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Evacuations remain in place for 4,000 acre Ferguson Fire, roads closed west of Yosemite

Fire crews battle the Ferguson Fire along Highway 140 in Mariposa County

Fire crews battle the Ferguson Fire in steep terrain behind the Redbud Lodge along Highway 140 in Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday, July 14, 2018.
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Fire crews battle the Ferguson Fire in steep terrain behind the Redbud Lodge along Highway 140 in Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday, July 14, 2018.

The Ferguson Fire was reported to have burned 4,000 acres as of 8:30 a.m. Sunday, at 2 percent containment and with 500 personnel battling the growing blaze.

More than 50 people were evacuated early Saturday from the area where the fire is burning, just west of Yosemite National Park, a Sierra National Forest spokesman. Those evacuations remained in place Sunday morning.

Around 50 tourists near Savage Trading Post, as well as residents of a nearby home were under mandatory evacuation early Saturday morning. The Red Bud Inn was added later Saturday morning to the mandatory evacuation list, the Sierra National Forest said.

Evacuations areas in effect as of Sunday morning are Briceburg to Cedar Lodge on Highway 140 and Mariposa Pines, north of Bear Clover.

Evacuation advisories are in place for the Jerseydale area and Yosemite West area.

Cal Fire said a firefighter died on the line Saturday morning. Heavy equipment operator Braden Varney from the Madera Mariposa Merced unit was killed, Cal Fire said. About 200 personnel are on scene.

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The Ferguson Fire also caused officials to close Highway 140 between mile marker 137 and Yosemite Lodge, according to SNF spokesman Alex Olow. Yosemite National Park visitors can still use Highway 41 and 120 to enter and leave the park.

U.S. Forest Service fire Capt. Mike Seymour said the combination of high temperatures and steep terrain is making it difficult for fire crews to fight the fire. Thunderstorms in the area and wind have also given firefighters unfavorable conditions to work in, Seymour added.

The fire began near Highway 140 and Hite Cove, in the Merced River canyon near El Portal in Mariposa County. It ignited around 10:35 p.m. Friday and had grown to 1,000 acres with 5 percent containment, according to the latest official update provided at 10 p.m. Saturday by the Sierra National Forest.

Power lines in the canyon that provide electric power to Yosemite Valley have been turned off for the safety of firefighters, said park spokeswoman Jamie Richards. The park remains open, but there is no estimate of when the power will be restored.

Firefighters worked throughout the night in steep and difficult terrain, Olow said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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