Yosemite Fire Cracks Top 20 Largest California Wildfires

The wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park reached a grim milestone over the weekend. The Rim Fire, at 125,000 acres, is the 16th largest California wildfire since 1932.

CalFire announced that the week-old fire, whose origins are not yet known, continues to burn out of control near the iconic park.

The fire forced an additional 1,600 homes to be evacuated on Friday, reports The Modesto Bee. Sheriff’s deputies went door-to-door in Tuolumne City and Ponderosa Hills to urge residents there to flee the approaching blaze.

Along with those two towns, the evacuation advisory also applied to other communities to the east of Sonora, including Soulsbyville and Willow Springs. However, those communities were notified by reverse 911.

Sheriff’s deputies have issued about 6,000 evacuation advisories for the eight-day-old fire and about 260 mandatory evacuations. The fire continues to head west toward Tuolumne City and east into Yosemite National Park. About 11,000 acres of the park have been affected.

The fire is moving incredibly fast and remains stubborn at just five percent containment, notes The Los Angeles Times. Crews working to contain the Yosemite fire are battling steep terrain, warm weather, and low humidity. The blaze also has a tendency to burn the tops of trees, creating a so-called crown fire that skips easily across forest land.

More than 2,600 firefighters are on the scene being assisted by trench-digging bulldozers and water-dropping aircraft. The attempted containment and diversion tricks appeared to be holding the fire at bay in some spots, but it was tough going. The fire jumped a line cut by bulldozers three times on Saturday, though firefighters and hot-shot crews were able to hold it back.

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However, the fire continued to make its way through the rugged terrain almost completely unchecked. No containment date has been set either for one of California’s largest wildfires in recent history. Despite the grim outlook, there was good news from Saturday’s report.

Firefighters were able to gain containment of the fire near the Hetch Hetchy water and power system, which supplies the majority of water and electricity to San Francisco. Utility crews were able to access the area and assess the damage to two of the three hydroelectric power stations located there.

While the Rim Fire burns nearby, Yosemite National Park remains open — for now.

[Image via ShutterStock]