Deadly fire shuts down key route to Yosemite National Park

Firefighter dies while battling Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County

Mariposa firefighter dies battling Ferguson Fire near Yosemite | The Modesto Bee

A deadly wildfire burning along the western edge of California's Yosemite National Park more than doubled in size Monday, hampering what is normally a busy tourist season for the area. Steep terrain made containment a hard process, said Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynnette Round.

Near the OR border, firefighters are continuing to make progress on the Klamathon Fire, which is now 95 percent contained.

Cal Fire says Heavy Fire Equipment Operator Braden Varney was driving a bulldozer when he died Saturday. A GoFundMe account established to help his family had already raised almost $29,000 (of a $30,000 goal) in one day, with 211 pledges. As of 10:45 p.m. on Friday, the fire has closed State Route 140 between the Yosemite Bug Resort (located north of Midpines) and the Cedar Lodge (located west of El Portal).

Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean says Varney's body is in "precarious terrain" but that they hope to recover his body Monday.

The so-called Ferguson Fire, burning in Mariposa County about 70 miles northwest of Fresno, increased to 9,266 acres by Monday evening, up from about 4,000 acres on the previous day, fire officials said.

One is that the fire is burning in a tinderbox - an area that's filled with dry, dead trees that became infested with beetles during previous years of drought. He said that this year, tens of thousands more acres have burned in the state than last year. The husband, son, and father of two was on the fire line when the Ferguson Fire first broke out Friday night.

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A quickly spreading wildfire has led to the closure of one of the main access points into California's Yosemite National Park.

No cause of the fire has been released.

ODF says the Green Top Mountain fire is holding at roughly 100-125 acres.

Investigators were working to determine further circumstances surrounding Varney's death, but they believe he was working his way out of the fire area when he was killed, Koerperich said.

"Visitors who are sensitive to smoke should plan to limit any strenuous outdoor activities or plan to visit the park another time", the Yosemite National Park said on Twitter.

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