Explosive western US wildfire 23 percent contained (Update 2)

August 28, 2013 by Brian Skoloff
The Rim Fire burns through trees near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. Firefighters gained some ground Tuesday against the huge wildfire burning forest lands in the western Sierra Nevada, including parts of Yosemite National Park. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The giant wildfire burning at the edge of Yosemite National Park is 30 percent contained, U.S. fire officials said Wednesday

The U.S. Forest Service said the fire has now consumed 301 square miles (780 sq. kilometers).

Fire officials said they expect full containment in three weeks but that the fire will burn for much longer than that.

"It's looking better every day," said incident spokesman Glen Stratton. "So far everything is holding."

The fire in northern California has destroyed 111 structures and threatened water supplies, hydroelectric power and giant sequoia trees—a state icon. Some 4,500 structures remained threatened.

Stratton said the fire was burning itself out as it approached the reservoir that supplies the city of San Francisco with water.

The fire, one of the largest in state history, also has caused air pollution problems in California cities far from the scene.

Forestry experts said unnaturally long intervals between wildfires and years of drought primed the Sierra Nevada mountains for the explosive fire in the rugged landscape.

Federal forest ecologists said historic policies of fire suppression to protect timber interests left a century's worth of fuel in the fire's path.

Firefighters enter a grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park in this photo made on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, and released by the National Park Service on Tuesday. Yosemite crews continue to protect the Merced and Tuolumne groves of giant sequoias less than 10 miles from the front lines of the Rim Fire, which has ravaged 282 square miles by Tuesday, the biggest in the Sierra's recorded history. (AP Photo/National Park Service)

Two years of drought and a constant slow warming across the Sierra Nevada also worked to turn the Rim Fire into an inferno.

For years, forest ecologists have warned that Western wildfires will only get worse.

A fire crew digs a fire line near Yosemite National Park in this photo made on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, and released by the US Forest Service on Tuesday. Firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire, which has ravaged 282 square miles by Tuesday, the biggest in the Sierra's recorded history. (AP Photo/US Forest Service, Mike McMillan)

The California National Guard launched an unmanned aerial drone Wednesday in an effort to get an early look at fires. A similar unmanned NASA aircraft has been used for fire surveys in past years.

Explore further: Squelching Sierra fires left forest ready to burn

Related Stories

Squelching Sierra fires left forest ready to burn

August 28, 2013

Unnaturally long intervals between wildfires and years of drought primed the Sierra Nevada for the explosive conflagration burning the rugged landscape on the edge of Yosemite National Park, forestry experts say.

NASA image: Rim Fire in California

August 26, 2013

The Rim Fire began in California on August 17, 2013. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. This fire is treacherous and has tripled in size in the last few days to now over 106,000 acres. The fire had been 5% ...

NASA image: Rim Fire Update Aug. 26, 2013

August 26, 2013

The Rim Fire in northeastern California continues to burn on the Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and the Bureau of Land Management and State responsibility land. This fire began on August 17, 2013 and ...

Recommended for you

Mountain glaciers shrinking across the West

October 22, 2017

Until recently, glaciers in the United States have been measured in two ways: placing stakes in the snow, as federal scientists have done each year since 1957 at South Cascade Glacier in Washington state; or tracking glacier ...

Carbon coating gives biochar its garden-greening power

October 20, 2017

For more than 100 years, biochar, a carbon-rich, charcoal-like substance made from oxygen-deprived plant or other organic matter, has both delighted and puzzled scientists. As a soil additive, biochar can store carbon and ...

Cool roofs have water saving benefits too

October 20, 2017

The energy and climate benefits of cool roofs have been well established: By reflecting rather than absorbing the sun's energy, light-colored roofs keep buildings, cities, and even the entire planet cooler. Now a new study ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.