Yosemite Wildfire Forces Hiker Evacuation

Helicopters airlift visitors from the top of Half Dome

The wildfire has been burning for almost two months and was not considered a threat until it grew drastically on Sunday. (Yosemite National Park/Twitter)
Photo: Yosemite National Park/Twitter

A wildfire in Yosemite National Park forced the evacuation of about 100 hikers Sunday from around the park’s iconic Half Dome. No injuries have been reported, but trails around Half Dome remain closed.

Tim Ludington, Yosemite’s chief of roads and trails, told the L.A. Times that the fire had been allowed to burn since July 20 and had not been considered a safety threat, burning just 19 acres over several weeks. That changed Sunday, when a change in conditions contributed to the fire’s rapid growth. "We had really aggressive winds today—that was the big change," Ludington told the Times


As of Monday, the fire had spread to more than 2,000 acres, and firefighters were aiming for complete suppression. Several air tankers and hotshot crews have been assigned to fight the blaze. 

Rescuers used helicopters to pull dozens of hikers from the top of Half Dome as well as the surrounding trails and campsites. The park service reports that all rescues were complete by 7 p.m.

In an email to Outside Online, big-wall climber Alex Honnold, who was climbing Middle Cathedral Rock in the park on Sunday, wrote that he “could see the smoke billowing up over … that whole end of the Valley. And we watched the helis flying by all day. Kind of added to the experience.”

yosemite alex honnold wildfire climbing hiking national parks outside
Climber Alex Honnold took this photo of his friend Josh McCoy while on the Border Country route on Middle Cathedral. You can see the smoke from the wildfire in the background. (Alex Honnold)

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