More evacuations ordered

Written by Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat August 20, 2013 03:08 pm

More Groveland area residents and property owners are facing evacuation notices as the growing Rim Fire continues to burn along the Highway 120 corridor.

 

Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Scott Johnson said residents along Ferretti Road from the Highway 120 to Clements Road are under evacuation advisory this afternoon. While that doesn’t mean mandatory evacuation, Johnson said people living near the fire line are being told to have belongings together in case they have to “leave at a moments notice.”

County transit buses are being used to help move some of the residents who want to leave the area, which is west of the large wildfire that started on Saturday.

“They’re working in there,” Johnson said of the hundreds of wildland firefighters trying to gain control of the fire. “It is pretty close to the fire break line.”

As crews battle the fire growing out of the Tuolumne River Canyon, Tuolumne County officials have declared the area affected by the Rim Fire a local state of emergency.

The county Board of Supervisors voted this morning on the declaration, which could begin the process of seeking state or federal relief for the fire that is currently blazing out of control in the Stanislaus National Forest east of Groveland.

Jerry Snyder, a spokesman for the National Forest Service, said this morning that that fire had consumed more than 11,000 acres as of 9 a.m. The fire, which originated in the Clavey River canyon near the Tuolumne River, jumped the Tuolumne River and Highway 120 yesterday leading to evacuations of hundreds of residents, businesses and visitors in the Buck Meadows area. The fire had also destroyed two buildings as of this morning.

Snyder said the weather could play a factor today and tomorrow as thunderstorms could bring lightning and erratic winds to the area of the fire. He said those storms until now have been largely limited to the Sierra crest, but could move to lower elevations which would complicated an already difficult effort taking place in steep terrain.

“Things are setting up pretty poorly,” he said.

The fire had no containment as of this morning, and the northern entrance of Yosemite National Park was closed. Highway 120 is closed indefinitely from four miles west of Groveland Ranger Station and four miles east of Buck Meadows, according to the Forest Service.

Officials with the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System also announced today that the system’s Highway 120 busses were suspended indefinitely.

Access to the Hetch Hetchy area of Yosemite National Park is also closed for precautionary reasons, according to park officials.