TUOLUMNE CITY, Calif.--Warm, dry weather through the Labor Day weekend poses new challenges for firefighters battling the Rim fire in and around Yosemite.
The Rim fire has so far scorched more than 213,000 acres since it began Aug. 17, making it the fifth-largest fire in California history. The massive fire is 32% contained, and officials expect it will take two to three weeks for full containment.
More than 4,900 firefighters were battling the fire on Friday, while the cost of the operation has ballooned to $47 million. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Earlier in the week, firefighters began to get an upper hand on the blaze.
But warming conditions hampered the fight on Friday.
There were still active parts of the fire at the northern perimeter near Tuolumne City. “It’s still giving us some angst,” said Gary Wuchner, an information and education specialist with the national park.
Temperatures hovered in the high 80s on Friday, with winds at 15 mph from the west and humidity at 21%.
“We’re seeing fuels that are drier than the kiln dry wood you buy at the hardware store,” Wuchner said.
Mandatory evacuations continue to remain in effect south of California 120 on the southeastern edge of the fire and toward Yosemite National Park. Evacuation advisories in Tuolumne City, Soulsbyville and Willow Springs were lifted Friday, however.
There are also a series of partial and full road closures, including parts of Big Oak Flat Road, Tioga Road, Old Coulterville Road, all of Hetch Hetchy Road and an array of wilderness trails.
Meanwhile, smoke, not just flames, is also becoming an increasing concern throughout the region.
The National Park Service on its website Friday said “the smoke has mostly remained north of Yosemite Valley, but changing winds have brought some haze and smoke to Yosemite Valley.”