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Deaths, plague casting pall over Yosemite

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — The deaths of two young campers killed when a tree branch fell on their tent and a campground closure because of plague cast a pall over California's Yosemite National Park at the height of the summer tourist season.

The large limb from a black oak fell on the tent of the two young campers as they slept in the heart of the park Friday, Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said. The campers, described only as under 18, were both dead when rangers arrived at the crowded Upper Pines Campground in response to 911 calls, he said.

What led to the limb falling, and its exact size, were not immediately revealed.

Large fallen limbs are a common occurrence at Yosemite, and they have occasionally led to deaths. The most recent was in 2012, when a park concession employee died when his tent cabin was hit. Two tourists were killed and nine were injured in 1985 when a 25-foot branch fell onto an open-air tram.

Meanwhile on Friday, park officials said they will temporarily close another popular campsite after two squirrels died of plague in the area.

Tuolumne Meadows Campground will close from noon Monday through noon Friday so authorities can treat the area with a flea-killing insecticide. Campers had their reservations canceled at the 304-site campground so the insecticide can be sprayed into rodent "burrow holes," the California Department of Health said Friday.

Plague is carried by rodents and is spread by fleas, but transmission between people is rare.

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