National park fire hurts businesses
MARIPOSA, Calif. — 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.
Amenities were open and visitors posted photos on social media as they hiked in smoky conditions, but the growing flames shut down a key route into the park at the peak of tourist season. A stretch of State Route 140 has been closed since the weekend, and drivers have been urged to find alternate ways into the park.
“All the campgrounds and the hotels are open — the shuttles are running,” Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said. “We have limited visibility, but aside from that, the park is open and fully operational.”
Time-lapse video by the Yosemite Conservancy, a group that supports the park, shows billowing smoke enveloping and completely obscuring Half Dome, an iconic rock formation. Park webcams showed other landmarks, such the El Capitan rock formation, concealed by thick plumes of smoke.
Businesses along the highway in Mariposa, a town popular with park visitors, have taken a hit, though the flames haven’t reached them.
Gopal Das, owner of a Quality Inn, said at least 50 people have called to cancel their reservations since Sunday.
“We’ll lose that revenue,” Das said. “Since it’s a fire hazard, it is something beyond everybody’s control, and that means we won’t be able to charge them for late cancellations. It could result in thousands of dollars in losses.”