Top-level resources are expected to be in place Thursday to combat the largely out-of-control Rim fire near Yosemite National Park.
The fire, which has already burned two houses and seven outbuildings, was just 5% contained Wednesday after consuming more than 16,000 acres.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jerry Snyder said resources for a "Type 1" incident command system of the fire would afford “larger capabilities” in the way of personnel and other resources.
Since the fire started Saturday, nearly 860 people had been assigned to fight the blaze as it burns along steep ridges and hillsides in the Stanislaus National Forest.
With the fire continuing to spread, having the Type 1 command in place would put the Rim fire in higher priority for more air resources, Snyder said.
"It's still an active, growing fire," incident command spokesman Dennis Godfrey said Wednesday. "We're putting a lot of resources into it."
The blaze forced authorities to close Hetch Hetchy Road and Highway 120 from Groveland to Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat entrance station. The flames were moving up the Tuolumne River, had jumped the highway and were moving into more forest, officials said.
Communities along Ferretti Road, which branches off from California 120, were evacuated. The highway was also closed at Ferretti.
More than 700 firefighters were struggling with the blaze as it burned along steep ridges and hillsides in the Stanislaus National Forest.
So far, the fire has posed little more than a headache for Yosemite visitors, park ranger Kari Cobb said.
“The park’s completely open. It’s pretty far out of the park,” she said.
Visitors have to use another entrance because of the Highway 120 closure and there’s a smoky haze over the western edge of the park, but otherwise it’s business as usual, she said.
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