California Wildfires Prompt State of Emergency, Evacuations, and Park Closures — What to Know

Parts of Yosemite and Sierra National Forests are closed to visitors.

An out-of-control wildfire near the Sierra National Forest raged on Monday as a second wildfire continued to burn in neighboring Yosemite National Park, closing parts of both parks to visitors.

The fire forced the Sierra National Forest to close large swaths of land to the public, according to the Forest Service. It comes as the fire is "flanking, backing, and creeping through National Forest Systems lands, roads, and recreational areas."

"This closure will support public safety by keeping public members out of hazardous burn areas and will allow firefighting resources to combat the Fire without public interference," the Forest Service said in a statement.

California fire
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Hot weather (which is being felt all over the world) coupled with low humidity are hampering firefighting efforts, Cal Fire noted.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County on Saturday due to the effects of the Oak Fire, which broke out on Friday and had burned more than 16,000 acres by Monday morning with 10% containment, according to Cal Fire. So far, the blaze has "destroyed homes, threatened critical infrastructure and forced the evacuation of more than three thousand residents," Newsom's office said in a statement, adding the fire is being "driven by hot, dry weather and drought conditions."

The Oak Fire broke out just two weeks after the Washburn Fire started to sweep through Yosemite National Park, threatening the national park's famous giant sequoias. As of late Sunday night, that fire had burned just over 4,800 acres and was 87% contained, according to InciWeb, an interagency all-risk incident information management system.

Smoke from the Washburn Fire hangs over the south entrance to Yosemite National Park, California.

Yosemite's Wawona and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias remained closed due to the fire, according to the National Park Service.

The Oak Fire started as the Forest Service announced plans on Friday to protect the park's giant sequoias from the threat of wildfires by hand cutting small trees, pulling duff away from the base of large giant sequoias, performing prescribed burning, and more.

"Without urgent action, wildfires could eliminate countless more iconic giant sequoias," Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said in a statement. "We can and must do more to protect giant sequoias using all the tools and flexibilities available to us. This emergency action to reduce fuels before a wildfire occurs will protect unburned giant sequoia groves from the risks of high-severity wildfires."

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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