The Latest: Safety investigators eye firefighter death
MARIPOSA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on a deadly wildfire near Yosemite National Park (all times local):
California workplace safety officials are investigating the death of a firefighter who was killed while battling a wildfire near Yosemite National Park.
California Division of Occupational Safety and Health spokesman Frank Polizzi said Monday an inspector went to the scene on the day Braden Varney died.
Polizzi said his office was told that Varney’s bulldozer rolled over on Saturday while he was trying to create a fire line.
The investigation will look at whether there were any violations related to Varney’s training or the maintenance of the bulldozer.
The 36-year-old Varney was married and had two young children. He had worked for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for 10 years.
Mariposa County sheriff’s officials say Varney’s body was recovered Monday. Officials had said his body was in a precarious location and conditions had been too dangerous to retrieve it.
Officials say smoke from a forest fire near Yosemite National Park is affecting air quality in central California.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District urged people with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people to stay in air-conditioned buildings.
District spokesman Anthony Presto said Monday smoke from the fire can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.
The counties affected are Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno and Tulare.
At Yosemite, visitors could use all trails, campgrounds, lodges and restaurants on Monday.
But Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman says officials are asking tourists with respiratory issues to be cautious.
A park official says all trails, campgrounds, restaurants and lodges at Yosemite National Park are open, though smoke from a nearby deadly wildfire is polluting the air and limiting visibility.
Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said Monday visitors are still arriving at the “fully operational” park.
The blaze near Yosemite’s west end doubled in size overnight to 14 square miles (36 kilometers). It is 2 percent contained.
The wildfire that started Friday comes at the peak of tourist season. It shut down a key route into the park and prompted mandatory evacuations for Yosemite Cedar Lodge, which is outside the park, and nearby communities.
He says power in Yosemite Valley was turned off while firefighters worked to quell the blaze, but it was turned back on Sunday morning.
Fire officials say a deadly wildfire burning near the west end of Yosemite National Park doubled in size overnight.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman John DeYoe says the blaze has scorched 14 square miles (36 kilometers) of brush and timber as of Monday morning. It is 2 percent contained.
Temperatures spiking to 95 degrees (35 Celsius) and inaccessible terrain were making it difficult for crews to slow the blaze that started Friday.
The wildfire that comes at the peak of tourist season shut down a key route into the park and prompted mandatory evacuations for Yosemite Cedar Lodge and nearby communities.
Firefighter Braden Varney was killed over the weekend while working on a bulldozer to try to prevent the fire from spreading.
Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean says Varney’s body is in “precarious terrain” but that they hope to recover his body Monday.