Yosemite National Park is closing at least through the weekend because of the hazardous air quality caused by wildfires that continue to rage along the West Coast.
In a statement, officials announced the California park was closed to all visitors and vehicles as of 5 p.m. Thursday, and would likely remain closed through the weekend “[w]ith air quality projected to be in the unhealthy to hazardous range over the next several days.”
“The park will continue to assess the smoke impacts, air quality index, and fire activity throughout the region. Yosemite National Park will reopen to visitors when conditions improve, and it is safe for visitors and employees to be in Yosemite National Park,” the park said in the statement.
The biggest fire near Yosemite started Sept. 4 and had grown to 244,756 acres as of Thursday afternoon, burning in the Sierra south of Yosemite, the Los Angeles Times reported. Two small lightning fires were also burning in the southern part of the park.
Sequoia National Park in the western Sierra shut Tuesday because of proximity to a lightning blaze that started Aug. 24.
All of California’s 18 national forests are closed because of extreme fire risk, the LA Times reported.
Since fires in California spiked last month, there have been 25 deaths and about 5,400 structures destroyed, The Hill reported.