Monday, September 2, 2013

Rim Fire near Yosemite now 60 percent contained

Lisa Fernandez in NBC Bay Area: Firefighters battling the stubborn Rim Fire near Yosemite finally contained more than half of the wildfire on Monday, reaching 60 percent containment. Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant issued the good news early on Labor Day, adding that the Rim Fire has now charred 228,670 acres, or 357 square miles – more than seven times the size of San Francisco.

The containment should only grow, he added, as the weather forecast for Northern California should see cooler temperatures and even some possible rain. Still, the expected full containment date is Oct. 20.

The fire has been burning since Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest.  According to one fire official who is not officially charged with investigating the fire, it's possible that illegal marijuana growers could be to blame.

Todd McNeal, fire chief in the town of Twain Harte, west of Yosemite, said at an Aug. 23 community meeting, captured on YouTube, that officials "know it's human caused, there’s no lightning in the area. … (We) highly suspect that it might be some sort of illicit grove, marijuana grow-type thing.”    His comments come at the 6:24 minute mark of a 20-minute briefing, and he underscores there is no official cause, just that it's "highly suspect."

...Officially, however, there is no cause listed for the fire according to the U.S. Forest Service. On Monday, Rim Fire spokesman Brian Haines told NBC Bay Area that the investigators have still not determine what sparked the blaze, and at this point, the marijuana theory is just "an opinion."...

The Rim Fire viewed from the International Space Station, August 26, 2013

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