NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 24, 2013

Huge Calif. wildfire spreads into Yosemite

(Continued)

“We don’t have anybody we know of in that area based on the permits we have out now,” she said.

The fire was more than 20 miles from Yosemite Valley and skies there were “crystal clear,” Cobb said.

The spectacular valley carved by glaciers offers visitors such iconic sights as the Half Dome and El Capitan rock formations and Bridalveil and Yosemite falls.

“Right now there are no closures and no visitor services are being affected in the park,” Cobb said. “We just have to take one day at a time depending on fire activity.”

Officials also have advised voluntary evacuations of more than a thousand other homes, several organized camps and at least two campgrounds in the area outside the park’s boundary. More homes, businesses and hotels are threatened in nearby Groveland, a community of 600 about 5 miles from the fire and 25 miles from the entrance of Yosemite.

“Usually during summer, it’s swamped with tourists, you can’t find parking downtown,” said Christina Wilkinson, who runs Groveland’s social media page and lives in Pine Mountain Lake. “Now, the streets are empty. All we see is firefighters, emergency personnel and fire trucks.”

Many area businesses have closed and people who had vacation rental homes have cancelled plans, local business owners said.

“This fire, it’s killing our financial picture,” said Corinna Loh, whose family owns the still-open historic Iron Door Saloon and Grill in Groveland. “This is our high season and it has gone to nothing, we’re really hurting.”

Loh said most of her employees have left town. And the family’s Spinning Wheel Ranch, where they rent cabins to tourists, has also been evacuated because it’s directly in the line of fire. Two outbuildings have burned at the ranch, Loh said, and she still has no word whether the house and cabins survived.

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