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WILDFIRES in Yellowstone Park Wyoming, Yosemite California
San Francisco wildfire threatens power grid
Aug 24, 2013 California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in San Francisco, 150 miles away from the blaze, because the fire threatened the power grid.
2 of the 3 hydroelectric plants had to be shut down. Adding to 50 wildfires burning across USA, a massive blaze has ignited in Yosemite National Park.
WILDFIRES in Yellowstone Park Wyoming, Yosemite California
This is getting really serious now...
California Yosemite wildfire grows
Aug 26, 2013 Yosemite wildfire is still growing. A State of Emergency for San Francisco.
The Rim Fire started August 17 and covers nearly 203 sq miles and threatens a major reservoir serving San Francisco.
The fire is now 7% contained, but stronger winds are threatening.
The cause is under investigation.
Yosemite wildfire threatens San Francisco fresh water and power supply, as well as giant sequoia trees.
The Rim Fire poses every challenge that there can be in a fire: inaccessible terrain, strong winds, dry conditions.
5 active fires are currently burning in Yellowstone National Park.
It's 15% contained, last I read today, but that's still a long way to go!
Wildfire Threatens San Francisco's Water Supply
Crews battled Sunday to keep a massive wildfire from potentially closing this city's main water supply, a reservoir high in the Sierra Nevada whose water could become temporarily unusable because of ash from the inferno.
Crews working to contain one of California's largest-ever wildfires gained some ground Monday against the flames threatening San Francisco's water supply, several towns near Yosemite National Park and historic giant sequoias.
Containment of the Rim Fire more than doubled to 15 percent, although it was within a mile of the park's Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the source of San Francisco's famously pure drinking water, officials said Monday.
Ash in reservoir
Aug 27, 2013 The Rim Fire is now raining ash on a key reservoir that supplies water and hydro-electric power to San Francisco.
City officials moving water to lower reservoirs and monitoring.
The fire is 20% contained, strong winds are making the fires more difficult to control.
Raging California wildfire threatens more of Yosemite
A California wildfire that has scorched an area bigger than the size of Chicago near Yosemite National Park was 20 percent contained Tuesday, officials said. But the raging blaze was expected to move farther into the park and threaten a reservoir that provides most of San Francisco's water.
The so-called Rim Fire, stretching about 280 square miles, has charred 179,480 acres, making it California's seventh largest fire in state history, according to the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It threatens 4,500 structures as well as the power and water utilities for San Francisco, roughly 200 miles to the west.
The flames also loomed over towering sequoias that are among the largest and oldest living things on the planet. The iconic trees can withstand fire, but brutal conditions — including harsh winds and thick brush — have prompted park employees to take extra precautions in the Tuolumne and Merced groves, according to the Associated Press.
"All of the plants and trees in Yosemite are important, but the giant sequoias are incredibly important both for what they are and as symbols of the National Park System," park spokesman Scott Gediman told the AP.
Though the fire remains in a remote wilderness area of Yosemite National Park, it has burned 22,000 acres inside the protected area. Wildlife has been seen on the move, including a mother bear and her cub.
On Sunday, the fire had moved to within 2 miles of Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on the Tuolumne River, which serves 85 percent of San Francisco with water, according to San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesman Tyrone Jue.
Ash fell on the surface of the reservoir on Monday, but water samples were still testing clean by late afternoon, Reuters reported.
Tuesday's weather was predicted to remain hot, with temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s and winds of 10 to 15 mph, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Trevor Augustino told Reuters.
Firefighters had hoped to advance on the flames Monday, but strong winds threatened to push the blaze closer to Tuolumne City and nearby communities. Mandatory evacuations were ordered south of state Highway 120 and north of Old Yosemite Road.
A group of elite firefighters, Strike Team 2276-Alpha from San Mateo County, was tucked into the trees Monday to protect the town of Tuolumne in case the blaze came over the hill.
"It is dangerous," said strike team commander Ron Levezzo. "We had 19 firefighters, hotshots killed in Arizona. Fire is unpredictable when it gets up into the treetops."
Yosemite wildfire crews report progress
The portion of the fire in Yosemite National Park doubled, but the main attractions in the nearly 1,200-square-mile park remained open Tuesday
TUOLUMNE CITY, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters gained some ground Tuesday against the huge wildfire burning forest lands in the western Sierra Nevada, including parts of Yosemite National Park.
The 11-day-old blaze expanded to about 280 square miles, partly due to back burning by crews, but containment jumped to 20 percent.
The portion of the fire in Yosemite doubled to about 64 square miles but remained in backcountry, and the main attractions in the nearly 1,200-square-mile park remained open.
"The next couple of days are really going to be key for us," said California fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. "If the weather cooperates, and we see an increase in containment, we could really turn a corner on this stubborn fire."
The fire — now the seventh-largest California wildfire in records dating to 1932 — was threatening about 4,500 structures and has destroyed at least 23.
Thousands of firefighters have arrived since the fire erupted Aug. 17 west of Yosemite in the Stanislaus National Forest, where the slopes of the Sierra begin to rise above the eastern side of California's Central Valley.
An expected increase in humidity Tuesday afternoon could help suppress flames, said Matt Mehle, a National Weather Service meteorologist assigned to the fire.
Crews planned to focus Tuesday on the portion of the fire threatening communities in the north.
The fire approached the main reservoir serving San Francisco, but fears that the inferno could disrupt water or hydroelectric power to the city diminished.
Utility officials monitored the basin's clarity and used a new $4.6 billion gravity-operated pipeline system to move water quickly to reservoirs closer to the city.
So far the ash that has fallen onto the reservoir has not sunk as far as the intake valves, which are about halfway down the 300-foot O'Shaughnessy Dam. Utility officials said the ash is non-toxic but that the city will begin filtering water for customers if problems are detected.
Power generation there was shut down last week so firefighters would not be imperiled by live wires. San Francisco is buying replacement power from other sources to run City Hall and municipal buildings.
It has been at least 17 years since fire ravaged the northernmost stretch of Yosemite that now is under siege.
Crews cleared brush and set sprinklers on two groves of giant sequoias that were less than 10 miles away from the fire's front lines, said park spokesman Scott Gediman. While sequoias have a chemical in their bark to help them resist fire, they can be damaged when flames move through slowly with such intense heat.
The fire has swept through steep Sierra Nevada river canyons and stands of thick oak and pine, closing in on Tuolumne City and other mountain communities. It has confounded ground crews with its 300-foot walls of flame and the way it has jumped from treetop to treetop.
Meanwhile, biologists with the Forest Service are studying the effect on wildlife. Much of the area that has burned is part of the state's winter-range deer habitat. Biologist Crispin Holland said most of the large deer herds would still be well above the fire danger.
Biologists discovered stranded Western pond turtles on national forest land near the edge of Yosemite. Their marshy meadow had burned, and the surviving creatures were huddled in the middle of the expanse in what little water remained.
"We're hoping to deliver some water to those turtles," Holland said. "We might also drag some brush in to give them cover."
Wildlife officials were also trying to monitor at least four bald eagle nests in the fire-stricken area.
Why the Yosemite Fire Is Especially Scary
8/28/13 - The 160,000-acre blaze in Yosemite National Park is especially concerning, even for people who don't live in California. Here are a few reasons why.
No one knows what started the Rim Fire, the 160,000 acre blaze that's ripping through the western side of Yosemite National Park. But nearly 4,000 firefighters have been dispatched to try to stop it using helicopters, bulldozers, and flame retardants. Although the situation is starting to look up -- 20 percent of the fire is now contained, up from 7 percent just two days ago -- the authorities predict the fire will keep spreading, and fast, in days to come.
There are many reasons to be concerned about such a fire in Yosemite, even if you don't live in California: For starters, it's in our premier national park. Yosemite, which is about the size of Rhode Island, sees around 4 million visitors per year and is home to iconic groves of sequoia trees, endangered species like the California big horn sheep, and some of the most notorious peaks in the country, such as Half Dome and El Capitan. But the very things that make Yosemite so beautiful -- its pristine condition, steep ravines, and tall trees -- are also fueling this fire and making it difficult to contain.
Here are a few factors that make this fire especially terrifying:
1. It's huge
The fire is now one of the 20 largest fires in California history. It started on August 17th in a remote area of the forest and initially doubled in size every day. Currently, it's bigger than Chicago and threatens 4,500 human structures, though relatively few -- 23, including a summer camp -- have been destroyed.
In the video below, shot by the California National Guard, you can see the fire extending for miles. "That is unreal," one of the pilots comments as the rim of the fire comes into sight:
2. It's growing quickly
The fire has two layers: It's spreading through both the dry brush on the ground and up above in the canopy of the treetops. "Our firefighters are on the ground having to spray up," Daniel Berlant of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told CBS News on Sunday.
As of Tuesday, it was spreading towards Tuolumne City, a logging town west of Yosemite. InciWeb, the information service from the US Forest Service and several other federal government agencies, says the Rim Fire is "expected to continue to exhibit very large fire growth" in the coming days.
MSN Weather: Yosemite wildfire crews report progress
3. It's really, really hard to fight
The steep, remote topography of western Yosemite makes it difficult for firefighters to get the blaze. Narrow rivers flowing down the peaks cool the air, which makes the wind blow in all kinds of directions, says Julie Hutchinson, battalion chief and information officer for the California department of forestry and fire protection. The result is that the flames spread in various directions,making it hard to predict where it will go next.
"It was very difficult to get crews into it to for the initial attack on the fire," explains Bobby Reiss, a public information officer with the forest service. It's also difficult to use firefighting equipment in those areas.
4. It could cut off San Francisco's water supply.
Over the weekend, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for San Francisco because the city gets over 80 percent of its water -- more than 237 million gallons per day -- from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which is currently only 4 miles away from the edge of the Rim Fire, according to the Associated Press. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) said Monday that the city's drinking water remains safe, despite the thick smoke and ash that's reportedly clouding the area.
5. It caused the city of San Francisco to shut down its power sources and buy energy on the market instead.
Because of the fire, the state shut down two of the three hydroelectric power stations in Hetch Hetchy. Normally, the three stations supply virtually all power for city services, including the San Francisco airport, fire and police departments, and hospitals. SFPUC estimates that both the city's fire and water supplies are safe for now and it's repairing the plants, and the city has spent $600,000 buying energy elsewhere to stay powered in the meantime.
6. Two groves of treasured sequoia trees are currently within miles of the fire.
The fire is close to two of Yosemite's three groves of Sequoia trees, the Tuolumne Grove and the Merced Grove. Firefighters have surrounded the sequoias, many of which stand hundreds of feet high and are well over a thousand years old, with sprinklers and cleared the area of brush to try to keep the fire at bay.
7. Summer tourism in the area has tanked.
For businesses near Yosemite, this would have been peak tourism season had the fire not led thousands of visitors to evacuate from the park. Bad air quality, road closures, and concern about the fire have driven traffic down in all of Tuolumne county. The general manager of a casino in Tuolumne told the Sacramento Bee he expected to see only a few dozen customers come in last Saturday, as opposed to the 3,000 to 4,000 a summer weekend would usually draw.
8. The fire is so big it has its own weather system.
The Rim Fire has gotten big enough that it's creating its own weather patterns, state officials say. According to Hutchinson, this phenomenon isn't uncommon with large forest fires. "As a fire gets big and starts consuming more and more vegetation, all that heat that's been generated and all that electricity that's been generated goes up into a smoke column and it will almost create its own thunder head," says Hutchinson. "It has the same ability as a thunder cell does to break loose and change the weather patterns in and around it." In other words, large clouds form above the fire (like the clouds that form above a volcano) that don't produce precipitation, but create strong and unpredictable winds that can change how the fire spreads.
9. This fire could be a sign of things to come.
Though this season hasn't been a particularly bad season for wildfires so far, there's reason to be concerned that fires will only grow larger and more frequent as hot, dry weather becomes increasingly common in the West. Fire season now lasts two months longer and destroys twice as much land as it did forty years ago, according to Thomas Tidwell, the head of the United States Forest Service, when he testified to the Senate committee on energy and natural resources earlier this summer.
We can expect "as much as a fourfold increase in parts of the Sierra Nevada and California" in fire activity across the rest of this century, Matthew Hurteau, assistant professor of ecosystem science and management at Pennsylvania State University, recently told Mother Jones. (Read Mother Jones' explainer on how climate change is making wildfires worse here.)
In Yosemite, Hutchinson says the dry conditions this summer makes the park's vegetation "very receptive" both to the wildfire, and to its spread across the park. "We were seeing summer temperatures in April and May," she added. "The grass, the brush, and the timber -- they are very dry and they're stressed."
Smoke from expanding Yosemite wildfire triggers air-quality warnings 100 miles away
One of the largest wildfires in California's history has triggered a smoke plume that has worsened air quality more than 100 miles away in Nevada.
The smoky haze from the Rim Fire -- which has raged for 11 days in the area of Yosemite National Park -- sparked emergency warnings in the Reno and Carson City area, The Associated Press reported. Schoolchildren were kept inside for the second time in a week, people went to hospitals complaining of eye and throat irritation and officials urged people to avoid all physical activity outdoors.
"It's five hours away," said 22-year-old bartender Renee Dishman in disbelief after learning the source of the haze. "I can't run. I can't breathe. It makes me sneeze."
Dennis Fry, a Reno auto body specialist for nearly 30 years, remembered smoke this thick when he worked on a logging crew and helped fight fires in Oregon during the 1970s.
"But never in Reno, not this bad," he said. "You could actually see the smoke inside my body shop."
The fire has already scorched nearly 290 square miles - an area almost as large as New York City - and by Tuesday night had destroyed 31 homes and 80 other structures. In all the fire threatens 4,500 homes, 1,000 outbuildings and six commercial buildings.
Though firefighters have gained some ground on the blaze, there is little doubt it is expanding - from 144,000 acres on Sunday to about 184,000 acres by Tuesday evening. Some 42,000 acres of Yosemite is charred, nearly double the area late Monday.
The Rim Fire was among the fastest-moving of dozens of large wildfires raging across the parched West. The fires have strained resources and even prompted fire managers to open talks with Pentagon commanders and Canadian officials about possible reinforcements.
"We are making progress," Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told Reuters on Tuesday, adding that fire managers were looking forward to a cooling trend forecast for the end of the week. "That would bring some much-needed relief," he said.
The Rim Fire is the seventh-largest wildfire since California started keeping records. What sparked the blaze is still under investigation.
Much of the terrain is steep and rocky, and if firefighters were dropped into the burn zone, there would be no escape route.
So firefighters are deploying a massive DC-10 jet to attack the fire from the air. Crew members can drop nearly 12,000 gallons of fire retardant from the plane’s payload on each run. Each drop helps slow the flames as the retardant paints the hillsides red. At least 15 helicopters and other fixed wing aircraft were also in use to battle the blaze from above.
On a helicopter flight 10,000 feet above the Rim Fire, NBC News reported flames leaping hundreds of feet into the air and fiery hot spots on the forested slopes of the Sierra Nevada as the blaze consumed broad areas.
Fire officials have advised the evacuation of the area around Tuolumne City and in areas around the western boundary of Yosemite.
A mandatory evacuation was in effect for homes north of Old Yosemite Road as well as other nearby areas.
Elite Hotshot crews — among 3,700 firefighters battling the blaze — were stationed near residential areas, their first priority to protect life and property, and area residents were confident in their ability to do that.
"I have incredible faith in the firefighters," Sarah Whitney of Tuolumne City told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday. "They're walking around in their tactical uniforms and dumping retardant.... All that work, it's amazing."
Posters in towns and cities close to the fire thanked the crews for their work.
On Tuesday, earlier fears that the fire would disrupt water and power supplies to the city of San Francisco, about 200 miles away, were somewhat diminished as the blaze moved away from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
"It looks great out there. No concerns," Glen Stratton, an operations section chief on the Rim Fire, told NBC Bay Area about the reservoir threat.
Yosemite wildfire blankets region with choking smoke
Firefighters reported significant progress Wednesday against one of the biggest wildfires in California's history, but it was still spewing an enormous plume of smoke, dangerously contaminating the air across California and Nevada.
Authorities urged people in the region to avoid all outdoor activity as the Rim Fire's choking haze — a mile and a quarter thick at some points — spread from the outskirts of Yosemite National Park into Nevada. "Unhealthful" and "very unhealthy" air quality readings were recorded Wednesday across the Reno and Carson City area.
The fire had grown from 144,000 acres Sunday to about 187,500 acres by late Wednesday morning — about the size of New York City. It had destroyed 111 structures and was threatening 4,500 more, according to a joint federal-state-local incident report.
It's already the seventh-biggest fire in state history — and it's only 23 percent contained after almost two weeks of herculean effort by firefighting crews.
But Wednesday, officials said they were beginning to turn the tide, and they cautiously said they expect full containment my mid-September.
"It's looking better every day," Glen Stratton, a spokesman for the incident team, told NBC station KCRA of Sacramento. "So far, everything is holding."
Crews set a series of ground fires designed to choke off the blaze by burning up dry tinder ahead of it. If conditions allow, they're expected to begin a large burning operation inside Yosemite National Park from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir — the only municipal water supply in a national park — southward, incident commanders said.
Many parts of the park remained closed as almost 4,200 firefighters labored to keep it safe.
The Rim Fire was among the fastest-moving of dozens of large wildfires raging across the parched West. The fires have strained resources and prompted fire managers to open talks with Pentagon commanders and Canadian officials about possible reinforcements.
Much of the terrain is steep and rocky, and if firefighters were dropped into the burn zone, there would be no escape route.
So firefighters are deploying a massive DC-10 jet to attack the fire from the air. Crew members can drop nearly 12,000 gallons of fire retardant from the plane's payload on each run. Each drop helps slow the flames as the retardant paints the hillsides red. At least 15 helicopters and other fixed-wing aircraft were also in use to battle the blaze from above.
On a helicopter flight 10,000 feet above the Rim Fire, NBC News reported flames leaping hundreds of feet into the air and fiery hot spots on the forested slopes of the Sierra Nevada as the blaze consumed broad areas.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in the Scotts Ridges area and an area south of California Highway 120 and north of Old Yosemite Road. Voluntary evacuations were advised around Tuolumne City and around the western boundary of Yosemite.
Elite Hotshot crews were stationed near residential areas, their first priority to protect life and property, and residents were confident in their ability to do that.
"I have incredible faith in the firefighters," Sarah Whitney of Tuolumne City told NBC Bay Area. "They're walking around in their tactical uniforms and dumping retardant. ... All that work, it's amazing."
Posters in towns and cities close to the fire thanked the crews for their work.
While this summer's massive fires may have fed a perception that wildfires are getting worse every year, the National Interagency Fire Center reported Wednesday that 2013 has recorded the fewest wildfires by Aug. 28 in the past 10 years and the second-smallest number of acres burned — about 3.6 million, half of last year's acreage.
California wildfire heads deeper into Yosemite, entry road closed
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yosemite National Park, faced with the spread of a massive California wildfire, closed a second key route into the park on Wednesday that could keep some visitors from reaching one of the nation's top outdoor destinations over the Labor Day weekend.
The shutdown of Tioga Road comes as the so-called Rim Fire, which has now scorched an area larger than the land mass of Chicago, was burning deeper into the park and headed toward the tourist hub of Yosemite Valley.
The blaze, which stands as the sixth largest on record in state history, on Tuesday reached a reservoir that serves as the primary water supply for San Francisco, some 200 miles to the west.
Crews were attacking the eastern flank of the fire as it spread toward Yosemite Valley as well as the western edge, where some 4,500 homes in a string of small communities stood in the path of the flames, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Dennis Matheson said.
He said that treacherous, often inaccessible terrain was largely preventing firefighters from cutting new lines around the blaze and estimated it would take another week to fully contain it.
"I think it's very safe to say that we're looking at least at the first week of September," Matheson said. "A lot of it is footwork, creating containment lines by hand."
Of the 187,500 acres already blackened by the Rim Fire, more than 43,000 acres had burned inside Yosemite, up 3,000 from Tuesday, according to fire officials. Containment lines have been established around 23 percent of the fire's perimeter.
The flames last week forced the closure of a stretch of Highway 120 that leads to the west side of the 750,000-acre (300,000-hectare) park and is the main entrance from the San Francisco Bay area.
Tioga Road, the second of the four access routes into the park, was closed to allow fire crews to build containment lines along the road before the blaze approaches, said Yosemite spokesman Tom Medema.
"That will limit the access for visitors to and from the east side of the park, quite possibly over Labor Day weekend, which will have a significant economic impact on the area and (be) an inconvenience for visitors," he said.
Some 4 million people visit Yosemite each year, most of them during the peak months of June through August.
'ERRATIC FIRE BEHAVIOR'
The blaze, the biggest California wildfire since October 2007, is being fought by a force of some 4,100 personnel, backed by teams of bulldozers and water-dropping helicopters.
Firefighters plan to burn containment lines from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the remote northwestern section of the park south to Tioga Road to stop the fire from moving further east into the park, Medema said.
By Wednesday afternoon, any remaining campers from the Yosemite Creek Campground and Tamarack Flat Campgrounds will be evacuated, he said. The park also closed the Crane Flat Campground.
The blaze has been among the fastest-moving of dozens of large wildfires raging across the drought-parched U.S. West that have strained national firefighting resources.
Cooler temperatures, higher humidity and calmer winds had been expected to help the firefighting effort Tuesday night, said Alison Hesterly, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Later on Wednesday, temperatures were expected to be hot and dry, hitting a maximum of 94 Fahrenheit (34 Celsius) in the area with a minimum of 15 percent humidity, she said.
"If we reach the maximum temperature and the minimum humidity, we're expecting continued erratic fire behavior," she added.
After advancing on the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir for several days, flames got close to the artificial lake on Tuesday. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said there was little risk to the reservoir because of the rocky terrain and lack of brush surrounding it.
Officials said ash had drifted onto the surface of the reservoir, but testing of samples showed water quality remained healthy. If the water should become fouled by too much ash and soot and require filtration, it can be diverted through a treatment plant near San Francisco before being delivered to customers, officials from the commission said.
Most of the homes in the path of the fire have been ordered evacuated or were under advisories urging residents to leave voluntarily or be ready to flee at a moment's notice. The fire has already destroyed dozens of homes and cabins, but no serious injuries have been reported.
The cause of the blaze remained under investigation.
(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnson and Prudence Crowther)
California fire officials using drone to help fight monster Yosemite blaze
August 29, 2013 Wednesday
The Rim Fire continued to expand Wednesday, yet by evening it was 30% contained.
Fire crews added a California National Guard Predator drone to their arsenal to give them real-time views of the flames.
The aircraft being remotely piloted hundreds of miles away quickly alerted fire bosses to a new flare-up they otherwise would have missed.
It can remain over the burn zone for up to 22 hours at a time.
AWESOME satellite photos!
From the satellite photos, I dont know how man can contain this fire.
Its easy to understand why GOD is judging Calipornia, its a SIN-filled state.
I guess its cup of iniquity has overflown in heaven.
Aug 30, 2013 - 32% contained, probably burn for weeks, 5,000 firefighters battle the blaze.
Firefighting felons: Hundreds of inmates battling the Yosemite blaze
They swing the same Pulaskis, buzz the same chainsaws and face the same dangers.
But 673 of the wildland firefighters battling the ferocious blaze around Yosemite National Park have something that other hotshot crew members do not: a prison identification number.
They're part of California's conservation camp program, which takes convicts out of jail cells and puts them on the front lines of wildfires, where they earn $1 an hour cutting containment lines that keep flames from spreading.
"They are in the thick of it," said Capt. Jorge Santana of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The agency has sent 621 men and 52 women to tackle the so-called Rim Fire, which has engulfed nearly 300 square miles of land in 12 days. More have been deployed to 20 other fires across the state.
"They work 24-hour shifts," Santana said. "They sleep in tents at base camp. They work side-by-side with other firefighters.
"They risk their lives."
Other states have inmate firefighters, but California's program — with 42 minimum-security camps and more than 4,100 volunteers — is the biggest and oldest, dating to 1946.
Aaron Olguin, 30, said he heard about it soon after he was sentenced to four years and four months for a drunken-driving crash in which people were injured.
Like other applicants, he underwent two weeks of punishing fitness training: grueling hikes, 9-minute mile-long runs and a regime of military-style calisthenics. Then came two weeks of job training by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
"We hiked straight up mountains with 45 pounds on our back, carrying tools and water and other necessities," he said.
Olguin got some time shaved off his sentence and spent almost three years in the program before being released last November. He estimates he worked up to 20 fires and recalled some "close calls" with falling rocks and trees at night.
"The time goes by much faster," he said. "The living conditions are way better."
Conservation camps are open to inmates serving between 12 months and 7.5 years who have not been convicted of arson, murder, kidnapping or a sexual offense. Violent crimes like robbery and carjacking are considered on a case-by-case basis.
The camps are not fenced in but CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant said there are "very few" walkaways. The inmates are given dangerous tools, like saws to cut down trees and Pulaski axes to dig up roots.
All of them are volunteers. "We can't just force them out there like a chain-gang," Santana said.
The benefits include decent pay by prison standards: $1 an hour while fighting fires and $2 a day in the off-season, when inmates do other conservation work.
Prisoners say being in the great outdoors and the community is humanizing and an antidote to the monotony of lockup. If they behave, they can request a camp closer to their family, and they can cut their sentence by half in some cases.
The program has the lowest recidivism rate in the system, though it's still a depressing 55 percent, Santana said.
The state estimates it saves taxpayers more than $80 million a year with the cheap labor, and it's been recruiting volunteers from county lockups because of a court-ordered realignment keeping non-violent felons out of overcrowded state prisons.
"They do very laborious work," Berlant said. "It frees up our firefighters to extinguish the fires using hoses and water."
When the convicts are paroled, they leave with skills that, as the Rim Fire shows, are always in demand. Officials could not provide figures but said CalFire does hire ex-prisoners from the program.
That's Olguin's dream.
Since his release, he's been doing construction work in southern California, but once he gets his driver's license back, he plans to pursue a forestry job.
He never considered himself firefighter material before his conviction, so he's grateful to the camp.
"Not only did I learn something, but I had a lot of fun doing it," he said.
"We don't get as much credit as we should, but you can't expect everything."
Smoke spreads but progress made in Sierra fire
31 Aug 2013 FRESNO, Calif. Nearly 5,000 firefighters who have been battling the wildfire around Yosemite National Park are starting to make progress in controlling the giant blaze.
Smoke from a wildfire around Yosemite National Park is causing problems in the San Joaquin Valley, even as firefighters make advances against the massive blaze.
Winds had been blowing dense smoke plumes northeast into the Lake Tahoe area and Nevada but a shift brought them west down to the San Joaquin Valley floor.
Regional air pollution control authorities issued a health caution for San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno and Tulare counties. Residents who see or smell smoke were urged to stay inside, especially people with heart of lung problems, older adults and children.
But in signs of progress, on Friday crews had finished building containment lines around more than a third of the huge forest fire and officials had lifted evacuation advisories in some small communities in the mountainous area.
Also, a few dozen firefighters were released and more could be sent home in coming days, said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. More than 4,800 firefighters remained on the scene late Friday.
"We continue to gain the upper hand, but there's still a lot of work to be done," Berlant said.
The two-week-old blaze burning in the Sierra Nevada northeast of Fresno has scorched 333 square miles of brush, oaks and pine, making it the largest U.S. wildfire to date this year and the fifth-largest wildfire in modern California records. Containment was estimated at 35 percent.
Evacuation advisories were lifted Thursday in Tuolumne City, Soulsbyville and Willow Springs but remained in place for other communities, and evacuations were still mandatory along the fire's southeastern edge.
About 75 square miles of the fire are inside Yosemite but at some distance from the national park's major attractions, including glacially carved Yosemite Valley's granite monoliths and towering waterfalls.
Park officials expect about 3,000 cars a day to pass through gates during the long Labor Day holiday weekend instead of the nearly 5,000 that might typically show. The fire has caused some people to cancel reservations in the park but those vacancies have been quickly filled, officials said.
"Valley campgrounds are still full and skies in Yosemite Valley are crystal clear," said park spokeswoman Kari Cobb.
A 4-mile stretch of State Route 120, one of three western entrances into Yosemite, remained closed, hurting tourism-dependent businesses in communities along the route.
Costs reached $47 million, including firefighters from 41 states and the District of Columbia and significant aviation resources including helicopters, a DC-10 jumbo jet and military aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne FireFighting System. Aircraft have dropped 1.7 million gallons of retardant and 1.4 million gallons of water.
The fire started Aug. 17 and its cause remains under investigation. It is expected to keep burning long after it is fully contained, and recovery will be extensive. Some 7,000 damaged trees next to power lines will need to be removed by utility crews and 800 guardrail posts will need to be replaced on Route 120, a fire fact sheet said.
Yosemite wildfire's dense smoke blows into neighboring counties
The massive wildfire in and around Yosemite National Park is about 35 percent contained, but shifting winds have blown dense smoke to six nearby counties. Vinita Nair reports.
California wildfire threatening Yosemite is now size of Dallas
(Reuters) - A massive wildfire that has charred the northwestern edge of California's Yosemite National Park is heading towards two groves of the park's famed sequoia trees, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said as firefighters battled the blaze on Saturday.
The so-called Rim Fire, which now has an overall footprint that exceeds the area of Dallas, has burned about six percent of Yosemite's wilder backcountry but the vast majority of the park was still unaffected, Jarvis said.
The sequoias are expected to survive if the fire spreads through the groves of the towering redwoods that are among the park's most famous features, Jarvis said in a telephone interview.
"This is not a catastrophe for Yosemite National Park," he said in a telephone interview after surveying the affected areas. "These trees are very old and it's not the first fire they've ever seen."
Firefighters have been carrying out controlled burnings at night around the groves to clear away debris from the forest floor that could otherwise fuel a fire to such an intensity that it dangerously licks at the trees' crowns.
Lower-intensity fires, on the other hand, play a vital role in the reproductive cycle of the tough-barked sequoia, many of which bear the scars of past wildfires, by releasing the seeds from their cones and clearing the soil in which they germinate.
The so-called Rim Fire has continued to spread, having now consumed nearly 220,000 acres by Saturday, according to a U.S. Forest Service spokesman. Most of the damage is in the Stanislaus National Forest that spreads out from Yosemite's western edge.
Firefighters have contained about a third of that area.
"We're very, very cautious about the potential today," Timothy Evans, the spokesman, said. "Yesterday was very hot, there was some wind, and the same was somewhat predicted for today."
The blaze is now approximately tied with the Matilija wildfire in Ventura County of 1932 as the fourth-largest California wildfire on record.
Jarvis estimated that firefighting efforts had so far cost state and federal agencies about $54 million. He criticized a decline in federal funding for fire-prevention work, including the practice of controlled fires that make the chance of a wildfire of this intensity less likely.
Nearly 5,000 people are working to put out the fire, including firefighters from agencies across California and nearly 700 specially trained California prison inmates.
Tourism-dependent businesses around the park have bemoaned a slump in visitors at the peak of the late-summer tourist season. Jarvis said there was no need to for visitors to stay away.
"Yosemite Valley is open to the public and is gorgeous," he said, referring to one of the park's most scenic and visited areas, adding that it is more than 20 miles from the edge of the fire.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
According to DEBORAH TAVARES (of www.StopTheCrime.net), these massive forest fires on the West Coast recently are due to dumping of heavy metals from geoengineering.
MORE Propaganda: Possible marijuana link to massive California wildfire
Investigators probing the massive wildfire in Yosemite National Park are looking into whether an illegal marijuana farm may have triggered the blaze, US media reports said Saturday.
As the vast wildfire continued to rage in the iconic Californian tourist destination, several reports quoted a local fire chief who suggested marijuana growers may be to blame.
Todd McNeal, a fire chief in Twain Harte, one of the towns affected by the 219,000-acre (88,630 hectare) inferno, said investigators had not pinpointed the cause of the blaze.
"We don't know the exact cause," McNeal was quoted as telling a community meeting.
However, he added it was "highly suspect that there might have been some sort of illicit grove, a marijuana-grow-type thing."
"We know it's human caused. There was no lightning in the area," he said.
US Forest Service officials say the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that authorities in California have faced increasing problems with marijuana farms hidden deep in the region's rugged wilderness.
A 2009 fire that burned 90,000 acres in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara was triggered by a campfire at a marijuana farm.
Meanwhile, officials said Saturday they were optimistic of making further gains on the blaze, known as the Rim Fire, but warned that hot, dry conditions continued to create a challenging environment.
"We're hopeful that we are going to turn the corner, but it's hot, it's dry, and there is a westerly wind," US Forest Service spokeswoman Leslie Auriemmo told AFP.
"There's a lot of fuel out there. We remain in a high state of alert."
According to latest figures early Saturday, the fire has burned 219,277 acres (343 square miles or 888 square kilometers) and continues to threaten 4,500 structures.
A total of 4,995 firefighters have been deployed to battle the flames, which have so far destroyed 11 homes and 97 outbuildings.
The fire, which started on August 17, was 35 percent contained as of Saturday, up from 32 percent on Friday.
Yosemite National Park officials insisted on Friday that the fire posed no threat to tourists heading to the landmark destination on a busy US holiday weekend.
The flames remain some 15 miles (24 kilometers)from Yosemite Valley, the tourist heart of the park where millions of visitors flock every year to see majestic scenery such as the Half Dome and El Capitan rock formations.
"The area where it's burning right now is mostly wilderness... There's nothing in that location that would potentially be a safety issue," said Yosemite spokeswoman Kari Cobb.
Yosemite Fire 5th Largest in State History
Sept. 1, 2013 The Rim Fire was 40% contained.
The Rim Fire continues to burn along the edge Yosemite National Park.
It is now the fifth largest in California recorded history and the largest fire so far in 2013.
The cause remains under investigation. Water quality is not being affected by the Rim Fire and water delivery is not being interrupted.
Yosemite blaze may have been sparked by illegal marijuana growers.
The fire is expected to keep burning long after it is fully contained, and recovery will be extensive.
Some 7,000 damaged trees next to power lines will need to be removed and 800 guardrail posts replaced on Route 120.
Rim Fire has switched direction and endangers Experimental Forest
Completed just last year, the site was thinned back to recreate the conditions in the 1920s.
This October and November, prescribed fire was scheduled to be put back into the woods.
This exploratory fire was to be used to compare the differences and responses in the way the forest reacted with fire to the way it functioned prior to the thinning.
Failure to thin brush may have worsened California wildfire
(Reuters) - A cluster of controlled fire and tree-thinning projects approved by forestry officials but never funded might have slowed the progress of the massive Rim Fire in California, a wide range of critics said this weekend.
The massive blaze at the edge of Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains has scorched an area larger than many U.S. cities - with some of that land in the very location pinpointed by the U.S. Forest service for eight projects aimed at clearing and burning brush and small trees that help fuel wildfire.
The projects, which were approved by the U.S. Forest Service but never funded by Congress, would have thinned the woods in about 25 square miles (65 square km) in the Groveland District of the Stanislaus National Forest, much of which was incinerated by the Rim Fire.
About 9,000 acres were suitable to be deliberately burned as fire prevention buffer zones in 2012, the Forest Service said in a document provided to Reuters.
But reductions in funding for fire prevention efforts by Congress in recent years coupled with stringent air quality standards that limit the timeframe for such burns have hampered efforts to carry them out on a larger scale.
Last year, the Forest Service had funding to burn 449 acres in the Groveland District but did not reach that target, said District Ranger Maggie Dowd.
The wildfire is the sixth-largest on record in California. It burned over 220,000 acres over the past two weeks while penetrating Yosemite National Park and threatening to befoul the Hetch Hetchy reservoir providing the lion's share of water to San Francisco.
"This is a colossal unfunded backlog of critically important fuel reduction work," said John Buckley, executive director of the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center and a former Forest Service fire fighter. The projects "would have inarguably made the Rim Fire far easier to contain, far less expensive and possibly not even a major disaster."
Over the past several years, wildfires in the U.S. West have become increasingly frequent and at times deadly. Earlier this year, 19 firefighters were killed in a blaze in Arizona, and wildfires have raged in several states, including Nevada, Alaska and New Mexico.
MORE ACTIVE WILDFIRES
Federal fire figures show an average of 7.6 million acres (3.1 million hectares) charred per year between 2004 and 2012, up from 3.6 million acres (1.46 million hectares) annually in the preceding 20 years.
Part of the problem, experts and many fire officials say, is that funding has been low for the controlled burns and forest-thinning work that makes it harder for a wildfire to spread.
In recent years, Jarvis said, the trend has been to shift money from fire prevention to firefighting.
"We've got to invest up front in terms of controlling and managing these fires," said Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service from his smoke-filled post in Yosemite National Park. "Just waiting for the big fire and then throwing everything you've got at it makes no sense."
The massive blazes are fueled by high temperatures, said U.S. Forest Service geographer Carl Skinner.
Mike Albrecht, co-owner of the logging company Sierra Resource Management, which operates on public land in the Sierra Nevada mountains said that the backlogged projects would likely have helped limit the Rim Fire.
The "one-two punch" of thinning the forest through logging and prescribed burns is essential for stemming the tide of catastrophic wildfires across the American West, he said.
Craig Thomas, conservation director for the environmental coalition group Sierra Forest Legacy, said such a course would help reduce the intensity of wildfires enough to spare the largest trees, while clearing space and providing nutrients for grasses and wildflowers.
In addition to perennial funding shortfalls for prevention efforts, Thomas faults federal and state air quality regimes that limit the timeframe for prescribed burns by counting the smoke they generate along with industrial and auto emissions - while not counting the smoke from an actual wildfire.
There is also skepticism over the relative importance of planned burning among some lawmakers, including Congressman Tom McClintock, a third-term conservative Republican in whose district the Rim Fire has burned.
More dire than a backlog of Forest Service controlled burns, McClintock says, is the precipitous, 25-year decline in logging of bigger, money-making trees on public lands.
"If we were harvesting the same amount of timber we once did, we'd have fewer fires but also a revenue stream for the treatment of many thousands of acres (hectares) that we're not treating today," he said.
Dowd, the Forest Service Ranger, said that with containment lines built around less than half of the still-burning Rim Fire, it is too early to know how much the prevention projects might have helped.
But she said that the several dozen acres of prescribed burns carried out in her district over the past two years, are insufficient.
"It's not enough," Dowd said.
Rim Fire at 223,000 acres as Calif. officials search for cause of massive blaze
California officials searched for answers to what sparked a massive wildfire near Yosemite Park that is still only 40 percent contained after two weeks of firefighters battling the blaze.
The Rim Fire has scorched almost 223,000 acres of California forests and over 100 structures have been destroyed by the fire, according to state fire officials. Eleven residences have burned down so far but a majority of the 5,506 structures currently threatened by the fire are homes, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported.
Firefighters managed to put out some small scattered fires overnight on Saturday, as higher humidity levels contributed to a slow in the rate of the fire’s spread. Still, while more than 5,000 active firefighting personnel are actively working to conquer the fire, officials do not expect full containment until Sept. 20, according to a fire incident report.
Strong gusts of wind contributed to a sheet of thick smoke on Saturday that descended over Yosemite Park, which was crowded with holiday weekend campers. Even as air quality was rated as “very unhealthy” — the most intense level on a five-part scale — by the National Park Service on Saturday, the Associated Press reported that open campgrounds remained full.
On Sunday, the air quality in the park’s valley improved by one level to “unhealthy,” but campers were asked to avoid strenuous outdoor activity or try to stay indoors, according to the AP.
According to NBC Bay Area, two of the park’s campgrounds closed on Saturday and Berkeley Tuolumne Camp was entirely devastated by the blaze. Previous visitors to the scenic campground set up a memorial Facebook page that documented the site’s destruction.
As residents and campers lament the loss of favorite campgrounds and lush forest, California officials worked to determine the cause of the fire that has cost the state an estimated $60 million.
A Tuolumne County Fire official told community members that marijuana growers may be to blame, according to NBC Bay Area.
Reuters reported that some officials said a failure to carry out U.S. Forest Service-approved tree-thinning projects, due to a lack of funds from Congress, has contributed to the swift spread of the fire.
John Buckley, the executive director of the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center, told Reuters that the tree-thinning efforts "would have inarguably made the Rim Fire far easier to contain, far less expensive and possibly not even a major disaster."
Sept. 4, 2013 California range cattle feared dead from Rim Fire.
Many of the thousands of grass-fed cows who have grazed on land in the Stanislaus Forest where the massive fire sparked Aug. 17 are now feared injured or dead.
As ranch hands deal with their potentially decimated stock, the regional cattle industry may take a big hit.
They go out every day, gathering the cows they can find, the ones that have made it into the green areas.
They find pockets of livestock and remove them as fast as they can.
Rim Fire was 70% contained Monday night.
Rim fire started by illegal fire.
The California Rim fire which has burned into Yosemite National Park was started by a hunter who let an illegal fire.
The hunter has not been arrested. The fire was not started by a marijuana growing operation.
The Rim fire is 80% contained.
Yosemite fire: Another two weeks to full containment
The Rim Fire in and around Yosemite National Park continues to smolder and flare up as firefighters work to increase containment beyond 80 percent. Officials say that could take another two weeks.
The worst of the Rim Fire may be over, but the blaze that has raged in and around Yosemite National Park for the past three weeks is likely to burn for another two weeks before officials can declare it to be fully contained.
The wildfire, reported to have been started by a hunter’s illegal campfire, has grown to cover more than a quarter million acres.
Still, steady progress has been made, and containment is now at 80 percent, although the potential for the fire to continue growing remains “high,” according to the US Forest Service. Winds, temperature, and humidity levels affecting fire behavior remain variable, and some of the terrain where firefighters are working is extremely difficult to navigate.
“Short runs of fire may occur where flames reach the bottom of drainages and move into more heavily vegetated areas,” reports the Forest Service. “Approximately 2,490 structures remain threatened in areas near the fire perimeter to the north, south, and southeast portions of the fire.”
Although that portion of state road 120 leading into Yosemite Valley has been opened, other parts of the road remain closed, and motorists are asked to use caution and avoid stopping when driving through the fire area. Several campgrounds remain closed as well.
In addition to vacationers and local residents, the Rim Fire could impact a part of the traditional western economy: cattle ranching.
The Stanislaus National Forest, where the fire raged, is grazing land for some 4,000 cows.
“With large numbers believed to be dead, and the near future of grazing in the forest up in the air, the cattle industry is another victim of the massive blaze on the west edge of Yosemite,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
"They go out every day, gathering the cows they can find, the ones that have made it into the green areas," said Susan Forbes of the US Forest Service. "They're finding pockets of livestock and concentrating on removing them as fast as they can."
While the Rim Fire has drawn most of the interest this wildfire season – including for a period when it threatened San Francisco’s water supply from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park – the overall wildfire picture is less than it was at this point last year.
So far this year, 35,440 reported fires have burned a total of 3.9 million acres. Last year at this time in the fire season, 45,278 fires had burned 7.9 million acres. The figures for 2011 were 55,619 fires and 7.2 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Id.
But large fires continue to burn in several states this season: 6 in Idaho, 5 each in California and Montana, and 1 each in Alaska, Louisiana, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. So far this year, 300 large fires have been contained.
Officials now estimate that the Rim Fire will be fully contained by Friday, September 20.
California orders evacuations as new wildfire races toward Bay Area town
A wildfire that ignited Sunday afternoon and grew to 800 acres within just a few hours was threatening the San Francisco bedroom community of Clayton, where state authorities ordered the evacuations of dozens of homes on Sunday night.
The Morgan Fire was first reported at 1:15 p.m. (4:15 p.m. ET), and by 7:30 p.m. it was already burning about 800 acres on the edge of Mount Diablo State Park, in Contra Costa County about 15 miles northeast of San Francisco, according to an incident report from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire.
Twenty-five fire engines, four air tankers, three helicopters and more than 175 firefighters rushed to the scene, but the fire was still growing, and it was only about 10 percent contained Sunday night.
CalFire ordered mandatory evacuations for Oak Hill Lane, Curry Canyon and Curry Point in and around Clayton, a community of 11,000 people. Fifty to 75 homes were threatened by the swiftly moving flames, it said.
"Leave now by car," the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office said in an advisory marked as "urgent" about 6 p.m. "... Stay off the phone unless you need to report a life-threatening emergency at your location."
An enormous plume of smoke was visible for miles — even at Candlestick Park, where the San Francisco 49ers were playing their opening game, the Contra Costa Times reported.
"This thing grew pretty quickly," resident Dave Miller told the newspaper. "Now the wind is picking up. It could get ugly."
Authorities had no immediate indication of the cause of the fire.
Video: Taking a Closer Look at California`s Third Largest Fire of all Time
The Rim Fire, which has been afflicting California this summer, has officially been deemed the third largest wildfire in the state`s history. But that alone doesn`t tell the whole story of the destructive fire.
Video: Erosion a concern after Mt. Diablo fire.
After 3,133 acres burned on Mt. Diablo in the Morgan Fire the concern grows over the possible erosion effects.
This seems to have fallen off the radar all of a sudden...
Harsh Yosemite fire aftermath: 40 percent of land 'nuked'
Within the footprint of California's Rim Fire is an area of 60 square miles where everything is dead, the worst such burn damage in centuries.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A fire that raged in forest land in and around Yosemite National Park has left a contiguous barren moonscape in the Sierra Nevada mountains that experts say is larger than any burned in centuries.
The fire has consumed about 400 square miles, and within that footprint are a solid 60 square miles that burned so intensely that everything is dead, researchers said.
"In other words, it's nuked," said Jay Miller, senior wildland fire ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service. "If you asked most of the fire ecologists working in the Sierra Nevada, they would call this unprecedented."
Smaller pockets inside the fire's footprint also burned hot enough to wipe out trees and other vegetation.
In total, Miller estimates that almost 40 percent of the area inside the fire's boundary is nothing but charred land. Other areas that burned left trees scarred but alive.
Using satellite imagery, Miller created a map of the devastation in the wake of the third-largest wildfire in California history and the largest recorded in the Sierra Nevada.
Biologists who have mapped and studied the ages and scarring of trees throughout the mountain range have been able to determine the severity and size of fires that occurred historically.
Miller says a fire has not left such a contiguous moonscape since before the Little Ice Age, which began in 1350.
In the decades before humans began controlling fire in forests, the Sierra would burn every 10 to 20 years, clearing understory growth on the ground and opening up clearings for new tree growth. Modern-day practices of fire suppression, combined with cutbacks in forest service budgets and a desire to reduce smoke impacts in the polluted San Joaquin Valley, have combined to create tinderboxes, experts say.
Drought, and dryness associated with a warming climate also have contributed to the intensity of fires this year, researchers say.
"If you had a fire every 20 years, you wouldn't have many like this or you'd never have trees that were 400 years old," Miller said.
Some areas of the Stanislaus National Forest ravaged by the Rim Fire had not burned in 100 years. Most of the land that now resembles a moonscape burned on Aug. 21 and Aug. 22, when the fire jumped to canopies and was spreading the fastest.
In Yosemite National Park, where lightning fires mostly are allowed to burn out naturally and prescribed burns mimic natural conditions, the destruction was much less.
The Rim Fire has burned 77,000 acres in wilderness areas in the northeast corner of Yosemite, but only 7 percent of that area was considered high intensity that would result in tree mortality, said Chris Holbeck, a resource biologist for the National Park Service.
"It really burned here much like a prescribed fire would to a large degree because of land management practices," Holbeck said. "Fire plays a natural part of that system. It can't all be old growth forests, though Yosemite holds some of the oldest trees in the Sierra."
Short-term impacts in the park could include the displacement of a unique and threatened subspecies of great gray owls that makes home in treetops in the fire's range.
The Rim Fire started Aug. 17, when a hunter's fire spread, and continues to burn. It is named for a ridge near the location where the fire started — The Rim of the World, an overlook above a gorge carved by the Tuolumne River. The area that burned in 1987 and again in 1996 was filled with chaparral.
By the time the Rim Fire ripped through the canyon, it developed its own weather system that pushed it to consume up to 50,000 acres in a day.
The satellite was able to map only the parts of the fire where the canopy of trees was destroyed. Other areas burned closer to the ground, so it could take a year to determine whether root systems of trees outside the worst areas of destruction will die as well.
Researchers used satellites to measure the amount of chlorophyll left in canopies to determine which areas will now resemble a charred moonscape.
"We look at where the photosynthetic vegetation is killed," Miller said. "It's not a measure of the intensity of the fire but a measure of a change in the chlorophyll that is there by and large."
While the landscape has been ravaged, the soil that determines the amount of post-fire erosion that might occur when winter storms hit didn't suffer as badly as scientists feared.
Severe soil damage occurred on just 7 percent of the land inside the fire's footprint, said officials with the federal Burned Area Environmental Response team. Fire can destroy soil and make it susceptible to erosion by either burning the fine roots and other organic matter that holds it together, or by burning chaparral that releases oils that create an impervious barrier preventing rainwater from being absorbed.
"Before we can start talking about erosion, we have to figure out where the soil is damaged," said forest service soil scientist Randy Westmoreland.
California Rim Fire Nov 15, 2013 - off a blog
SOMEONE GAVE STAND DOWN ORDER!
My Dad is a forester and is in contact with the folks who make the fire decisions out there.
A hunter had an illegal campfire. A law enforcement team raided a marijuana grow site.
There were no illegals there at the time.
They picked up lots of trash and since they could not get a helicopter to fly it out they torched it on site.
Pretty soon the fire was a hundred acres and growing.
The canyon is the place that everyone had feared to have a fire and everyone knew what it would do. The local ranger district has plans for this.
The fire was burning in a Wild and Scenic protected river watershed.
It takes clearance from Washington to drop retardant on it.
At the air attack base less than 20 minutes by air, a tanker was sitting fully loaded ready to take off. The crew were unavailable.
Another air tanker was airborne and requested permission to drop on the fire. Permission denied.
Three Cal Fire Handcrews and a Hotshot crew were mobilized and then told to stand down. SQ
Is Yellowstone National Park Going To Blow?
June 7, 2014 Whitehall saw gold flakes coming from the faucet also the toilet tank. They ran tests on the flakes and found gold was coming out of the tap.
Yosemite California wildfire
August 20, 2014 Firefighters gained ground Tuesday on a blaze in the foothills near Yosemite National Park, allowing some of the 1,000 people who fled the flames to return to their homes.
Nearly 1 square mile in Madera County had been scorched, revising earlier estimates that it had spanned about twice as much ground, state fire officials said.
Flames erupted Monday near Oakhurst, a community of several thousand about 16 miles from a Yosemite entrance, forcing more than 1,000 people to evacuate and thousands more to prepare to leave their homes. Some residents were allowed to go home, but sheriff's spokeswoman Erica Stuart could not provide an estimate of how many.
Recommended: Fighting wildfires: seven cutting-edge technologies
Crews contained 30 percent of the fire, aided by humidity and calmer winds. Additional firefighters had been brought in to attack the blaze fueled a day earlier by gusty winds and dry brush.
These fires have been posted on a different thread 2014