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Washburn Fire: Yosemite’s Highway 41 entrance closed, Wawona evacuated, 703 acres charred

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Crews are battling a wildfire that has shut down part of Yosemite National Park and shut down Highway 41’s entrance to the park.

The Washburn Fire is spreading quickly near the lower Mariposa Grove and has burned 703 acres as of 6:30 a.m. Saturday, growing by 237 acres overnight.

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for the community of Wawona and the Wawona Campground.

The Highway 41 entrance to the park is now closed, so people evacuating Wawona should head north to Yosemite Valley.

Shelter is available at Mariposa New Life Church, located at 5089 Cole Road.

Park officials say Mariposa Grove and Mariposa Grove Road are closed until further notice.

The fire sent smoke billowing into the skies over Yosemite on Friday, a sight visitors described as eerie. Many continued their vacations, but it was not the typical Yosemite experience.

“You go out here in nature to get away from the traffic and there are airplanes [and] helicopters flying by,” said Dennis and Shelly Farrington, who were visiting from Arizona.

Officials say the first call came in just after 2 a.m. Thursday.

Crews jumped into action with a full initial attack, working through the night.

On Thursday and Friday, hundreds of firefighters on the ground cut lines and planes in the air dropped retardant, all to contain the flames.

National Park Service crews were also out wrapping the towering Sequoia trees, hoping to protect them from the flames if the fire gets any closer.

Park officials warned drivers not to be distracted by the smoke.

“We have wildlife and we have people everywhere – just really watch the speed limits, look for firefighters, look for equipment, look for animals in the road and just be safe,” said Nancy Phillipe, Yosemite fire education specialist.

Authorities say the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Washburn Fire: Yosemite’s Highway 41 entrance closed, Wawona evacuated, 703 acres charred Source link Washburn Fire: Yosemite’s Highway 41 entrance closed, Wawona evacuated, 703 acres charred

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