Wedding bells a casualty of massive Yosemite blaze

Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:28am EDT
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By Ronnie Cohen

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - 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.   Continued...

A tanker drops retardant on the Rim Fire in this undated United States Forest Service handout photo near Yosemite National Park, California, released to Reuters August 30, 2013. Fire crews battling to outflank a monster wildfire inside Yosemite National Park made headway on Friday in confining flames to wilderness areas but were powerless to salvage the region's sputtering tourist economy at the end of its peak summer tourist season. REUTERS/Mike McMillan/U.S. Forest Service/Handout via Reuters