El Portal Fire forest closures

Craig Cassidy, The Union Democrat /

Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski declared a forest closure of the El Portal Fire area.

Tree snags and burning vegetation in the area present unsafe conditions for the public, she said in a statement declaring the closure, signed on Friday. Fire personnel also need access to the area unhindered, she said.

The closure's west border follows Ned's Gulch Creek, from south of the Merced Sequoia grove and Crane Flat campground down to the Merced River. The northeast corner of the closure reaches to Crane Creek. Crane Creek remains outside the closure, but the closure encompasses most of Little Crane Creek. Highway 140 serves as the southern border for most of the closure area, from Ned's Gulch Creek to just east of El Portal.

The closure will remain in effect until the fire is considered "out," Skalski said. That does not mean 100 percent containment, as the fire will continue to burn inside the perimeter.

The only people exempt from the closure are fire or rescue personnel and those with a permit specifically for the closure. Violating the order could lead to a $5,000 fine for individuals and $10,000 fine for organizations, imprisonment for up to six months, or both.

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