Due to a large wildfire that’s been blazing near Yosemite National Park, disappointed tourists were ordered to vacate Yosemite by noon on Wednesday, July 25th. Yosemite Valley will be closed until at least Sunday, July 29th while firefighters battle the flames. The valley is currently under siege by a haze of smoke from the fires, obscuring the mountain and waterfall views, and creating unhealthy air quality conditions.
Over a thousand hotel bookings and campground reservations have been cancelled on account of the fire. Campers were visited individually by park rangers with evacuation orders, while hotel guests received calls and notes from hotel staff ordering them to leave. The evacuation decision is costing Yosemite valuable tourism money. “This is the prime visitor season, so this wasn’t an easy decision to make,” Yosemite spokesperson Scott Gediman told the Associated Press.
While inconvenient for visitors, the evacuations will allow firefighters to preemptively burn brush and take other measures against the blaze, without worrying about the safety of guests. Over 3,300 firefighters and 16 helicopters have been dispatched to fight the wildfire. Burning for nearly two weeks now, it has already destroyed 57 miles of wooded area and killed one firefighter.
Park officials are assisting evacuated visitors with alternate vacation plans, directing them to nearby Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.