Rim fire still 'very active,' 35 percent contained

Aug. 31, 2013 at 4:23 PM
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TUOLUMNE CITY, Calif., Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Firefighter in California said warmer temperatures overnight hampered efforts to battle the Rim fire, which has scorched 219,000 acres.

The fire, the fifth-largest in California history, is 35 percent contained but remains "very active" in some places in and around Yosemite National Park, fire officials said. Aircraft were still being deployed in places to make water drops in an attempt to bring the massive wildfire under control, the Los Angeles Times reported.

National parks representatives said Yosemite Valley, the portion of the park most frequently visited by tourists, remains unaffected, though a change in wind patterns has brought hazy smoke from the fire to some parts of the valley.

The blaze remains active on the northern edge of Tuolumne City, Calif.

Firefighters said conditions late Friday and into Saturday made matters more difficult. The overnight temperature hovered around 80 degrees with 15 mph winds from the west and just 21 percent humidity.

That, combined with extremely dry conditions in the Sierra Nevadas, has made the Rim fire difficult to contain.

"It's still giving us some angst," said Gary Wuchner, an information and education specialist with the park. "We're seeing fuels that are drier than the kiln dry wood you buy at the hardware store."

More than 4,900 firefighters were involved in the operation Friday, and the cost of fighting the Rim fire was approaching $50 million, the Times said.

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