Camp Tawonga – the children’s summer camp founded by the San Francisco Jewish community in 1925 – took all of its campers and staff back to the Bay Area yesterday due to smoke in the air from the Ferguson Forest Fire. While the fire itself poses no physical threat, the Tuolumne County Health Department has issued a Health Advisory to evacuate due to increased levels of smoke.
Camp leaders are optimistic that they will be able to return to Camp this Sunday, August 5, assuming they get the green light from the Health Department.
Ironically, it is the fire fighting effort itself that is exacerbating the air quality. The increased smoke is the result of controlled back-burns, the intentionally lit fires that establish complete fire breaks between the northern edge of the fire and Camp. This is good for Tawonga in every way except that it creates more smoke. CAL FIRE has shared with Camp leaders that the controlled back-burning is likely to end on Thursday, and that by Sunday, the air quality in Camp will be safe.