Wildfire smoke keeps Camp Mather and Tawonga closed


Camp Mather, located near Yosemite National Park, will remain closed this week due to unhealthy air, San Francisco Recreation and Park officials announced Wednesday.

The hazardous smoke is from the Ferguson Fire, which has killed two firefighters and burned nearly 95,000 acres since it began on July 13. Additionally, the Donnell Fire, which began on Aug. 1, is also burning nearby, in the area of the Stanislaus National Forest. That fire has burned more than 21,000 acres, however, no injuries or fatalities have been reported.

The San Francisco rec and parks department runs the historic family camp, located in the Groveland area of Tuolumne County.

Rec and park officials initially closed Camp Mather on July 31 due to the unhealthy air and had hoped to reopen it by Sunday, Aug. 12. Those plans, however, have been nixed as hazardous conditions persist.

Campers whose trips have been canceled will receive full refunds and guaranteed spots at the camp for next year, rec and park officials said.

Officials are hoping that, if conditions improve, Camp Mather will reopen on Sunday, Aug. 19.

Another camp in the area for Jewish Bay Area youth, Camp Tawonga, announced it will remain closed this week due to the unhealthy air caused by the wildfires.

Officials with Camp Tawonga, also located in Groveland, have said that while the property itself is not at risk, the U.S. Forest Service, the Tuolumne County Health Department and Cal Fire have recommended that the camp stay closed this week.

Camp officials last week evacuated campers and returned them to the Bay Area. Camp officials had hoped to return this week.

Campers who’ve had their sessions canceled will also receive full refunds, camp officials said.

In statement on Facebook earlier this week, Camp Tawonga’s Executive Director Jaime Simon said:

“Even as we navigate this uncharted territory, I feel a sense of calm and certainty, knowing that our agency is upholding safety as our utmost priority. I am also deeply proud of our entire Tawonga team for stepping up to support camp in so many ways.”

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