Hikers were evacuated by helicopter from Yosemite National Park's iconic Half Dome on Sunday as a wildfire raged in nearby Little Yosemite Valley.
Photos on social media and webcam images from The Yosemite Conservancy showed the towering granite landmark with smoke and flames from the 400-acre Meadow Fire burning just beyond it, including this image posted on the park's Facebook page:
Here's an image taken from the floor of Yosemite Valley and shared on Twitter:
— NWSBayArea (@NWSBayArea) September 7, 2014
This view is from one of the webcams in the park:
— RichSeiling (@richseiling) September 7, 2014
Several people sent images out of the rescue via social media, including Instagram user cici.reese:
It's not clear how many people were being evacuated from Half Dome, but a second image posted to the same Instagram account showed approximately 50 people awaiting helicopter rides:
Instagram user whilstiwasout posted an image of someone identified only as Mike, who was organizing the rescue effort:
The fire shut down several major trails, including all from the top of Nevada Fall to Merced Lake as well as those in the Sunrise Lakes area, the National Park Service said in a statement. Seven helicopters, three air tankers and six hotshot crews were among the resources assigned to fight the blaze.
Approximately 100 people were evacuated from the Little Yosemite Valley area, The Los Angeles Times reported, although it was unclear if that number included the hikers rescued from Half Dome.
Half Dome is one of the more crowded trails in the park, so crowded that in recent years the park service has instituted a lottery system to limit traffic on the famous cables that lead to the top of the dome.
The Meadow Fire is believed to have been started by lightning at some point in the past few weeks, but as of Thursday had been limited to 19 acres, according to YubaNet. On Sunday, however, the fire began to spread so rapidly that it's now visible from space:
— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) September 7, 2014