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Rim Fire - Tuesday Update: Firefighters Make Progess, Containment Stays at 20 Percent

Photo courtesy CAL OES

Photo courtesy CAL OES


Update: 11 p.m. - Firefighters Make Progess, Containment Stays at 20 Percent

Firefighters are progressing on the north side of the Tuolumne River, as additional crews are now working the incident. The Rim Fire has grown to 184,481 acres, with 20 percent containment as of Tuesday night, with 4,081 personnel on the scene.

Mandatory evacuations remain in place for areas south of Highway 120 and north of Old Yosemite Road. Firefighting efforts on structure defense are in progress around Aspen Valley, with both air and ground resources.

Progress on spot fires in the Reynolds Creed drainage is occurring, and crews are preparing to conduct additional burning operations on the north side of the Tuolumne River. 

The recent increase in structures destroyed is due to structures lost at Tuolumne Berkeley Family Camp, which include 3 commercial properties and 85 tent cabins and outbuildings. 

Look for additional updates Wednesday morning.

Update: 5:35 p.m. - Road Closure in Yosemite Set for Wednesday

A portion of Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park will be closed temporarily starting at noon Wednesday, as firefighters will be focusing on that area. Park officials anticipat the road will be closed at least through the Labor Day weekend.
The full release:

A portion of the Tioga Road, from Crane Flat to White Wolf, will be temporarily closed to all vehicular traffic beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, August 28, 2013, at 12:00 noon.  The closure is necessary for firefighters to perform fire suppression activities along the road.  This portion of the road is anticipated to be closed at least through Labor Day Weekend.  The park will issue an update as conditions allow for the reopening of the road. 

“The work that will be performed over the next few days is instrumental in suppressing the Rim Fire within Yosemite.  The safety of the firefighters working along the road is our paramount concern,” stated park Superintendent Don Neubacher.  

Tamarack Flat and Yosemite Creek Campgrounds, both located along the Tioga Road within the closure, will remain closed during the fire suppression efforts.  White Wolf Campground and White Wolf Lodge will remain closed.  The Tioga Road will remain open east of White Wolf to the Tioga Pass Entrance.  The Porcupine Flat Campground, the Tuolumne Meadows Campground, and all visitor services within Tuolumne Meadows will remain open. 

Highway 41, from the southern portion of the park, and Highway 140, from the western portion of the park, will remain open.  Both of these roads provide access to Yosemite Valley.

A fund to help the park restore trails, facilities, and wildlife habitat has been established by the Yosemite Conservancy.  People wishing to contribute to the fund can donate online at yosemiteconservancy.org/fire.  People can also donate via mail by sending donations to Yosemite Conservancy 101 Montgomery, Suite 1700 San Francisco, CA 95104.

For up-to-date Yosemite information regarding the Rim Fire, please visit the park’s website at: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/rimfire.htm


Update: 5:30 p.m. - Smoke Covers Tahoe Area, Visibility at South Lake Tahoe Airport Down to 3/4 Mile

The National Weather Service is reporting that visibility at the South Lake Tahoe Airport has been reduced to 0.75 miles, as smoke from the Rim Fire is blanketing the region. 
For the latest air quality update, follow these links:

Update: 12:20 p.m. - Satellite images show growth of Rim Fire

0827 Rim Fire Growth - Satellite Photos
A series of NASA satellite images showing the growth of the Rim Fire. The outline is Yosemite National Park. Images were made on four consecutive nights. (NASA Earth Observatory)

Update: 10 a.m. - Fire Grows Another 20,000 Acres Overnight

The Rim Fire grew to 179,481 acres overnight, as crews continue to construct lines throughout the fire. Containment is 20 percent, with 3,752 personnel working the incident. 

Map showing the expansion of the Rim Fire since is started on Aug. 17.
0826 Rim Fire Expansion Map

Update: 7:12 a.m. - Evacuation Areas Expand as Fire Keeps Growing

The Rim Fire grew by more than 10,000 acres Monday, jumping across roads and prompting officials to expand mandatory and advisory evacuation areas. Air tankers and helicopters are proving to be the most effective tools in slowing the fire, but dry fuels and heavy winds are keeping the fire moving in several directions.

Mandatory evacuations are in place south of Highway 120 and north of Old Yosemite Road. An evacuation advisory has been extended on the Highway 108 corridor. The new evacuation advisory is from Long Barn 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.

Evacuation advisories are still in effect for Tuolumne City and nearby areas along the Highway 108 corridor.

Ground crews are attacking spot fires and building fire lines in several areas of the fire. The blaze grew to 160,980 acres, with about 21,000 acres - about 34 square miles - of that inside Yosemite National Park. The fire is now 20 percent contained, with 3,678 people assigned to the incident.

Weather conditions have been a challenge for firefighters. “With the weather, the dry fuels, spot fires are starting up to a mile away from the main fire front as embers are blown in the wind across those lines.,” says Bjorn Fredrickson of the U.S. Forest Service.

The dificult and dangerous terrain is also a concern. After the deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona this summer, Groveland District Ranger Maggie Dowd says crews are exercising extreme caution.

“This canyon has taken some lives in the past. And it’s just amazing right now that we have this safety record. We’ve had some minor injuries – a dislocated shoulder, otherwise poison oak, bee stings. Knock on wood,” she says.

Meanwhile, officials say they expect no water or power disruptions from ash raining on the main reservoir that supplies San Francisco. While flames reached the edge of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, crews are confident they’ll be able to protect the infrastructure.

The Rim Fire began ten days ago, and the White House has promised to help pay for the cost of fighting the fire.


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 4,081
Size 184,481 acres
Percent Contained 20%
Fuels Involved

Brush, Oaks, and Pine

Fire Behavior

Fire activity began early on the east side of the fire. Long range spotting, along with active crown fire, was occurring prior to noon and continued through the afternoon. Active fire occurred as well along the Northern fire perimeter in the mid-afternoon

Significant Events

Mandatory evacuations south of Highway 120 and north of Old Yosemite Road. 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.


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


Terrain Difficulty



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. 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 16 mph SW
Temperature 87 degrees
Humidity 24%

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