Progress battling the massive Rim Fire has been slow to come and while some gains have been made, the blaze continued to grow and now encompasses more than 280 square miles.
The blaze has already intruded on Yosemite National Park and were perilously close to its infamous giant sequoia trees. Park officials were placing sprinklers in two groves of sequoias not far from the fire.
The park remains open and is expected to remain so during the Labor Day weekend. The 64 square miles that have burned within the park are backcountry areas not frequented by visitors.
Officials in the Bay Area continue to closely monitor the fire that threatens water supplies and electrical power lines essential to the region.
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir which is the main water supply for San Francisco has thus far not been impacted by the fire despite flames burning to the edge of the water. Officials have begun drawing water out of the reservoir and moving it to reservoirs closer to the city.
Power generation from O'Shaughnessy Dam was shut down last week so as to not threaten firefighting efforts. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said the powerhouses would not be restored to operation until an evaluation of high-voltage lines for damage could be completed.
Now in its eleventh day, the fire burning in thick forests in northern California’s has been estimated to be 20% contained.
While certainly good news, fire behavior has been classified as ‘extreme’ and agencies are far from gaining an upper hand on the 179,481 acre blaze which is now the largest ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada. The Rim Fire now also ranks as the seventh largest in California history since record keeping began in 1932.
Sparse population in the rugged country has allowed the impact on people to be relatively minimal.
Approximately two dozen structures have been destroyed however and mandatory evacuations are in place for areas south of Highway 120 and north of Old Yosemite Road. An estimated 4,500 residences are threatened by the fire.
Parts of Stanislaus National Forest within the blaze’s perimeter and at threat from its advancement are closed.
CAL FIRE, the primary state agency responsible for fighting fires in the Golden State, said that 3,752 personnel were assisting in the efforts.
Nearly 500 fire engines and over 100 other related pieces of firefighting equipment including water tankers are on the ground. Airborne tankers including the military’s Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) C-130 Hercules aircraft and more than a dozen helicopters are battling the fire from the air.
On the net: