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Yosemite Fire Blazes On
The Yosemite National Park fire continues to consume the forest. 32% of the fire is contained, and certain evacuations have been lifted, but weather reports have forced officials to lengthen the burning period. Officials have extended the date when they believe the fire will actually be extinguished. Hot weather and continued dryness will likely only prolong the burning period.
Firefighters are actually lighting small controlled fires to “starve the rolling blaze of vegetation for fuel,” according to the U.S. Forest Service. It may seem counterintuitive, but reducing the outlying trees to ash may help change the direction and speed of growth of the fire, helping to “contain” it.
As of Friday, the 13 day old Rim Fire had burned through 311 square miles of forest. At that point it was 32% contained. Currently almost 5,000 firefighters are working to slow and extinguish the fire. The entire cost of the process to save the forest is around $47 million. This is the fifth largest California wildfire on record, according to USA Today.
Within this dry and hot season, 31 wildfires are currently burning that have been recorded. At this point, only two of those are contained. “Containing” a fire is basically a maneuver where a fuel break around the fire is completed. This can include barriers or lines. Any way that the fire can be cut off from its fuel supply is used to limit and slow its growth. Without fuel, the fire eventually will burn itself out. Water couldn’t be used for a fire this size, as it would be impractical to ship water in that quantity to the location.
Yosemite National park’s core, the heart of its tourist destination, is completely safe. Only the northernmost edge of the park has seen some heat. The most popular landmarks that visitors flock to, like Half Dome, are visible and safe for visitors, as there is no smoke or excess heat in the Yosemite Valley.