Firefighter died in bulldozer near Yosemite

Frederick Owens
July 19, 2018

Varney worked through the night and was driving the bulldozer to cut a firebreak to keep the fire from extending into a nearby community, according to fire chief Nancy Koerperich. He could not say whether the accident occurred in darkness or daylight, but he said it was not unusual for bulldozer operators to work in darkness.

United States wildfires have already burned more than 3.3million acres this year, which is more than the year-to-date average of about 3million acres in the past 10 years. "When the needles fall, that puts fuel on the ground, pushing the fire through", said Heather Williams, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. He said they will try again Monday. Officials had said his body was in a precarious location and conditions had been too unsafe to retrieve it.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District urged people with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people to stay in air-conditioned buildings. Cal Fire spokesman Brad Bihun said that crews expect the fire to stay in its perimeter as suppression crews move in to douse hot spots. There will be a procession into the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office. It's possible to use alternate access points, like Highway 41, however park representatives say visitors should expect larger crowds and lengthier wait times through the south entrance.

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A university climate scientist has a dire prediction for the seven square-mile wildfire burning just west of California's Yosemite National Park, reports CBS Spokane, Washington affiliate KREM-TV. The estimated containment remained at 2 percent.

The wildfire that started Friday comes at the peak of tourist season. As of 10:45 p.m. on Friday, the fire has closed State Route 140 between the Yosemite Bug Resort (located north of Midpines) and the Cedar Lodge (located west of El Portal).

Daniel Swain believes the Ferguson Fire "is likely to burn for many days and may eventually become a major threat" to the national park, he said via Twitter.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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