US famous national park partially closed due to wildfire
A wildfire forced a partial closure Thursday at Yosemite National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the United States.
The blaze, dubbed the Washburn Fire, burned in the lower portion of the Mariposa Grove, home to more than 500 mature giant sequoias, the park administration tweeted Thursday evening.
It wasn't immediately clear so far whether the fire had damaged or threatened the historic tree grove. Giant sequoia specimens are the most massive trees on Earth. These trees occur naturally only in groves on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California and the largest of them are as tall as a 26-story building on average.
The park service first reported the fire just before local time 5:30 p.m., saying flames had consumed about eight acres, but the Fire Integrated Real Time Intelligence System tweeted at local time 8:00 p.m. that the fire had spread to 46 acres.
Local media reported that smoke from the fire could be seen from Fresno, 64 miles (102.9 km) from the Mariposa Grove.
"Firefighters are suppressing the fire from the ground and air. The Mariposa Grove is closed until further notice," the Yosemite National Park tweeted. Photos posted online showed that a Boeing 737-300 air tanker took part in the operation.
Zeke Lunder, the Lookout.org working prescribed burns and large fires, said the fire could not be put off very soon.
"WashburnFire will be with us for a while. Long-range spotting makes it very difficult to control, and will limit effectiveness of air tankers. Lots of snags (standing dead trees) make fighting the fire directly here very dangerous."