The Ferguson Fire Around Yosemite Is Now Fully Contained, But The Damage Is Massive
One of the defining stories stories of this summer has been the wildfires raging out in California and elsewhere in the western U.S. There hasn't been much good news on that front yet, but finally the weather and the firefighters' massive effort have combined to produce some. The Ferguson Fire burning around Yosemite is fully contained at this point — but it's still caused a huge amount of damage.
According to NBC News, the fire started burning on July 13, and since then it engulfed 96,901 acres of land. Some 3,000 firefighters worked on getting the fire under control, and two men lost their lives in that effort. Yosemite National Park posted a message on Twitter on Sunday to announce the fire's containment.
"The Ferguson Fire is now at 100% containment! Thank you to all of the firefighters for their hard work and dedication," the announcement read. "As some places continue to burn within the contained area, firefighters are still working. Please use caution when driving on park roads."
According to CNN, the park had to close several of its most popular areas for about three weeks due to danger from the fire. This included Yosemite Valley, where visitors can see El Capitan and Half Dome — two of the area's biggest tourist draws.
The reasoning for that, according to the BBC, wasn't that the fire was burning around those attractions, but instead that there was a lot of smoke coming into the area, making the air too dangerous to breathe. In another tweet announcing the reopening of the park, Yosemite announced that air quality was now back at a better level.
"Air quality in Yosemite has been good to moderate over the past several days and we're excited for everyone to be out and enjoying the park!" the park posted on Twitter on Sunday.
ABC7 News wrote that the fire is still burning in some places, but it's in a phase where the firefighters are now just monitoring it and cleaning up the damage. Besides the almost 100,000 acres that the fire burned through, it also destroyed 10 structures, and crews will have to clean up all of the trees that the fire caused to fall onto roads in the park.
In addition to the physical damage that the fire caused, Reuters reported that the park closures have had a significant effect on the region's economy. Most visitors come in the summer, and last summer the park's approximately 4.3 million visitors spent about $452 million total — much of it in the summer months. While there's no telling exactly how much revenue the fire caused the park to miss out on, it's clear that it's a significant amount.
According to CNN, the west isn't out of the woods yet when it comes to forest fires this summer. The Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest in California history, is still only 79 percent contained, and the Howe Ridge Fire currently has parts of Glacier National Park closed in Montana. While the fires in California are getting closer to containment, CNN reported that the Howe Ridge Fire may not be fully contained until November. When that's the situation, it's important to mark any good news that comes up — and that's exactly what's just come out of Yosemite National Park.