This year's sure-to-be-dramatic fire season rages on with our next main event, the El Portal Fire at the western edge of Yosemite National Park and in Stanislaus National Forest. It began Saturday and has grown to 2,700 acres, threatening but mostly barely touching the communities of Old El Portal and Foresta, near the Highway 140 entrance to the park. So far 800 firefighters are on the scene, with more on the way, as the LA Times reports. And much like last year's record-busting Rim Fire, this one is burning dangerously close to an ancient grove of giant sequoias, the Merced Grove. Firefighters are hoping to cut the fire off before it gets there.
The El Portal Fire is burning just south of where the Rim Fire scorched over 370 square miles last summer, and has forced the closure of a section of Highway 120, which is the popular route into the park from the Bay Area, as the Chron reports.
The fire is only 5 percent contained, but some evacuated residents have been permitted home. One of the main hospitality management companies in the area was quick to post the below image of Half Dome, hoping tourists know that the park remains open and skies are somewhat clear, depending where you are. Several campsites are shut down, and over a dozen homes and several dozen outbuildings have been burned.
Firefighters are counting on cooler weather and a small chance of rain to help them contain the blaze and keep the El Portal Fire from becoming another Rim Fire which goes down as the third biggest wildfire in California history, and was sparked by one lone asshole's campfire.