1. SOUNDBITE (English) Kelly Martin, Chief of Fire and Aviation Management at Yosemite National Park:
"This main fire spread is actually impeding the three main entrances into Yosemite National Park. So when you heard that we had to close Yosemite Valley indefinitely, it had to do with the fact that all of these roads going into Yosemite Valley are somehow impacted by the fire. There's also, there is fire on the road, there's firefighters on the road, significant issues to public safety and firefighter safety by having those roads remain closed until we can mitigate the effects of the fire on those roads. It's a very, very difficult situation that we find ourselves in to say when can we agree open these roads. In order to give this team, which they've been doing absolutely phenomenal job at this, we need some latitude to really say do your best job without getting anyone hurt. So this is the ask that we have of the public is this is why we have remained closed in those areas."
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2. SOUNDBITE (English) Scott Gediman, Yosemite Spokesman:
"It's a day to day situation but we want to make it clear that we are endeavoring to get the park open as soon as it is safe to do so."
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3. SOUNDBITE (English) Scott Gediman, Yosemite Spokesman:
"It's certainly a huge impact for us and Yosemite. This is the time, as you mention, that we welcome the most visitors. This is literally the busiest time of the year. So it's had an impact on people for example that had campground reservations, unfortunately had to get canceled. Within the park, Yosemite hospitality, the park concessionaire, has shut down all of their operations in Yosemite Valley. Huge impact and also on our gateway communities, communities like Oakhurst, Sonora, that really depend, Mariposa, that depend very heavily on tourism and visitation. So it's a huge impact and we just want to know, we want everybody to know that we understand that, the team is doing a great job, and clearly it's impacting businesses in a negative way and we're all just working together to to move forward."
National Park Service officials said Tuesday that the scenic Yosemite Valley and other areas will continue to be closed for the foreseeable future due to the so-called Ferguson Fire and its heavy smoke impact.
A blaze burning for 26 days in and around Yosemite National Park is impacting three of the park's entrances and officials say it is unclear when the park will reopen.
Kelly Martin, the park's chief of fire and aviation, said Tuesday the blaze is very active on Yosemite's north rim where it is being fueled by dry vegetation and dead trees.
The blaze has not reached the scenic Yosemite Valley but last week officials ordered the park's closure after the air reached hazardous pollution levels. The closure also helped clear roads for the more than 2,000 firefighters battling the massive blaze.
Officials on Monday lifted several evacuation orders but said the communities of Foresta and Yosemite West are still being threatened.
The blaze that started on July 13 has killed two firefighters and injured another 12.
Yosemite Spokesman Scott Gediman said it is "a day to day situation" but authorities and fire officials are "endeavoring to get the park open as soon as it is safe to do so."
Gediman said the fires have had a "huge" economic impact on the park and its surrounding communities in the middle of tourist season.
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