Ninety-nine square miles of Stanislaus National Forest land and private lands have been scorched by the Rim Fire as of tonight. 3,000 homes are under evacuation orders. Outlook is bleak for some.
As of this morning, 0800 hrs. PST August 22, 2013 the InciWeb incident information portal was reporting 53,866 acres charred in the RIm Fire, in Tuolumne County. Tonight, InciWeb reports the fire is up to 63,366 acres, or 99 square miles and climbing fast.
As of today, the entire gated community of Pine Mountain Lake is under evacuation orders by the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department. Residents have been strongly urged to move themselves and their animals out of the area, and to not linger for any reason.
The fire has reached the proportion wherein pyro-cumulus clouds are prevalent throughout the day, peaking every morning and each evening, creating clouds which can easily be seen from Lodi, Ca. which is ninety miles away.
The Tuolumne County Health department has issued a health advisory for individuals with respiratory health issues, the elderly and young to stay indoors as much as possible and to use HEPA NIOSH N-95 masks to reduce particulate inhalation.
The smoke in most of Tuolumne County has been rather extreme every morning due to the prevailing wind patterns and the cool evenings causing the smoke to 'lay down' instead of being lifted thousands of feet in the sky.
The haze in some pockets of the county, such as Jamestown, has been especially heavy.
Because the Rim Fire is now the largest active fire in California, and also is a direct threat to so many homes, an upgraded response has been placed in motion.
MAFFS C-130's (3,000 gallon drops) and the V-LAT DC-10 (12,000 gallon drops) fixed wing aircraft, along with rotary wing Military aircraft have been assigned to the fire.
The Sikorsky S-70 "Firehawk" (1,000 gallon drops) and Sikorsky S-64's (2,500 gallon drops) have been assigned to the effort.
MML reported an enhanced Incident Command System is being utilized at this stage, and is staged in Drew Meadows. The total response to the Rim Fire is about to undergo a significant change as Dick Reynolds, Supervisor of the Expanded Rim Fire Response notes that two Boeing 737 aircraft will be loading personnel and bringing them to Sacramento, Ca. for transport to the fire area.
There are now 1,326 personnel fighting the fire and the additional fire crews will boost that number in several of the fire fighting divisions of the fire.
The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors had requested a declaration of a State of Emergency from Governor Brown, which was finally granted today, Aug 21, 2013. That declaration cleared the way for additional resources from the State Office of emergency services, including more fire fighting equipment.
The State issued emergency declaration may also allow the State of California to request Federal assistance in fighting the fire.
Late this afternoon, the entire Stanislaus National Forest was closed to everyone except those persons specifically authorized to be there for the purpose of fighting the fire.
The winds in the area remain at 6-12 mph and are not helping in the effort to slow this fire down. Yesterday the fire was deemed 5% contained, today only 2% containment is being suggested.
The Rim Fire has the potential to become a very costly and very destructive fire if it breaks through more containment lines in the Pine Mountain Lake, Groveland, or the town of Tuolumne highly inhabited and heavily structure filled areas.
UPDATE: 0630 hrs PST Aug 23, 2013
CalFire now reports 105,620 acres have been scorched by the Rim Fire