Covering the fight against California's wildfires

Rim Fire Near Yosemite Surpasses 224,000 Acres, 45 Percent Contained

By Lisa Fernandez
|  Monday, Sep 2, 2013  |  Updated 10:33 AM PDT
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    Firefighters are continually making headway in fighting the Rim Fire on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park: On Sunday, they had contained 45 percent of the blaze, which has now charred a total of 224,777 acres of forest.

    It also now has the dubious distinction of being California's fourth largest wildfire in state history, according to CAL FIRE. The fire has burned nearly 350 square miles, essentially twice the size of San Jose or nearly 7.5 times the size of San Francisco.

    Increasingly confident fire officials said they expect to fully surround the blaze in three weeks, although it will burn for much longer than that.

    On Sunday, moist air slowed down the spread of the flames. Firefighters hope that can help speed up containment.

    On Saturday, the smoke in Yosemite Valley was so thick it was difficult to see Yosemite Park's Half Dome. On Sunday, however, air quality in the Valley improved, but people there are still being told to avoid any strenuous outdoor activity.

    Some of the nearly 5,000 firefighters, including strike teams from San Francisco and Mountain View, returned home this weekend after spending days on the fire lines.

    MORE: Rim Fire Incident Command Page

    The Rim Fire fire has been raging in the heart of the Stanislaus National Forest since Aug. 17, and investigators said they may know what may have sparked the massive blaze.

    Investigators said Marijuana growers could be to blame. A Tuolumne County Fire official told community members that investigators are looking into that possibility.

    A total of 5,500 structures still remained threatened, and so far, 111 buildings were damaged - 11 of them were homes, despite earlier reports that 31 homes had burned. Nearly 5,000 firefighters have now been called in to battle the blaze.

    As of Friday, several evacuations orders, including one for Tuolumne City, had been lifted. But Yosemite National Park - which has remained open during the entirety of the fire - had closed Tamarack Flat and Yosemite Creek Campgrounds.

    The biggest loss was the complete destruction of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, a family camp run by the city of Berkeley since 1922. Friends of the camp set up a Facebook page to collect old photos of good times at the camp. As of Thursday, the Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp Photo Memorial had 1,732 friends.

    The other camps in the area, including San Jose Family Camp, San Francisco's Camp Mather and Camp Tawonga were evacuated safely shortly after the fire broke out.

    Check out an interactive map via Esri.com.


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