Additional evacuation advisories were issued for the areas of Mill Creek and Cascade Creek on Wednesday as fire and emergency crews continued to grapple with the Donnell Fire, which has destroyed 55 structures.
On Wednesday evening, the U.S. Forest Service said in a press release that it had attained 4 percent containment of the now 17,914-acre fire, which ignited on Aug. 1 in a remote section of the Middle Fork Stanislaus River watershed.
Forest Service spokesperson Maria Benech could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, but the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office did issue additional evacuation advisories for the Mill Creek and Cascade Creek campgrounds, residence tracts in the area, and for Forest Service Roads 5N21 and 5N30.
The locations are south of Highway 108 and south of the Donnell Fire.
Mandatory evacuations remain in effect along Highway 108 from Eagle Meadow Road to Kennedy Meadows, including all residences and campgrounds and Eagle Meadow Road and the Clark Fork Road areas. Highway 108 is closed at Eagle Meadow Road from the west and at the top of Sonora Pass to the east. The Pacific Crest Trail has also been closed between Highway 108 and Highway 4.
On Tuesday, growth of the Donnell Fire was minimal due to an inversion layer over the area. Once the inversion lifted Wednesday fire activity increased, mostly in the Disaster Creek drainage, and south of Highway 108 towards the Bennett Juniper Tree.
As of Wednesday evening, the USFS had accounted for 81 minor structures destroyed. Almost all of the Dardanelle Resort off Highway 108 and cabin tracts surrounding the area. Some 220 structures are still threatened, and 563 personnel have been deployed to the fire.
Resources include seven hand crews, three helicopters, 34 engines, four dozers and four water tenders.
According to a Forest Service press release, structure protection and safety remains a top priority. Bulldozers and firefighters expanded containment lines on the south end of the fire, north of Forest Road 5N01, the press release stated.
As of Wednesday morning, the fire was burning north to the Carson Iceberg Wilderness between the Arnot Creek and Disaster Creek drainages and east to Eureka Valley. Kennedy Meadows, to the east of Eureka Valley, is under evacuation but has not been consumed by the fire as of Wednesday morning.
Containment was also expected to increase on the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County on Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, the fire was estimated at 94,992 acres and was at 68 percent containment.
Since the fire began July 13, several facilities and resources within Yosemite National Park have been closed or redirected. On Tuesday night, it was announced that evacuation orders would be lifted for the western portion of the park, allowing residents to return to their homes or communities.
Tioga Road is now open through the park, including the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, White Wolf Campground, Soda Spring, Tenaya Lake, and Lembert Dome. An entry point has been set up at Highway 41 at the south entrance to Yosemite National Park in Wawona.
Yosemite Valley remains closed indefinitely.
Before 3 p.m. Tuesday, command staff announced that all evacuations have been lifted for Anderson Valley/Old Yosemite Road in the Greeley Hill area, and Highway 140 and the El Portal area are now open with no restrictions. The 140-El Portal entrance to Yosemite remains closed.
In addition, Caltrans announced Tuesday that Yosemite National Park administrators and Ferguson Fire managers have reopened the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite on Highway 120, Tioga Road and Tioga Pass through the park.
Full containment of the Ferguson Fire is still hoped for by Aug. 15. Full containment of the Donnell Fire is now hoped for by Sept. 1.