Thursday, August 29, 2013

Yosemite Rim Fire finally slows in encouraging sign

Mike Rosenberg in the San Jose Mercury News: After the enormous Rim Fire ambushed the area in and around Yosemite National Park over the last week and a half, firefighters are finally starting to get a handle on the blaze and are eyeing full containment within two weeks.

The fire burned about 300 acres an hour on average during the 24-hour span ending Wednesday evening, down from 1,000 acres an hour the day before. It spread 10 times faster, burning more than 3,000 acres an hour, during its peak last week.

About 4,500 firefighters had the largest fire in the nation 30 percent contained, significantly up from 20 percent a day before. Full containment is now expected by Sept. 10. "A lot of that has to do with the fact that the weather is cooperating a lot more with us," said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant, noting temperatures have cooled and humidity has risen.

Berlant said the constant air drops and bulldozer-dug dirt lines around the perimeter of the fire have paid off. "There's a lot of work that's been done over the past week and a half now to really put this fire to bed," Berlant said. "We are hoping that we've turned the corner."

Also on Wednesday, the California National Guard said it had launched an unmanned aircraft typically used in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to fly over the fire. The drone isn't directly fighting the fire, but rather gathering information that firefighters on the ground can use to know where to go....

The Rim Fire approaching the Groveland Ranger Station in the Stanislaus National Forest. Shot by the US Department of Agriculture, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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