Update on Rim Fire Burning Yosemite National Park
The Rim Fire, which began burning on August 17, has been 23% contained since Tuesday, August, 27. At
this point in time, 4,100 firefighters are working on stopping the fire, which is burning an average of 300
acres per hour (down from 1,000 acres per hour on Tuesday and 3,000 acres per hour last week).
Additionally, the California National Guard has sent a dronefrom the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside
to gather information on the fire while being controlled remotely. The cause of the fire is being
The Rim Fire is the seventh largest wildfire in the history of record-keeping of wildfires in California. It
has burned 187,000 acres (293 square miles) thus far. It has destroyed 111 buildings and 31 houses and
threatens Yosemite’s sequoias. Authorities have closed roads around the park and evacuated
surrounding communities. Neighborhoods north of the fire, nearby Highway 108 and Tuolumne City,
have been evacuated.The fire also threatened the water supply for the Bay Area as it approached the
HetchHetchy Reservoir. It has reached the reservoir but has not compromised the water supply. It also
passed the O’Shaughnessy Dam.
Communities in Carson City and Reno in Nevada(over 100 miles away) have also been affected by the
Rim Fire. Warnings about the air quality and additional smoke in the air from authorities have advised
citizens to stay inside their homes as much as possible and to decrease their level of activity until the air
quality improves. Public school has been cancelled twice, and more people are visiting emergency
rooms with throat, eye and breathing problems; headaches; and coughs. Older people, people who
suffer from asthma, people with lung or heart disease and children should stay inside.
Ecologists believe the fire has been fueled by dry vegetation that has not been naturally burned in too
long. Furthermore, the area has experienced a drought for many years. Hugh Safford, an ecologist at the
U.S. Forest Service in California, noted that the suppression of natural wildfires has left forest vulnerable
to large wildfires like the Rim Fire. For example, the Rim Fire has slowed down in areas where it has
reached portions of land that have been burned in the past twenty years. Prescribed fires are allowed in
Yosemite to prevent future large wildfires like this one. They are stopped to prevent damage or danger
to the facilities of the park.
Firefighters are currently working to contain the fire by building lines on the north side of it and are
preparing to create backfires on the southwest side.A backfire is a small fire started by firefighters
within the border of a larger wildfire. These smaller fires consume dry vegetation before the larger fire
can do so. This should help slow down the Rim Fire and help firefighters contain it. Meanwhile, campers
and hikers are still visiting Yosemite National Park. Jason Henika, who is visiting the park with his uncle,
told the Los Angeles Times that he hopes the fire will decrease the amount of crowds at the park.