The 846 acre Wawona Northwest Prescribed Fire, that began on May 15, 2012, has been
postponed. Fire officials cancelled the project due to concerns for safety to firefighters and
the community, and an unsettled weather pattern. A high pressure ridge over the Sierra
Nevada is projected for the weekend and may not have allowed enough time to complete
This project is one of the most difficult prescribed fires units within the park due to very
steep terrain, with a 2300’ elevation gain. The decision to cancel the project weighed on
adequate planning, evaluation of risk, fire ground situational awareness and availability of
adequate resources. This decision process is taken on all fires and up to the minute before
ignition begins. The intent of the risk analysis is to reduce the subjectivity in evaluating the
suitability of completing every prescribed fire project safely.
Specific to the Wawona project, early drying of vegetation, inadequate resources and
concerns by fire managers to hold the fire along fire lines led to the uncertainty of
successfully mitigating an escape. The extremely dry winter and early drying of vegetation,
points out the importance of property owners to maintain defensible space and clearance of
dead and down vegetation within 100 feet of their properties. The Wawona NW project will
be considered for a later date this fall or next spring.