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As we approach the three-week mark for the Rim Fire, there is good news coming from the fire lines:
• The latest from the Joint Fire Command and the National Park Service is that the Rim Fire is now at 80% containment. “Containment” means that fire crews have a containment line—either a bulldozer line, fire retardant, a back fire, or a hand line—around the fire’s perimeter. Within this containment, the fire is still active and burning.
• All evacuation advisories and mandatory evacuations have been lifted in all of Mariposa and Tuolumne counties.
• Firefighters are being released, with the total personal dropping below 4,000, at 3,975.
• Total acres burned (as of yesterday morning): 237,341 (370 square miles)
The map below shows the daily growth of the fire, including back fires set by fire crews. In the first days of the fire, the growth was described as explosive, as the flames roared through forest that hadn’t burned in nearly 100 years, as federal budget restraints restricted the amount of fire prevention and forest thinning.
When the fire reached the boundary of Yosemite National Park, weather conditions did contribute to a faster spread as the fire approached Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, however the flames slowed substantially compared to the first days of the fire. The National Park Service has a policy to let lighting-strike fires burn, which helps with the forest’s health and reduces the amount of devastating fires.
Yesterday there was minimal growth on the Rim Fire. An updated acreage is not available because last night’s infrared flight was grounded due to mechanical difficulties. On the southeast flank, control lines are holding well, and last night’s firing operations were successful off the Tioga Road (photo above, click to enlarge). Today the main fire is expected to advance towards the Tioga Road and areas burned out last night.
Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist through the weekend. Winds gusting up to 18 to 25 mph out of the SSE could challenge containment lines on the fire’s northeast flanks. Fire crews are working to improve containment lines on the north flank. Crews are also continuing mop-up and improvement of containment lines on the fires western flank.
YOSEMITE & FOREST CLOSURES
Yosemite National Park has closed Tamarack Flat and Yosemite Creek Campgrounds, both located along Tioga Road. White Wolf Campground and White Wolf Lodge remain closed. The Stanislaus National Forest has issued an area closure for the entire Groveland Ranger District and for the Mi-Wok Ranger District east of Highway 108.
Highway 120 remains closed from Buck Meadows to 1 ½ miles east of White Wolf. Highway 120 east/Tioga Road remains open from 1 ½ miles east of White Wolf to the Tioga Pass entrance. Cherry Lake Road is closed at Highway 120. Evergreen Road and Old Yosemite Road are also closed. Highway 120 from Ferretti Road to Buck Meadows remains open for local residents and businesses only.
IMAPCT ON UPCOMING WORKSHOPS
[imageeffect type=”none” align=”alignleft” lightbox=”yes” width=”200″ height=”300″ alt=”” url=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/YOSW_DescV_SentinelRock.jpg” ]As of today, no areas within Yosemite National Park that have burned or are immediately threatened are areas that we visit and photograph during our workshops.
The fire has no impact on our upcoming “Advanced Photography: The Zen of Thinking” course next month and the workshop is proceeding as scheduled. The workshop is held mostly in the southern portion of the park, with some photography in Yosemite Valley.
Also, following the Eastern Sierra & Owens Valley workshop in late October, participants venture over Tioga Pass and into Yosemite for continued photography. It is still too early to determine if the fire will force travel changes due to the closure of Tioga Road.
(However, Tioga Road is sometimes closed in late October, not due to fire but due to snow!)