Read Time:4 Minute, 42 Second
California's "Rim" wildfire, which has swelled to 165 square miles, crept into a remote section of Yosemite National Park on Friday, but Yosemite Valley is not threatened so far and the park remain opens to visitors.
Only 2 percent of the blaze, located mostly west of the park, has been contained, prompting Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant says the blaze threatens about 4,500 residences.
"Most of the fire activity is pushing to the east right into Yosemite," Berlant says.
The fire within the park is, for now, confined to a remote area around Lake Eleanor, says Bjorn Fredrickson, a fire spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.
"There is no immediate threat to the valley at this time," he says.
While Yosemite remains open, the wildfire has caused the closure of a 4-mile stretch of State Route 120, one of three entrances into Yosemite on the west side, devastating areas that rely on tourism.
The U.S. Forest Service says 2,011 firefighters using nine helicopters are battling the fire.
Although the park remains open, authorities have urged residents of nearly 300 homes in a gated community in the area to begin a non-mandatory evacuation.
Hundreds of residents and visitors have already fled the area and authorities have canceled a popular bluegrass music festival planned for the Labor Day weekend.
The blaze, which has destroyed two homes and seven outbuildings, is among about 61 large fires burning nationwide.
In Sun Valley, Idaho, Rockers Huey Lewis and the News canceled a show in Sun Valley, Idaho, as wildfire known as "the Beast" drove novelists, poets and journalists from the popular vacation region.
With its mountain backdrop, Sun Valley is normally a playground for the rich, the famous, for super-fit pursuers of outdoor sports or the Big Wood River's feisty brook trout. To many, it's heaven. But "the Beast" has caused disruptions in the sun-basking, fun-loving lifestyle, and the economy
"This is the worst I've seen it," said Brad Wood, who helps run a shop that rents bikes at the posh Sun Valley Lodge. Wood said he's sent four employees home until business picks up: On Thursday, only five of the 350 bikes they rent were out.
Meanwhile, five wildfires have burned about 18 square miles of mostly remote areas of Yellowstone National Park on the 25th anniversary of the infamous 1988 fires that burned more than a third of the park.
This summer's fires haven't been anywhere near that disruptive. The biggest fire in Yellowstone, one that has burned about 12 square miles in the Hayden Valley area, for a time Tuesday closed the road that follows the Yellowstone River between Fishing Bridge and Canyon Village. By Wednesday, the road had reopened. Later that day, half an inch of rain fell on the fire.
Idaho's Beaver Creek Fire is 67 percent contained, as firefighters take advantage of favorable weather to corral it up against an area burned by another large blaze in 2007. But it will continue to smoke for weeks.
More than just torching sage, high-desert grassland and trees, however, its impact has scorched the local economy.
Todd Van Bramer, who manages fly fishing guides at Silver Creek Outfitters in Ketchum, Idaho, said he's lost 70 percent of his normal business.
"We have a lot of customers who can go anywhere they want to," he said. "They don't have to come to Idaho if it's burning, they can go to Montana, Colorado or Wyoming at the drop of a hat."
The air is now much less smoky than it was during the height of the fire, but the smoke continues to cast a shadow over the economy.
At the airport in Hailey, just south of Sun Valley, regional carrier Sky West has been forced to divert many morning flights to Twin Falls, about 100 miles away, because cooler morning temperatures mean smoke often loiters on the valley floor until afternoon breezes push it away.
The Sun Valley Lodge, built in 1936 by the Union Pacific Railroad as America's first destination resort, is bearing the brunt of disruption.
A writer's conference that was to have featured speakers including journalist Peter Bergen and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Liaquat Ahamed was canceled, emptying rooms by the dozen. Guests who cancel are getting refunds, said Jack Sibbach, a resort spokesman. "It's quite an economic hit on us," he said.
Businesses like The Elephant's Perch sports store in Ketchum have had plenty of time to devote to the local firefighters who have ordered heavy new boots. But it's not adding much to the bottom line.
"These guys are getting the boots at our cost," said Sam Elmes, a sales clerk. "They did a great job protecting us."
For the first time in 37 years, a charitable golf tournament started by the late baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew was scratched. There are "hundreds of firefighters risking their lives in the woods. We're not going to be playing golf while they're doing that," said Georgie Fenton, its director.