Forest areas closed by fire

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat

The El Portal Fire was fully contained as of this morning at 4,689 acres, but a forest closure will keep the public out of much of the area until the fire is completely done burning.

The fire was only burning within the containment lines as of this morning. Crews today will continue to patrol and repair those lines. The fire had about 200 personnel as of this morning, according to Gary Wuchner, fire information officer for Yosemite National Park.

The Burned Area Emergency Response team will continue repairing bulldozer lines and reseeding the burned area with native grasses to reduce the potential for further damage from erosion, among other recovery efforts.

Fire management will be handed today from an elite federal "Type 1" team to local Type 3 teams in each the Stanislaus National Forest - for the El Portal Fire - and Yosemite National Park - for the Dark Hole Fire.

The unrelated Dark Hole Fire continued burning at 770 acres and 61 percent containment, as of Monday. It was caused by lightning.

Yosemite also has other small lightning fires: The Elbow Fire is 2 acres; the Cathedral Fire is a half acre; the Mount Starr King Fire is a half acre; and the Lembert Fire is a quarter acre. All were smoldering and creeping as of Monday.

Smoke continues to be an issue and children, senior citizens and those with health problems may want to leave the area, according to air quality officials.

The El Portal Fire's cause remains under investigation. The cost to fight it was $10 million as of Monday morning.

For the complete story, see the Aug. 5, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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