The fire in the Sierra Nevada’s

Northern California’s Rim Fire, has now burned 192,737 acres in its 13 day blaze.

The fire began in the Grovland Ranger district part of the Stanislaus National Forest on Saturday August 17th at approximately 3:15 p.m. As of this morning the fire is 30% contained, up 7% from yesterday’s containment.

The rim fire is burning under perfect conditions; the Sierra Nevada mountain range has experienced a drought over the past few years and the area ablaze has not burned in an abnormally long time. To add to that, the fire is spreading from the tree tops creating what is known as a “crown” fire; this type of fire is known to spread at speeds approaching 20 miles per hour. The combination of all these conditions has caused this fire to grow to an enormous size in a short amount of time; previous conditions were less that desirable since the fire started, however, the weather is beginning to turn to their favor with changes in humidity and more stable wind conditions.

Fire crews on the ground are working on large burnout operations at the southeastern edge of the fire that is burning within the Yosemite park boundaries. So far 4,840 personal have been deployed to fight the fire, however, due to extremely steep terrain ground crews have problems accessing areas in front of the fire. This has caused a huge reliance on VLAT DC-10 and MAFFS fixed wing aircraft for suppression and structure defense; these air craft are capable of carrying 12,000 gallons of fire retardant or water. Type 1 Helicopters, or helitack, have also been used to supply point protection where they can be safely applied. Helitack are firefighter crews that are deployed via helicopter where the use of ground teams is not as efficient or safe. A drone, controlled by the California National Guard, was used to spot a flare up that may have otherwise gone unnoticed for hours and is used to provide real time images of the fire to the incident commander; “They’re piping what they’re seeing directly to the incident commander, and he’s seeing it in real time over a computer network,” said Lt. Col. Tom Keegan.

So far 111 buildings have been destroyed including 31 homes and 4,500 structures are still threatened. The fire still poses problems for the nearly 2.6 million by area residents. The eight mile long Hetch Hetchy reservoir, that provides a large majority of power and water to San Francisco, is being contaminated by ash from the fire. San Francisco has so far borrowed $600,000 of electricity from neighboring grids. Water is being moved from Hetch Hetchy to smaller reservoirs elsewhere. The problems, however, may not arise until later; the water is taken nearly 250 feet below the surface of the reservoir taking the ash weeks or months to reach that depth. Also, charred hillsides are now prone to be washed into the reservoir with the coming rainy season causing more pollutants to enter the water supply. As residents of The Dalles, Oregon discovered, though their water may be safe to drink it still contains a smoky smell; work is being done to see if this could be prevented or reduced by mixing the smoke scented water with clean water or other minerals to remove its unpleasant aroma. Air quality is also a rising problem for areas around the fire including Carson City, Reno and areas surrounding the fire. Authorities recommend remaining indoors.

The fire is currently the 6th largest in California history and the largest ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada. The fire has mostly affected the Stanislaus National Forrest, where it originated and has grown into Yosemite, though it has not affected the actual Yosemite Valley. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said the fire is “burning its way into the record books.”

Road closures are currently in place on Tioga Road west of Yosemite creek and mandatory evacuations South of Highway 120 and North of Old Yosemite Road. For current updates of the fire follow this link: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3660

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s