More than 3,000 personnel have battled the Ferguson Fire, which
ignited on July 13 and has burned through nearly 97,000 acres
(39,250 hectares) of steep slopes and bone-dry terrain southwest
of the park, the California Department of Forestry and Fire
Protection, or Cal Fire, said.
Two firefighters were killed while tackling the blaze and 19
others injured, it said.
Cooler weather and calmer winds in recent days have helped
firefighters in California and other western states get a handle
on major blazes, according to authorities.
"The weather is helping the fires to lay down and they
(firefighters) are able to get better containment lines around
them," said Lynnette Round, a Cal Fire spokeswoman.
The heart of Yosemite National Park, shut for nearly three weeks
due to the Ferguson Fire, was reopened to the public on Tuesday.
But smoke lingered in the air and a few major roads in the park
remained closed over the weekend.
There were still sporadic fires within the containment lines,
Yosemite park officials said, adding that visitors should
The park's closure has taken a major toll on the local economy.
Some 4.3 million visitors spent an estimated $452 million last
year, most of that during the summer.
While there has been progress in battling blazes nationwide,
officials worry that lightning strikes in states such as
Washington, Oregon and Idaho could spark more wildfires,
according to Ashton Robinson Cook, a meteorologist at the U.S.
National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.
"There are quite a few areas in the West where fuels are dry and
susceptible to fire-starts and rapid fire-spread," he said.
Wildfires have consumed nearly 5.9 million acres (2,387,650
hectares) of the United States so far this year, well above the
national average for the same period over the past 10 years of
4.8 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire
Center, a monitoring agency.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Dan
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