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Yosemite National Park to remain closed after wind damage

Yosemite National Park will remain closed through the weekend after high winds that battered much of California knocked down two giant sequoias and caused millions of dollars in damage.

The park hoped to reopen Tuesday except for areas south of Yosemite Valley, including one entrance, that will remain shut to visitors, the park said Thursday.

High winds that began Monday swept through the state, toppling trees and power lines and knocking out electricity to about 300,000 homes and businesses. Utilities also intentionally blacked out tens of thousands of customers to prevent fires erupting from damaged or downed electrical equipment.

The winds eased Tuesday in the northern and central areas and Wednesday in the south.

Yosemite was struck Monday night. Two giant sequoias in the lower grove of Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias were among trees that fell, park spokesman Scott Gediman told the Sacramento Bee.

Trees also crushed trucks and damaged buildings, including employee homes. Also crushed were a boardwalk and bathroom installed during a $40 million restoration that was finished in 2018, Gediman said.

Crews were working to repair downed electrical lines, especially in the Wawona community, a south park area that remained without power on Thursday, Gediman said.

Among the areas closed until deemed safe was the Tunnel View, a scenic viewpoint on State Route 41 in the Wawona area that offers sweeping views of such icons as Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall.

The park is only open to day visitors. Campgrounds and lodges have been closed for several weeks because the park is trying to reduce the chances of visitors spreading the coronavirus.

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