BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Yosemite National Park is officially reopen after closing for nearly three weeks following safety concerns for tourist in light of the Ferguson wildfire that’s still burning as of Tuesday.
The fire has burned over 96,000 acres of land near the Yosemite National Park since July. However, fire crews managed to free up some of the roadways over the past two weeks to safely reopen the valley to the public Tuesday.
Even though park and fire officials said the fire is not fully contained the valley is now safe for visitors.
“It’s already been a pretty busy morning at the park we opened the gate at nine a.m. this morning. We see a lot of people who have come out already we expect more to come this afternoon it’s going to be a very busy day,” Yosemite National Park Ranger Jamie Richardson said.
Beautiful views captured the eye of many from the Tunnel View look out point at the Yosemite National Park, “It’s pretty unique because coming here I would expect it to be pretty clear but it’s actually all fogged up so it makes it interesting,” visitor from Michigan Nina Capinpin said. Many visitors were also anticipating a post card image, “Normally as I said it looks like you are standing in front of a painting,” San Francisco resident Patrick Engler said.
However, the damages from the Ferguson fire made the trip disappointing for some with high expectations, “To be honest with you it’s kind of sad to see the smoke, it’s just a giant smoke screen because when I came here last time it was super clear it was super beautiful. You can see the fog and then the rest of the valley but now all you see is a massive gray,” Yosemite National Park visitor Ben Njuyen said.
Fire crews have been working since July to reopen the roadways to the Yosemite National Park, but now they are focusing on what’s left of the fire according to the Ferguson Fire Information Officer Shanelle Saunders, “We have some spots that their looking at it’s hottest area of the fire they are going to continue working on containment lines and really working on the hotspots with hand crews, engines, water tenders and aircraft.
Park officials also closed down the area due to unhealthy air in the area. Officials are still evaluating the financial impacts on the park as of Tesday and visitors we’re highly anticipating the reopening for a number of days, “This is the first time we’ve actually been able to get up here in a month. So I bring tourist from all over. Today I have people from Norway, I have people from Australia and we saw falls and it looked beautiful, but when I look at Tunnel View over here at least we can see El Capitan and I can see Cathedral Rocks which is a good thing,” Engler said.
While other visitors were just grateful for the opportunity to enter the park for the first time, "It’s actually our last day here so we’re really glad to that it was open on our last day. We were here, and we were like we have to go,” Capinpin said.
Fire crews will be in the area over the next several weeks to make sure that it is safe for all community members.