Warning to tourists in Yosemite Valley

2013-09-01 16:09
(Photo: file, AP)

(Photo: file, AP)

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San Francisco - Smoke from the huge wildfire in the Yosemite national park has reached the heavily-touristed heart of the park, officials say, warning visitors against strenuous activity.

Webcams showed smoke apparently clouding the world-famous Yosemite Valley, the spectacular area in the middle of the California park visited by millions every year.

More than usual visitors were expected in the park for the Labuor Day weekend, although officials had said the increase could be smaller than usual due to the so-called Rim Fire, which started outside the park two weeks ago.

"Heavy smoke is now visible south of the Tioga Road, including in Yosemite Valley," said the park website's latest update after a change in wind direction from the blaze.

"Visitors to the area should avoid extended strenuous physical activities outdoors. Additionally, those (..) sensitive to air quality impacts should avoid going outside in Yosemite," it added.

Despite the warning, officials said they were optimistic of making further gains on the blaze, known as the Rim Fire, but warned that hot, dry conditions continued to create a challenging environment.
According to latest figures, the fire has burned 888km² and continues to threaten 4 500 structures.

A total of 4 995 firefighters have been deployed to battle the flames, which have so far destroyed 11 homes and 97 outbuildings.
US Forest Service officials say the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that authorities in California have faced increasing problems with marijuana farms hidden deep in the region's rugged wilderness.
Read more on:    us  |  fires

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