Yosemite Fire 'Will Burn Until Snow Flies'

But firefighters are gaining ground

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 27, 2013 4:58 AM CDT | Updated Aug 27, 2013 7:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – The giant Rim fire near Yosemite National Park has now scorched an area the size of Chicago and is still growing, but firefighters are making steady progress. Officials say the fire is now around 20% contained and the 3,700 firefighters battling it are gaining ground as the blaze climbs out of steep ravines. "The fire will burn until the snow flies," a park ranger tells the Los Angeles Times. "But today, we finally had a chance to box it in." Only around 2% of the park itself has burned and though more of it will burn, authorities have vowed to do everything in their power to protect the iconic Yosemite Valley.

The fire has been raining ash on the reservoir that supplies San Francisco with most of its water, but officials say it has not sunk as far as the intake valves and the city's supply should not be affected, the AP reports. As crews continue to bulldoze firebreaks and burn vegetation in the fire's path, biologists are beginning to assess the blaze's effect on wildlife. Bald eagle nests in the area are being monitored, and a group of endangered turtles has been found stranded near where their marshy habitat burned. "We're hoping to deliver some water to those turtles," a Forest Service biologist says. "We might also drag some brush in to give them cover."

The view from one of the National Guard helicopters fighting the blaze.
The view from one of the National Guard helicopters fighting the blaze.   (AP Photo/U.S. California Air National Guard, Master Sgt. Julie Avey)
A fire truck drives past burning trees as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park.
A fire truck drives past burning trees as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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