ferguson Fire has scorched 36,587 acres since it began July 13. It is 25% contained, and 3,311 personnel had been dispatched to battle the blaze as of Tuesday morning. Nearly 3,500 structures are threatened. One firefighter has been killed and six have been injured.

The closure to Yosemite Valley will cut off access to the Half Dome, a well known rock formation. All hotels, campgrounds and visitor services located in the valley and in nearby Wawona are expected to be closed until Sunday. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias will also be closed.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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