Today Crucial in Yosemite Fire Battle

Rim fire still growing amid strong winds

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 26, 2013 3:43 AM CDT | Updated Aug 26, 2013 7:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – The massive wildfire raging in and around Yosemite National Park is still growing, and forecasters warn that today will pose a huge challenge for firefighters. Progress has been made at the western edge of the fire, but it is still pushing to the north and east and strong winds spreading the fire from treetop to treetop are likely to hamper containment efforts today, a National Weather Service meteorologist tells the Los Angeles Times. "If they can make it until Tuesday, it looks like conditions will be better," he says.

The Rim Fire, one of the largest in California's history, is still just 7% contained despite the efforts of 2,800 firefighters from across the state."This fire has continued to pose every challenge that there can be on a fire: inaccessible terrain, strong winds, dry conditions. It's a very difficult firefight," a forestry official tells the AP. Communities in the fire's path have been evacuated. In San Francisco, where a state of emergency has been declared, drinking water quality has not been affected despite the fire's proximity to the main reservoir supplying the city, though two hydropower plants have been shut down and the city has had to spend $600,000 buying power elsewhere to make up the shortfall, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The blaze has created its own weather pattern, and is threatening two groves of the planet's oldest trees.

With winds gusting to 50 mph on Sierra mountain ridges and flames jumping from treetop to treetop, hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to protect  communities in the path of the fire.
With winds gusting to 50 mph on Sierra mountain ridges and flames jumping from treetop to treetop, hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to protect communities in the path of the fire.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A firefighter watches for spot fires during a burnout operation while battling the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park.
A firefighter watches for spot fires during a burnout operation while battling the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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