Breaking: Wildfires put Tuolumne Family Camp on alert

Tuolumme
The Berkeley-run Tuolumne Family Camp is on evacuation alert. Photo: Sonny Abesamis/Creative Commons.

Update, 6:50pm STAFF LEAVE CAMP: Tuolumne Camp staff have now left the camp, according to unconfirmed reports. A staff member spoke to a parent of a camper who had already left and said staffers were making their way through Yosemite. They described the sky as being red. It is unclear whether there is anyone left at the camp. Meanwhile, 110 students from Berkeley’s Maybeck High School have evacuated voluntarily from the San Jose Family Camp which is along the Tuolumne River, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Update, 5:18 pm CITs LEAVE CAMP, HEAD TO BERKELEY: Tuolumne Camp has arranged for the CITS (counselors-in-training) at the camp to return to Berkeley tonight. In a message emailed to the camp families, Scott Ferris, Director of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront for the city of Berkeley, said the decision was taken because there are only a small number of campers left at the site, and also in response to parents’ concerns. “Although camp remains open,  many participants have chosen to leave camp,” he wrote. “Because of the lack of participants, parent concern and the potential closure of camp due to the fire, we are taking the precaution of bringing the CITs home tonight.” The CITS are expected to be transported by bus to downtown Berkeley where they will arrive after 11:00pm.

Original story: The Rim Fire that is currently burning across more than 10,000 acres in the Yosemite area and has shut down a major gateway to the national park, has put the Berkeley-run Tuolumne Family Camp on evacuation alert. “As of this point, we understand that no evacuation order has been issued,” Pamela Embry, a spokesperson for the city of Berkeley, said.

The camp is ready to evacuate if it needs to, but campers are not in any imminent danger, according to sources close to the camp. Campers have been instructed to pack a bag of essential items in case of evacuation, and transport plans are in place.


The air quality at the camp is fine, according to a source who is speaking to officials at the city, and food provisions are high. Estimates put the number of campers at 80 with 40 staff. 

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The area of the wildfire. Map: CA-STF

Families with children at the camp report that the campers can see and smell smoke. The camp is currently running on a generator and, reportedly, the phone service is down. Neither the city nor the camp has released information to the community as of this writing.

The fire has thus far closed a section of Highway 120, and the town of Buck Meadows — which is southwest of the Berkeley Family Camp — has been evacuated. The west entrance to Yosemite is closed, according to media reports.

The fire is 0% contained and is proving difficult to fight due to inaccessible, steep terrain, according to incident information provided by authorities

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jerry Snyder told the LA. Times that about 2,500 homes west of the Rim Fire — along Ferretti Road and north of California 120 — are threatened. “Two homes have already been lost as 455 firefighters struggled to contain the out-of-control blaze, which had burned through about 10,170 acres of rugged, hilly terrain in the Stanislaus National Forest,” the paper reported.

Track the fire at the government’s Incident website.
Follow the fire on Twitter using #RimFire
Watch a video of the fire on Aug. 18 shot from an airplane.

This story is being updated as Berkeleyside gets new information.

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