Rim Fire - Wednesday Update: Drone Deployed to Assist Firefighters



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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Latest U.S. Forest Service Incident Report

Update: 10:25 p.m. - Drone Deployed to Assist Firefighters

 

The unmanned Predator drones are being used to send real-time images and information to fire officials. The aircraft will help identify where fire activity is located, how it is moving, including locating and identifying spot fires.

The technology will improve the ability to protect life property and natural resources, fire officials say.

As of Monday evening, the fire had claimed 111 structures and has cost $39.2 million, with 4,537 personnel working the incident.

See additional images at the California Air National Guard Facebook Page.

0828 Rim Fire From 30,000 Feet

The Rim Fire as seen Wednesday evening from a commercial airliiner flying at about 30,000 feet. The view is looking south from directly above the smoke plume. The fire's weather system is seen in the distance, with Yosemite National Park to the left edge of the photo. (Al Gibes / Capital Public Radio)

 

Fire Update (From the U.S. Forest Service)
Firefighters used aerial ignitions today to burnout Pilot Ridge on the southern portion of the fire. The burnout planned from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir south to Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park did not occur. Conditions were not conducive to lighting and containing the fire. Firefighters continue to provide structure defense and improve firelines.

The Tuolumne County Sherriff’s Office has lifted the evacuation order and PG&E has restored power to Graham Ranch Road, allowing residents only to return home. Tonight, crews will continue with burning operations as long as weather conditions allow, and will construct and improve firelines.

Park and Forest Closures
Yosemite National Park has closed Tamarack Flat and Yosemite Creek Campgrounds, both located along the Tioga Road. White Wolf Campground and White Wolf Lodge will remain closed. If you have questions about Yosemite National Park please call 209-372-0327 or 209-372-0329.

The Stanislaus National Forest has issued an area closure for the entire Groveland Ranger District and for the Mi-Wok Ranger District east of Highway 108. Additional details are available from the Groveland Ranger District, 209-962-7825

Road Closures
Highway 120 remains closed to all inbound and outbound Yosemite National Park traffic to Crane Flat Campground. A portion of the Tioga Road, from Crane Flat to White Wolf, is closed. Highway 120 east/Tioga Road remains open from White Wolf east to the Tioga Pass entrance. Also closed are Cherry Lake at Highway 120, Evergreen Road and Old Yosemite Road. Highway 120 from Ferretti Road to Buck Meadows remains open only for local residents and business only.

Evacuations and Advisories
A Mandatory Evacuation has been issued for residences north of Old Yosemite Road (Forest Road 2S01). Highway 120 at the Yosemite National Park boundary west to Buck Meadows has been evacuated. An evacuation center is located at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora. An evacuation advisory is in effect from Tuolumne City and the area east of Highway 108 to Pinecrest Lake. An Evacuation Warning has been issued for all residences north of Bull Creek Road (Forest Road 2S02), Bondurant Mine Road, Texas Hill Road, and Wampum Hill. An evacuation center is located at the Greeley Hill Community Center.

Update: 10:30 a.m. - Video From Cockpit During Air Drop on Rim Fire



Ride along in the cockpit with the 146th Airlift Wing of the California Air National Guard as they make a fire retardant drop on the Rim Fire.
 

Update: 7:09 a.m. - Structure Toll Rises, Air Quality Worsens 



Fire officials say that 111 structures have been burned by the Rim Fire, up from 23 yesterday. The loss of a family camp accountis for much of the large increase in property loss.

Containment stands at 23 percent early today, with 187,466 acres burned, making this the seventh largest fire in California history. Officials say higher hunidity over night helped crews gain ground on the blaze.

The recent increase in structures destroyed is due to structures lost at Tuolumne Berkeley Family Camp on Hardin Flat Road, which include 3 commercial properties and 85 tent cabins and outbuildings. Officials haven't specified details of other structure losses.

Approximately 4,500 structures remain threatened in advance of the fire on both the east and west. Several residents remain under mandatory evacuation in the Scotts Ridge area south of highway 120. Evacuation advisories issued to areas from Long Barn north to Pinecrest.

A portion of Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park is closed, starting today, because of the fire. Firefighters are clearing brush in the area to slow the fire’s spread. The National Park says the normally busy route is likely to be closed through the Labor Day Weekend.

The Road leads to the park’s eastern entrance.

The plume of smoke from the Rim Fire has triggered emergency warnings along parts of the eastern Sierra near Carson City, Nevada – more than 100 miles away.
School children were kept inside Tuesday for the second time in a week, people went to hospitals complaining of eye and throat irritation and officials urged people for the first time to avoid all physical activity outdoors.

The smoke from the Rim Fire burning on the western flank of Yosemite National Park continues to affect the air quality in the Tahoe Basin and much of northern Nevada. On Tuesday the Air Quality Index in Gardnerville was at 176, putting it in the “unhealthy” range.

The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources runs the monitoring stations in Gardnerville and Carson City. The department’s JoAnn Kittrell (KITT rell) says children, the elderly and people with health problems are most at risk because of the diminished air quality.

The air quality index briefly surpassed the rare "hazardous" level east of Lake Tahoe before improving Tuesday afternoon. Officials say "very unhealthy" and "unhealthy" conditions should continue through the week, advising residents to stay indoors with windows closed and air conditioning on. Outdoor activity should be reduced, and people are advised to stay hydrated.

For the lates Air Quality update, click here.
0827 Rim Fire Smoke Pilot Peak
Smoke from the Rim Fire as seen from the Pilot Peak area. (USFS-Mike McMillan)

Firefighters made progress on spot fires in the Reynolds Creek drainage and burning operations south of Duckwall Mountain to Skidmore. Crews also were preparing for additional burning operations on the north side of the Tuolumne River.

A fire line has been secured line from Pilot Ridge west towards the Yosemite boundary along Old Yosemite Highway. Aircraft were used to support operations throughout the day.

Firefighters will continue with contingency line construction in advance of the communities in the Highway 108 corridor, as well as providing structure protection. For tonight, crews will continue with line construction, structure defense and preparing for burning operations.

Basic Information

Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Under Investigation
Date of Origin Saturday August 17th, 2013 approx. 03:15 PM
Location Groveland Range District, Stanislaus NF
Incident Commander Wilkins/lawshe

Current Situation

Total Personnel 4,537
Size 192,466 acres
Percent Contained 30%
Fuels Involved

Brush, Oaks, and Pine

Fire Behavior

Fire once again became very active in the afternoon. Running surface fire, torching, crown fire runs and spotting.

Significant Events

Mandatory evacuations south of Highway 120 and north of Old Yosemite Road. Closure of Tioga Road West of Yosemite Creek Picnic Area. Structure defense around Aspen Valley by ground and aerial resources was occurring in the afternoon. An evacuation advisory continues for areas on the Highway 108 corridor from Tuolumne City to Pinecrest. A Forest Closure is in effect for locations near and in advance of the fire. Several locations on the west side of Yosemite National Park have had closures implemented as a result of the fires spread. Contingency planning, indirect line construction and preparation to the east of Highway 108. Access and difficult terrain remain concerns for crews and equipment. Burnout operations were completed along the northwest edge of the fire near Paper Cabin Ridge.

Outlook

Planned Actions

Structure defense north and south of hwy 120 along the southeast edge of the fire from Pilot Ridge to Yosemite National Park. Continued direct and indirect line construction accompanied by burnout operations where accessibility and safety allows along the western edge of the fire. Continued contingency line construction along the northern edge of the fire in advance of the communities of Tuolumne City, Twain Harte and Long Barn. Mopup and contingency line construction in the southwestern edge of the fire. Direct line construction with burnout will continue along the northeastern edge of the fire where fire activity and safety allows. Large burnout operations are planned for the southeastern edge of the fire in Yosemite National Park.

Growth Potential

Extreme

Terrain Difficulty

Extreme

Remarks

Rapid fire growth and extreme fire behavior continue to hamper suppression efforts. A significant utilization and reliance upon aerial resources with heavy air tankers including the VLAT DC-10 and MAFFS is occurring with structure defense preparation of locations in advance of the fires spread, control of spot fires and slowing the fires advancement through terrain inaccessible to ground resources to allow time for indirect line construction to be completed. Type 1 helicopters are providing point protection and cooling areas where direct line construction can be achieved safely.

Approximately 4,500 structures remain threatened in advance of the fire on both the east and west. Fire is expected to continue its eastward spread farther into the west side of Yosemite National Park east of Aspen Valley. Several residents remain under mandatory evacuation in the Scotts Ridge area south of highway 120. Evacuation advisories issued to areas from Long Barn north to Pinecrest.

Due to inaccessible steep terrain and extreme fire behavior suppression efforts on active portions of the fire are being significantly challenged. Heavy reliance on aviation resources has been critical in an effort to slow the fires progress to allow suppression resources to establish indirect control lines in areas where accessibility and safety can be achieved. The availability of heavy aircraft is pertinent to the success of suppression efforts.

 

Current Weather

Wind Conditions 17 mph SW
Temperature 87 degrees
Humidity 22%
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