A plane battling the Ferguson Fire passes the setting sun over unincorporated Mariposa County, Calif., near Yosemite National Park.
Officials at Yosemite National Park announced that the southwestern part of the park will remain closed for at least 5 days, from Wednesday to Sunday. It offers views of Half Dome, Bridal Veil Fall, El Capitan and Yosemite Falls.
Yosemite Falls on July 12, 2018, before smoke from the Ferguson Fire filled the Yosemite Valley floor.
Rhonda Salisbury, chief executive of Visit Yosemite/Madera County, said the regional visitors bureau has been relocating tourists statewide after the closure.
"Get yourself out of here if you can", Park Superintendent Michael Reynolds told a community meeting, according to the Fresno Bee. 'And anyone that's incoming tomorrow will get an email or phone call stating that their reservation is canceled'.
Last Wednesday, the peak particulate levels in Yosemite Valley were almost five times as high as in China's capital city - 518 vs. 106 micrograms per cubic meter of particulates in the air.
Yosemite wasn't under imminent danger from the Ferguson fire, officials were quick to point out.
Authorities decided on the closure to allow crews to perform protective measures such as burning away brush along roads without having to deal with traffic in the park that welcomes four million visitors annually.
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"Smoke may be heavy at times", the park said in a statement, advising visitors to "limit activity during the periods of poor air quality".
The Ferguson Fire began the night of July 13 and has spread across almost 60 square miles of rugged forest west of the park.
Fire crews positioned engines around Yosemite View Lodge, Cedar Lodge - both of which were under mandatory evacuation - and other businesses near El Portal along Highway 140.
More than 3,000 firefighters are battling the fire, which broke out July 13.
Since the fire began on Friday, July 13, several other park facilities and roads have been closed due to fire impacts and the need to support firefighting operations.
The fire, which has claimed the life of one firefighter and injured several others, has burned more than 36,000 acres southwest of Yosemite and is now 25% contained, officials said.
"When we saw that the visitor's center was closed, we knew it had to be bad", Lyons said.