Massive wildfire prompts new transport restrictions by Yosemite

Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:32pm EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Firefighters dynamic to keep a vast glow from invading a heart of California’s Yosemite National Park took advantage of cooler continue early on Thursday to delayed a widespread of abandon forward of a holiday weekend imprinting a finish of a rise summer traveller season.

Progress came after a prolonged widen of Yosemite’s categorical east-west highway was sealed on Wednesday by a western half of a park as crews tightened their hold on a blaze, fluctuating containment lines around 30 percent of a fire’s border by a finish of a 12th day.

Capping a week in that a footprint of a glow grew by tens of thousands of acres, a cooling trend and rising steam levels helped quell a fire’s expansion overnight, with usually 270 acres combined to a sum of charred landscape by emergence on Thursday.

Since erupting on Aug 17, a supposed Rim Fire has blackened scarcely 193,000 acres, or some-more than 300 block miles of dry dumpy and timberlands, mostly in a Stanislaus National Forest west of a park, glow officials pronounced on Thursday. Its means was still being investigated.

The firefighting force has grown to some-more than 4,800 personnel, consisting mostly of crews wielding palm tools, sequence saws and even special torches to emanate glow breaks by clearing a imperishable turf of unburned trees and chaparral forward of advancing flames.

They are corroborated by teams of bulldozers, water-dropping helicopters and aeroplane tankers carrying payloads of flame-retardant chemicals.

The conflict inside Yosemite was focused mostly on preventing abandon from perspicacious any over toward a core of a park, including a Yosemite Valley area famed for a soaring stone formations, waterfalls, meadows and hunger forests.

Some 4 million people revisit Yosemite any year, many of them during a rise months of Jun by August. Park officials pronounced they have already beheld a decrease in a crowds of visitors typically seen in late summer.


With an altogether footprint that exceeds a land mass of The city of Chicago, a glow ranks as a sixth-largest California wildfire on record.

As of Wednesday, reduction than a entertain of a sum burnt landscape, about 43,000 acres, lay inside Yosemite, cramped to a northwest dilemma of a 750,000-acre (300,000-hectare) park.

Earlier this week, abandon sealed in on a park’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, that reserve 85 percent of a H2O consumed by San Francisco and several other communities some 200 miles to a west.

But application officials pronounced there was tiny risk to a synthetic lake since of a hilly turf and miss of brush surrounding it.

On a conflicting finish of a sprawling glow section west of Yosemite, crews fought to keep abandon divided from some 4,500 homes in a fibre of tiny communities along a border of a Stanislaus National Forest, pronounced California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection orator Dennis Matheson.

Most of those dwellings have been systematic evacuated or were underneath advisories propelling residents to leave willingly or be prepared to rush during a moment’s notice. The glow has already broken dozens of homes and cabins, though no critical injuries have been reported.


Matheson pronounced treacherous, hard-to-reach turf was opposition efforts to carve additional containment lines around a blaze, and he estimated it would take another week to entirely hang it.

“I consider it’s really protected to contend that we’re looking during slightest during a initial week of September,” Matheson said.

The abandon final week forced a closure of a widen of Highway 120 that leads into a west side of a park and serves as a categorical gateway from a San Francisco Bay area.

On Wednesday, a closure was extended easterly along 120, also called Tioga Road, as distant as Yosemite Creek mid by a park. But a rest of a highway by Yosemite’s usually easterly opening remained open, along with dual other gates that concede entrance from other directions in a southern half of a park.

The stretched closure of Highway 120 – a usually east-west track that totally bisects a park – was imposed to concede glow crews to settle new containment lines along a highway before a glow approaches, pronounced Yosemite orator Tom Medema.

“That will extent a entrance for visitors to and from a easterly side of a park, utterly presumably over Labor Day weekend, that will have a poignant mercantile impact on a area and (be)an nuisance for visitors,” he said.

Several campgrounds and trails, along with dual landmark groves of hulk sequoia trees, also were sealed to a public.

Firefighters on Thursday also continued to bake containment lines from a Hetch Hetchy Reservoir south to Tioga Road in a bid to keep a glow from creeping serve easterly into a park, Medema said.

The glow has been among a fastest-moving of dozens of vast wildfires distracted opposite a drought-parched U.S. West in new weeks, straining inhabitant firefighting resources.

(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)