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Ferguson Fire containment advancing, but plans for the future are taking place

Forest Service crews work to clear brush along Highway 41 in Yosemite National Park

Crews work to clear brush along Highway 41 in Yosemite National Park on Saturday, July 28, 2018. According to U.S. Forest Service Public Information Officer Tim Jones, the Ferguson Fire has consumed 49,619 acres and is 29 percent contained.
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Crews work to clear brush along Highway 41 in Yosemite National Park on Saturday, July 28, 2018. According to U.S. Forest Service Public Information Officer Tim Jones, the Ferguson Fire has consumed 49,619 acres and is 29 percent contained.

Firefighters battling the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park advanced containment of the blaze to 39 percent Wednesday, prompting the first look into the possible restoration of the destroyed wildlife.

Natasha Fouts-Noble, spokesperson for CalFire, said U.S. Forest Service resource advisors began visiting containment lines to see what, if anything, can be done to recover what has been lost.

“The way they see it is, ‘How can we restore this land so our grandchildren can see it the way we saw it?’ ” Fouts-Noble said.

Ideas from resource advisors included water bars, which help the spreading of water along containment lines, and keeping vegetation in its natural habitat, Fouts-Noble said.

The progress has been made along Highway 41 between the Wawona Campground and Yosemite West, where a containment line is partially completed. Fouts-Noble said the goal is to eventually connect that containment line to the one on Chowchilla Mountain Road. That connection could be made within the next 24 hours and could bring containment to over 40 percent.

“That’s our main goal. Once we those two lines connected, we can really start to focus on the north,” Fouts-Noble said.

In the northern part of the fire in the Stanislaus National Forest, officials hope to connect two containment lines near Merced Grove, but steep terrain and unpredictable weather have made that process all the more strenuous.

The closure of Yosemite Valley, Wawona Road, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias, Hetch Hetchy, and other areas was extended through Aug. 5, the forest service said Wednesday.

In the Stanislaus National Forrest, officials closed several roads and trails in the Groveland Ranger District, from Ferguson Ridge in the South to Pilot Ridge in the north. The closure is expect to continue until Sept. 30.

A total of 3,558 firefighters are working to suppress the fire. There have been two deaths on the fire lines and nine others have been injured.

Wednesday marked the second day in a row where resources for the fire have decreased, but Fouts-Noble said there are still more than enough resources in place to fight the blaze.

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