The combined task force held town hall meetings today to offer the latest information along with encouraging news regarding the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County.
Today August 24, 2013 was the day many residents of Tuolumne County were waiting for, a day with some good news about the Rim Fire which has been chewing its way through thousands of acres of trees, brush and at least 11 homes since it began on August 17th.
The good news was brief at the town hall meetings held today, but it was the best of news available. The Rim Fire has been held to 125,620 acres today stated Deputy Incident Commander Mike Dewitt.
The combination of cooler, less windy weather, along with a massive air attack effort by increased air resources appears to have been successful in slowing the growth of the fire so far today. Dewitt was quick to point out that there is still an enormous amount of work to do in gaining full control of the fire, but portions of the geography are now able to be utilized to slow the rate of growth.
Fire lines have been strengthened in the Pine Mountain Lake subdivision and some of the advisory evacuations have been lifted in sections of Pine Mountain Lake and Buck Meadows as of 1800 hrs August 24, 2013 according to both Dewitt and InciWeb.
Mandatory evacuation of some sections of Pine Mountain Lake do remain in effect at this time. Dewitt stressed the need for caution in the burned out areas due to trees having root fires which may burn for weeks to come. Those trees weakened by fire may fall at any time in the near future with either wind or rain leading to loss of stability.
Jerry Snyder, the Forest Service Spokesperson offered several items of information on where to go for more information after the town hall meeting was finished, along with relevant data on forest closures in effect at this time.
Deputy Sheriff Scott Johnson, the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson , noted that more than 60 additional officers from throughout the San Joaquin Valley had been brought in to provide security for the homeowners, assist in evacuation notifications and handle traffic concerns in the affected areas of the county.
All in all, the meeting was able to give the residents a better picture of what they face, the reasons for the continued access restrictions in evacuation areas and what to look for in the coming days.
Deputy Incident Commander Dewitt suggested he was guardedly optimistic that with the resources now at hand, the fire could be largely under control in one more week. The additional destruction possible in that week was not discussed.
The caveat to a reduced fire incident presence is in the weather. While clear weather prevails at this time, the National Weather Service is predicting that thunderstorms with rain and lightning is possible on Monday or Tuesday.
Renewed lightning may create new problems in the high country, despite the additional rainfall, due to the extremely low moisture content of the forest fuel. Dewitt noted that much of the deadwood in the forest is currently at a 6% moisture content, along with live vegetation only at 60% of normal