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July 24, 2018

AWAHNEE, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires in California (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

A Yosemite National Park official says at least a thousand campground and hotel reservations will be canceled after authorities decided to close Yosemite Valley to keep a growing forest fire at bay.

Spokesman Scott Gediman says the valley — the heart of the visitor experience at the park — along with a windy, mountainous, 20-mile (32-kilometer) stretch of State Route 41 that is part of Yosemite will close beginning Wednesday at noon. The closure is expected to last through Sunday.

Gediman says the last time the valley was closed because of fire was 1990.

He says the park isn’t under imminent danger from the nearby fire, but officials decided on the closure to allow crews to perform protective measures without having to deal with tourist traffic.

The fire just to the west of the park is 25 percent contained.

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12:25 p.m.

California authorities will shut down a section of Yosemite National Park for several days as crews try to stop a stubborn and growing wildfire from spreading.

The Fresno Bee reports park Superintendent Michael Reynolds told a community meeting that a 20-mile (32-kilometer) stretch of State Route 41 that is part of Yosemite will close beginning Wednesday at noon. The closure is expected to last through Sunday.

Over nearly two weeks, flames have churned through more than 57 square miles (147.6 square kilometers) of timber in steep terrain of the Sierra Nevada just west of the park. The fire was just 25 percent contained Tuesday morning.

Mandatory evacuations are in place in several communities while others have been told to get ready to leave if necessary.

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11:55 a.m.

Firefighters have contained about 25 percent of a nearly 2-week-old forest fire in the Sierra Nevada west of Yosemite National Park.

The Ferguson Fire has scorched as of Tuesday morning but has not damaged or destroyed any homes since it broke out July 13.

Mandatory evacuations are in place in several areas while others have been advised to be prepared for evacuations.

More than 3,300 firefighters are working the fire, aided by 16 helicopters. One firefighter was killed July 14 and six others have been injured.

In the state’s far north, a nearly 4-square-mile (10.3-square-kilometer) wildfire has forced the evacuation of French Gulch, a small Shasta County community that dates to the Gold Rush.

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