Officials say the massive wildland blaze — fueled by gusty, erratic winds and dry conditions — jumped across containment lines along Highway 41 on Friday night, moving toward Yosemite's ski and snowboard area at Badger Pass, where some fire crews are based.
Ferguson Fire information officer Michelle Eidam says the growth forced fire crews at Badger Pass to shelter in place.
"The firefighters were prepared," she said. "They had fire engines and the protections in place to be there and protect those buildings and to protect that camp. At the same time, non-essential personnel, anyone who didn't need to remain at that camp, was escorted out."
Eidam says the blaze also burned across Glacier Point Road, which leads to the Badger Pass, cutting off the primary exit route from the camp, but she said all non-essential personnel were already evacuated at that point.
Because the wildfire jumped over Highway 41 last night, officials say fire crews are now building new containment lines within the park boundary to prevent the blaze from spreading further.
"Crews are out there right now, working on lines to grab the fire and hold that fire in check over on that eastern side," Eidam said.
Warm and dry conditions, along with winds pushing eastward, are expected to keep fire activity strong on the Yosemite side of the blaze over the weekend.
"What people will see out there is a pretty significant column of smoke," Eidam said. "It will look like a big cloud, and that's the fire being active. Because we have westerly winds coming in, the eastern side of the fire is where you're going to see the most fire activity."
Yosemite National Park officials closed off a large portion of the park — including the highly popular Yosemite Valley — to all visitors on July 25th due to unhealthy air quality and active firefighting operations. Park officials plan to to re-asses whether and when they can reopen the valley on Sunday.
The Ferguson Fire has scorched more than 126 square miles of dry brush and timber along steep terrain since it ignited on July 13. As of Saturday morning, the blaze was 80,755 acres and 39 percent contained.
Nearly 3,000 personnel are fighting the wildfire with 201 engines, 58 water tenders and 71 dozers.
Two firefighters have been killed and 11 have been injured battling the blaze.
Cal Fire Heavy Equipment Operator Braden Varney, 36, died on July 14 after his bulldozer overturned in a steep ravine.
Thirty-three-year-old Brian Hughes, captain of an elite firefighting squad stationed within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, was killed on July 29, when he was struck by a falling tree.
Officials hope to have the fire fully contained by August 15.