A small wildfire that had been burning in Yosemite since July suddenly become a much bigger wildfire, consuming over 2,500 acres near hiker-favorite Half Dome. Pictures of the blaze (and the terrific amounts of smoke it's generating) are a dramatic look at how quickly a wildfire can move.

Though the fire had been burning on a small scale all summer a few days of windy conditions since late this weekend, threw the fire into high gear, forcing several dozen hikers to be airlifted out of the area. Helicopters, air tankers, and more than a hundred firefighters have been dispatched to control the spread of the fire, which you can see the scale of — both from the ground and from space — below.


The park remains open, though the trails near Half Dome and in parts of Yosemite Valley are (wisely) off limits. Park officials are also closely monitoring the fire for its impact on air quality. Yesterday's photos show clear skies in Yosemite valley:


But, the most recent pictures from today, show the area hazy with smoke (a view the Half Dome webcam confirms), with Yosemite noting that "air quality in Yosemite Valley has deteriorated due to smoke from the Meadow Fire. The shadow of Half Dome is barely visible in this view from Cook's Meadow this morning."


Images: Photos via Yosemite National Park, Satellite image of smoke over the area via NASA Goddard

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