Yosemite fire burns 282 square miles


The vicious wildfire burning in Yosemite has ravaged 282 square miles, becoming the largest fire in the Sierra’s recorded history.

Containment increased to 20 percent but the number of destroyed structures rose to 101 and some 4,500 structures remained threatened. Firefighters were making stands at Tuolumne City and other mountain communities.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, at least 23 structures have been destroyed.

They also added that more than 3,750 firefighters were battling the blaze, aided by 15 helicopters and 460 fire engines.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to reimburse the state up to 75% of eligible firefighting costs under a grant for managing, mitigating and controlling the fire.

The blaze was just 40 acres when it was discovered near a road in Stanislaus National Forest on Aug. 17, but firefighters had no chance of stopping it in the early days. On its 11th day it had surpassed 179,400 acres, becoming the seventh-largest California wildfire in records dating to 1932.

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.

The 350-mile-long Sierra Nevada is a unique mountain system in the U.S. with its Mediterranean climate, which means four-to-six months of drought every summer.

The fire approached the main reservoir serving San Francisco, but fears that the inferno could disrupt water or hydroelectric power to the city diminished. California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for San Francisco because of the possible threat to the city’s water and electrical infrastructure.