Yosemite Valley set to reopen to tourists

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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. – Yosemite Valley is set to reopen to tourists after three weeks of closures due to a deadly wildfire.

Park officials announced they would start allowing visitors to return to Yosemite Valley, the crown jewel of Yosemite National Park, on Tuesday. Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias reopened Monday at 9 a.m.

A fierce wildfire, dubbed the Ferguson Fire, ignited July 13 and grew to be the largest ever in the Sierra National Forest. It charred 150 square miles. Two firefighters died battling it.

The valley was closed on July 25, during its peak season.

As of Monday, the fire was 86 percent contained.

Yosemite National Park is 1,100 square miles and draws millions of visitors from around the world each year. The valley attracts the most attention and is where Yosemite Falls, El Capitan and Half Dome are located.

National Park Service officials warned motorists to be cautious of fire and smoke on the roads.

“We’d like to express our sincere gratitude to the firefighters and Incident command teams for their great efforts in suppressing the Ferguson Fire. We’d also like to express our gratitude and thanks to our gateway communities who tirelessly helped visitors to the area while they were being impacted by the fire,” the park’s superintendent said in a release.

Fire officials have issued a grim prediction, warning that massive blazes will cost the state billions of dollars more over the next decade.

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