Yosemite National Park Closes Due to Poor Air Quality as Wildfires Continue to Ravage West Coast

Yosemite National Park has closed as a series of devastating wildfires continue to burn in California.

The National Park Service announced on Thursday that the park would be closing “due to significant smoke impacts and hazardous air quality.”

“All entrances and roads are closed and will reopen when conditions are safe,” they added in a statement.

Although a reopening date has yet to be announced, officials believe the park will be closed through the weekend, according to CNN.

This is the second time the park has been closed this year. Yosemite previously closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and reopened in June.

As of Thursday, at least 25 people have died due to the wildfires in California since Aug. 15, and nearly 5,400 structures have been destroyed. A total of 26 major fires are currently burning across the state and over 17,000 firefighters continue to work on containment, according to the latest report from Cal Fire.

Although Cal Fire went on to note that residents could expect “cooler temperatures and increasing humidity” on Thursday, they added that “warm and dry conditions are likely to return this weekend, bringing elevated fire damage.”

In addition to affecting those in the West Coast, smoke from the devastating wildfires has even traveled across the country.

On Monday, forecasters in New York, New Jersey and New England reported hazy skies as a result of the smoky air blowing thousands of miles east, and NASA released satellite images showing the smoke’s path across the U.S.

NASA went on to warn that that the smoke would “bring hazardous air quality across the country” as “along with the smoke, small particles suspended in the air (aerosols) are also moved along the jet stream.”

"The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles. These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into your lungs,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “They can cause a range of health problems, from burning eyes and a runny nose to aggravated chronic heart and lung diseases. Exposure to particle pollution is even linked to premature death."

In Oregon, at least eight people have died in the blazes, which have burned approximately 1 million acres, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

“My heart is heavy for all the Oregonians who have lost loved ones, homes, & businesses,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said on social media Thursday. “I know we have a long road of recovery ahead, but time and again I am in awe of the dedicated, brave, and empathetic people who have been doing anything and everything it takes to help.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, over 800,000 acres have been scorched and one death has been reported, according to The Seattle Times. Unhealthy air quality warnings remain in effect throughout much of the state.

To help communities facing destructive wildfires in the Western U.S., consider donating to the following organizations:

• The American Red Cross allows donors to direct funds to support people impacted by the fires.

• GlobalGiving’s Wildfire Relief offers emergency funding to local efforts providing essentials to wildfire victims in need.

• GoFundMe’s California Wildfire Relief Fund aims to “support a range of needs” by issuing “grants to individuals, organizations and communities that have either been impacted themselves or are dedicated to helping.“

• The California Fire Foundation “provides emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters and the communities they protect.“

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