Published: Thu, July 19, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

California firefighter dies while battling blaze near Yosemite National Park

California firefighter dies while battling blaze near Yosemite National Park

A deadly wildfire near Yosemite National Park shrouded the popular destination in smoke and left some tourist-dependent businesses hurting Monday, but visitors still braved trails, campgrounds, lodges and restaurants in the California park, officials said.

Braden Varney, a bulldozer operator with Cal Fire's Madera-Mariposa-Merced Uni, died while battling the fire on Saturday when his bulldozer reportedly rolled over.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Deputy Chief Scott McLean said Varney's body was in a precarious location in steep terrain and conditions remained too risky to allow crews to get close Sunday.

No other details about his death were released.

More news: Accused Russian agent used sex and deception to gain influence, prosecutors say

The Kootenai National Forest reports that at least one helicopter is being used to fight the fire, with no structures threatened at this time.

According to The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, California has had its worst start to the fire season in a decade, with more than 220,421 acres burned so far. The bulldozer ended up at the bottom of a ravine and Koerperich said rescuers were not able to retrieve Varney's body Saturday afternoon. "It puts a heaviness and awareness on just how fragile everything is", Fire Information Officer Anne Grandy said.

Evacuations areas in effect as of Sunday morning are Briceburg to Cedar Lodge on Highway 140 and Mariposa Pines, north of Bear Clover. Drivers looking to visit Yosemite should take alternative routes, Highway 41 or 120.

"In the meantime, please join us in keeping Braden and his loved ones in your prayers and all the responders on the front lines in your thoughts as they continue to work under extremely challenging conditions", California fire officials said in a statement.

More news: A dozen new moons have been discovered orbiting Jupiter

U.S. 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. More fire engines were expected to arrive later Monday to try to stop the flames from reaching more than 100 homes and commercial buildings that are under threat, DeYoe said.

A quickly spreading wildfire has led to the closure of one of the main access points into California's Yosemite National Park.

"Visitors who are sensitive to smoke should plan to limit any strenuous outdoor activities or plan to visit the park another time", the Yosemite National Park said on Twitter.

More news: Major League Baseball star Josh Hader apologizes for racist, homophobic tweets

Like this: