Yosemite Rim Fire 30 Percent Contained as Costs Balloon
Firefighters in California are continuing to make progress when it comes to fighting the massive wildfire in Yosemite.
By Friday, the Rim fire was finally 32 percent contained. Evacuation orders in Tuolumne City, Soulsbyville, and Willow Spring were lifted. That's a big change from the start of the week when crews — still unable to quell the flames due to high winds, arid land, and mountainous terrain — were only able to reach about 7 percent containment.
The fire is the fifth-largest in California's history and has burned some 199,237 acres thus far. While tens of thousands of acres within the park have been charred by the flames, the popular tourist area of Yosemite Valley has escaped unscathed for now.
So far, the fire has destroyed more than 100 buildings, including about 30 homes. Alison Hesterly, a Rim fire information officer told the Los Angeles Times that the forward spread of the fire has slowed. “The fire is not having erratic growth like it was before,” she said.
Crews are setting up controlled burns ahead of the flames to prevent the blaze from moving toward the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which provides drinking water for the city of San Francisco.
More than 4,900 firefighters are involved in battling the fire, which has caused costs to jump to nearly $50 million. And while progress has been made, there's still much to do. Officials expect it to take two to three more weeks before the fire is fully contained. After that, the area will reportedly continue to smolder until heavy rain, or even snow arrive in a few months. "This is going to be a tough fire," said Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service.
The Rim fire started on August 17. The cause of the ongoing blaze is still under investigation.