Mariposa · Wildfires

Highway 140 reopens as fire officials gain grip on Yosemite-based Oak Fire

July 27: Highway 140, a major artery connecting California to Yosemite National Park, was reopened late Tuesday night to traffic, as firefighters battling the Oak Fire in Mariposa County continue to increase containment.

CAL Fire reported containment of the blaze has ticked up to 32 percent of the coverage area, with total acres consumed inching 612 acres on the day, now at 18,715.

Despite slow growth and increased containment, the blaze is still inflicting damage in the area, with 74 total structures destroyed and another 9 damaged by the Oak Fire.

July 26: Thanks to slightly humid conditions in the Sierra foothills, firefighters managed to gain a foothold against the Oak Fire, upping containment of the blaze to 26 percent, a Tuesday morning announcement from fire officials read.

Despite that, the blaze continued to canopy out overnight, with the fire now reaching 18,087 acres consumed.

Thus far, 41 residential and commercial structures are reported as being destroyed by the blaze. Another three structures have been damaged, CAL Fire reported.

July 25: While a cast of thousands of firefighters battle a four-day-old blaze in the Mariposa foothills mere miles from the entrance of Yosemite National Park, officials announced Monday morning that the Oak Fire is 10 percent contained.

Despite that, total acreage consumed jumped another 1,188 overnight to a total affected area of 16,791 acres.

Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County over the intense blaze. A few hours later, California secured additional funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to access resources to suppress the fire.

July 24: A wildfire ignited near Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County on Friday is, once again, threatening the area and forcing evacuations for residents in the mountainous communities in the Sierra foothills.

The blaze, dubbed the Oak Fire by firefighting officials, ignited near Midpines, roughly 20 miles south of the El Portal gateway of Yosemite.

A perfect storm of conditions, soaring temperatures and low humidity, allowed for rapid spread.

Friday night, Cal Fire officials tabbed the blaze at roughly 1,600 acres consumed.

The following evening, that figure ballooned to 11,900 acres. As of Sunday evening, the blaze sits at 15,603 acres.

It currently is threatening 2,693 structures in Mariposa, destroying 10 and damaging another five.

Thus far, 6,000 residents in Mariposa foothills have been ordered to evacuate their homes as the blaze continues to expand.

“The fire is moving quickly. This fire was throwing embers out in front of itself for up to two miles yesterday,” Sierra National Forest spokesperson Daniel Patterson said Saturday.

“These are exceptional fire conditions.” 

Thus far, firefighters from Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service have been unable to contain the blaze.

The fire forced the closure of Highway 140 between Carstens and Allred roads — a main route to the national park.

For its part, more than 2,600 customers of PG&E were reported as having no power on Friday. The utility had no estimate on restoration of power as it was unable to access its equipment in the area.

Les Hubbard is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.