- Posted August 27, 2013 by
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Wildfires blazing near you
The Monster Rim Wildfire Chars 15,000 Acres Within Yosemite National Park
August 26, 2013 - The Monster Rim Wildfire Chars 15,000 Acres Within Yosemite National Park - 149,780 Acres Already Burned, Roughly THE SIZE OF CHICAGO; 23 Buildings Destroyed; State Of Emergency In Effect As The National Weather Service Says It's "HIGHEST PRIORITY IN THE COUNTRY NOW"; Threatens Some 4,500 Structures, Water And Power Supplies; 2,000-Year-Old Giant Sequoias Trees In Danger; 15 Percent Contained!
August 26, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A California wildfire that has scorched an area roughly the size of Chicago near Yosemite National Park was 15 percent contained Monday morning — a jump from 7 percent the previous night, officials said.
But the so-called Rim Fire, stretching 234 square miles, still threatens some 4,500 structures as well as the power and water utilities in San Francisco, roughly 200 miles to the west. It has already charred some 149,780 acres.
The raging flames also loomed over towering sequoias that are among the largest and oldest living things on the planet. The iconic trees can withstand fire, but brutal conditions — including harsh winds and thick brush — have prompted park employees to take extra precautions in the Tuolumne and Merced groves, according to the AP.
The towns of Tuolumne and Mi-Wuk Village and smaller communities between them were under voluntary evacuation Sunday, said Dick Fleishman with the U.S. Forest Service. Evacuation advisories were lifted for Pine Mountain Lake and Buck Meadows. "We still have homes that are risk," he said. An evacuation center was set up in the Sonora, Calif. for those who left their homes.
"It's the highest priority fire in the country right now because of its location, because Yosemite National Park is at risk. It's not just a national treasure, it's a world treasure," Fleishman said.
“All of the plants and trees in Yosemite are important, but the giant sequoias are incredibly important both for what they are and as symbols of the National Park System,” park spokesman Scott Gediman told the AP.
Firefighters were hoping to advance on the flames Monday but strong winds were threatening push the blaze closer to Tuolumne City and nearby communities, according to the wire service.
"This fire has continued to pose every challenge that there can be on a fire," said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Some 3,678 firefighters have been drafted in to tackle the fire that continues to threaten thousands of rural homes surrounding the popular tourist destination.
The fire has already destroyed 23 structures, including all of the popular Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp, an institution founded in 1922.
"I'm just so sad on so many levels," Janice Lin of Berkeley told NBCBayArea.com. Lin had been going to the camp with her children for years.
More than 12 helicopters and a half-dozen fixed wing tankers were dropping water and retardant from the air Sunday.