Wildfire Near Yosemite Balloons to 2,100 Acres, Forces Road Closures


Residents in the towns of Old El Portal and Foresta have been ordered to evacuate their homes{}due to the El Portal Fire.

Several campgrounds within Yosemite are also being evacuated. The Crane Flat campground was evacuated Saturday night. On Sunday morning, people staying in the Bridalveil Creek and Yosemite Creek campgrounds were being evacuated.

Officials say that Big Oak Flat Road is now closed between Highway 120 and the Yosemite Valley.

By Sunday night, a Type 1 federal management team is expected to take over command of the fire from Yosemite and Stanislaus Forest Service crews.

A wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park continues to burn out of control, leading to road closures and evaucations.

The fire started Saturday around 4:30 p.m. and as of 10:00 p.m., it covers 2,100 acres.

It is burning north of the community of El Portal, in the Merced River Canyon.

So far, Highway 120 is closed between Crane Flat and the Highway 120/140 junction. The Madera County Sheriff's Department is asking people to avoid both Highway 120 and 140, and use Highway 41 to get in and out of the park.

The U.S. Forest Service reports that the fire has destroyed some buildings, but at this point, it's not clear how many.

Evacuations had been{}ordered Saturday afternoon from the town of Foresta, east of El Portal. Evacuation centers have been set up at Tenaya Lodge and Groveland Community Center.

The fire is reportedly{}moving in a North and East direction.

KMPH Fox 26 News Chief Meteorologist Kevan Ramer was near Yosemite Saturday, and says some people visiting the national park complained they were stranded, and could not return to their hotels as a result of the fire. {}

It is still not clear how the fire started. Earlier in the week,{} the National Parks Service reported that Yosemite National Park had 3,000 lightning strikes in a ten-day span. This started 21 fires.

Late Saturday night, the Portal{}fire was upgraded and, as a result, more resources will be sent to the area. Air crews are already helping with the fire, and more are expected to arrive throughout the evening.

Stay with KMPH Fox 26 News and for the latest on the El Portal Fire.