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Wildfire in Yosemite finally contained

Ferguson Fire estimated as one of the most expensive blazes in state history

Firefighters silhouetted against the lights of their vehicles as orange flames glow in the trees behind them. Stuary Palley for USFS

Finally, some good news.

Cal Fire reported Sunday that the Ferguson Fire, which has burned for five straight weeks and threatened assets in Yosemite National Park, is fully contained, which puts an end to a long and grim chapter in the state’s latest ongoing wildfire ordeal.

This result comes a little ahead of schedule, as the state agency previously estimated that containment would arrive this Wednesday.

News broke late Saturday night that fire crews had completely encircled the blaze with fire lines. As NPR warned during the 2017 wildfires, it’s still possible for fires to spread even over containment lines, but this is pretty rare.

The latest estimate puts the Ferguson Fire at over 96,900 acres burned since its incitement on July 13, a figure which is expected to grow a bit before the blaze eventually burns itself out.

The state agency also notes that fire-suppressing efforts will have to continue throughout the region to “[assess] burned areas in order to identify imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural or cultural resources on public lands.”

Still, the worst part is over. Almost the entire park has been reopened, although Cal Fire’s latest incident report warns, “Glacier Point Road remains closed, along with the Bridalveil Creek Campground” and notes that drivers should “use extreme caution while driving, as firefighters are still working in the area.”

At its height, the state committed over 3,000 firefighter personnel to containing the Ferguson Fire. The Sacramento Bee reports that in all this single fire cost the state $116.9 million. This would make it one of the most expensive fires in the history of the state.

One firefighter died while working on the Ferguson blaze. The latest report shows ten buildings destroyed, a number which may increase a bit as investigators take stock of the damage post-burn.