Containment of the Ferguson Fire spiked again overnight, reaching 79 percent by Thursday, an 11 percent jump from the prior day, fire officials said.
By Thursday evening, the fire was reported at 80 percent containment.
Cheyenne Warner, spokesperson for the Ferguson Fire unified command, said the sudden jump in containment over the past two days is not as quick as it may seem.
“It takes some time for firefighters to check those lines and clean them up to make sure they are really completed,” Warner said, referring to debris on the lines that could potentially fuel the fire.
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The fire, which began July 13, has burned 95,104 acres and is nearly contained on all fronts, but still remains active in the northeastern portion, where officials will continue backfiring operations around Big Oak Tunnel and Badger Pass.
Backfiring is the process of intentionally starting a fire in an area, so there is no fuel for a wildfire to burn once it reaches that location.
There’s still a possibility the fire could move into the rim of Yosemite Valley if it continues to move north from those areas.
Warner said the backfiring operations in that area are crucial to getting the blaze fully contained. The containment on the west of the Big Oak Tunnel led Warner to believe operations had gone smoothly, so far. She said Aug. 15 remains the expected date for full containment of the fire.
Wednesday night crews began backfiring operations in Grouse Creek to prevent the fire from spreading across Wawona Road and further into the park.
Yosemite Valley, Wawona and the Mariposa and Merced groves of giant sequoias are among the locations in Yosemite National Park that remain indefinitely closed to visitors. Yosemite Valley and Wawona residents were allowed to return to their homes earlier this week.
Yosemite Valley is one of two areas still under mandatory evacuation, with the other being Foresta. Foresta residents and employees were allowed to return 8 a.m. Monday.
The gateway communities of Yosemite National Park and the park itself have been impacted financially by the park’s closure during “the busiest time of the year,” said Scott Gediman, spokesperson for Yosemite National Park.
In an effort to showcase what the gateway communities have to offer to prospective visitors, Mariposa will be hosting its second Mariposa Summer Fun Street Fair from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday.
“This event has become the opportunity for our community to come together, support each other and as a collective, showcase we are open for business and welcome visitors to come have a good time while helping our town begin recovery from this setback,” Laura Wattles, communications manager for the Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau, said via email.
Local businesses will be transformed into street vendors for the event and the National Park Service will be there to provide information. Last year, this same event was organized as a response to the Detwiler Fire, which burned 81,826 acres and destroyed over 120 structures.
As containment on the fire grows, fire officials have begun restoration attempts in wildlife areas that were altered by the Ferguson Fire suppression efforts.
A total of 1,532 personnel are fighting the Ferguson Fire.
Two firefighters have died fighting the blaze, while another 13 have been injured.
Brian Hughes, who was killed by a falling tree, will be remembered in his hometown of Hilo, Hawaii on Sunday. A procession will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hilo Yacht Club.
A procession for Hughes took place in Fresno on Aug. 4.
The Ferguson Fire is one of two active fires to have caused deaths, the other is the Carr Fire in Redding. The latter has proved to be more deadly, causing a total of eight deaths. The latest occurred this morning when Cal Fire reported that one of their mechanics died in a car crash.
Firefighters all across California are battling over a dozen fires, one of which — the Mendocino Complex Fire — is the largest in the history of the state.