Wedding bells a casualty of massive Yosemite blaze

Wedding bells a casualty of massive Yosemite blaze

SAN FRANCISCO - Add fairy tale weddings to the list of casualties from the mammoth wildfire blazing in and around Yosemite National Park.

Hawaii couple Katie Sprouse, 33, and Jamil Folio, 36, spent a year making plans to exchange vows near the scenic park, where they were set to tie the knot before 70 relatives and friends on Saturday night - until the blaze started burning.

The so-called Rim Fire left the pair, who live in Maui, and two other couples with wedding dates at the evacuated Evergreen Lodge scrambling to make other arrangements, according to the Hawaii couple and lodge co-owner Lee Zimmerman.

"I had everything planned six months ago," Sprouse, an archeologist, told Reuters. "A week ago Friday, as I was packing to leave, the lodge called me to say it wasn't going to happen."

Fallout from the wildfire, the fifth largest on record in California after charring an area the size of Kansas City, Missouri, also forced the cancellation of the Strawberry Music Festival, a biannual bluegrass jamboree where Sprouse and Folio met two years ago.

On this holiday weekend, one of Yosemite's busiest periods, thousands of tourists have had to revise their travel plans after the fire crossed into the park and forced road closures at the premier tourist destination.

The fire has ravaged already struggling area businesses.

Proprietors had been counting on a healthy summer season to carry them through the slow winter months, particularly after an outbreak of the potentially deadly rodent-borne hantavirus scared off tourists last year.

Park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said the inferno had burned 6 percent of the landmark's 748,000 acres (302,705 hectares) and forced the closure of 4 of 13 campgrounds.

Some 4 million people visit Yosemite each year, with most going during the peak months of June through August. Some 620,000 normally visit the park in August alone, but due to the fire, attendance has dropped.

"It's not super substantial," Cobb said of the drop, "but it is noticeable."

The park's most popular areas, including Yosemite Valley with the iconic Half Dome and El Capitan rock formations, remain open, Cobb said.

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