Story Summary

Rim Fire

Yosemite Fire

Photo credit: KTXL

A massive wildfire burned hundreds of square miles in Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus Forest, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

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Nearly 10 weeks after it began in mountainous terrain at the edge of Yosemite National Park, the massive Rim Fire was declared fully contained Friday.


Just outside Yosemite National Park, the California National Guard battles the Rim Fire on Aug. 22, 2013. The fire was declared completely contained on Oct. 25. (Credit: CNN)

The wildfire, which prompted evacuations in mountain communities and shuttered parts of Yosemite, burned more than 257,000 acres, or about 402 square miles.

The blaze began Aug. 17 and became the third-largest wildfire in California history. It burned 114 structures, including 11 homes, according to Cal Fire records.

The wildfire began when a hunter allowed an illegal fire to escape, authorities said in early September.

The blaze burned through challenging terrain for firefighters, charring and destroying stands of oak and pine and leaving wildlife habitat blackened and 10 people injured.

The firefight had cost more than $127 million as of Friday.

The declaration of containment means firefighters have finally built control lines around the fire’s edge; but some terrain inside the fire area may still burn, authorities said in an online fire incident report.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which provides water to San Francisco and had been a major cause of concern during the fire’s peak, remained closed, according to the National Park Service.

Several roads, trails and park attractions in the area were still closed as well.

The mammoth Rim fire, which burned into the western portion of Yosemite National Park while scorching large swaths of the Stanislaus National Forest, is inching closer to its end.


Soil scientist Todd J. Ellsworth of U.S. Forest Service surveys the burned area of the Stanislaus National Forest in Sonora, Calif., on Sept. 13. (Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

U.S. Forest Service officials say the fire is now 92% contained after consuming 402 square miles. Full containment is expected Sunday, they added.

Fire activity continues to be limited to “isolated smoldering” within the fire containment lines, according to an incident update posted by the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire started Aug. 17, ignited by a hunter’s illegal campfire, officials said. The effects of blaze are likely to be long lasting, transforming parts of the Stanislaus National Forest for decades to come.

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The cost of battling the massive Rim fire raging in and around Yosemite National Park has reached $100 million, federal fire officials said Monday night.


Firefighters walk a containment line for the Rim fire as it continues to burn near Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest on Friday. (Credit: California Interagency Incident Team)

The blaze has charred 253,332 acres — or 396 square miles — of brush and timber after erupting in the Stanislaus National Forest on Aug. 17, fire officials said. The blaze is 80% contained.

The U.S. Forest Service said firefighters faced hot and very dry conditions Monday as flames tore through pockets of unburned vegetation around Thompson Peak and on the south edge of the fire.

Officials have said the massive fire was caused by a hunter who lost control of his campfire.

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Yosemite Fire

The Rim fire burning in Yosemite National Park is the third largest in California history. (KTXL)

GROVELAND, Calif. — The Rim fire burning in and around Yosemite National Park is now the third largest in California history as firefighters planned another attack this weekend.

The blaze, which erupted in the Stanislaus National Forest north of the Tuolumne River, has destroyed 111 buildings, including 11 homes and three businesses.

The cost of fighting the fire reached $84.8 million Friday. Six people have been injured. It started when a hunter let his illegal campfire get out of control, federal forest officials said.

About 1,900 structures remain threatened. About 3,600 firefighters are still in the area, down from more than 5,100.

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A massive wildfire that burned into revered Yosemite National Park was caused when a hunter “allowed an illegal fire to escape,” the U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday.


Firefighters stand at the ready as smoke rises from a managed burn along Highway 120 near the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite National Park on Aug. 28. (credit: Los Angeles Times)

A local fire official had said last month that an illegal pot-growing operation was the suspected cause of the Rim Fire, which had grown to more than 370 square miles since it was ignited Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest.

On Thursday morning, the Forest Service announced that its law enforcement branch and the Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office had determined the fire began when a hunter’s blaze escaped his or her control.

“There is no indication the hunter was involved with illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands and no marijuana cultivation sites were located near the origin of the fire,” the Forest Service news release stated. “No arrests have been made at this time and the hunter’s name is being withheld pending further investigation.”

The fire, burning in a rugged, mountainous area known as Jawbone Ridge, was 80 percent contained Thursday.

Some 4,500 structures had been threatened by the fire, and more than 100 were burned, including 11 homes, according to an official blog set up to provide information on the Rim Fire. The huge blaze — the fourth-largest in California history — had also threatened San Francisco’s water supply.

About 4,000 firefighters and other public safety workers were battling the fire. The fight had cost $81 million as of Thursday, the blog stated.

Several popular areas of iconic Yosemite National Park had been closed because of the fire, and Highway 120, which runs through the park, was partially shut down.

The huge wildfire that has been burning into Yosemite National Park for the last two weeks may have been started by an illegal marijuana growing operation, a local fire official said.

Yosemite Fire

Photo credit: KTXL

Six days after the Rim fire broke out in the middle of the Northern California forest, Twain Harte Fire and Rescue Chief Todd McNeal told a community meeting the blaze was definitely human-caused.

In his Aug. 23 talk, a video of which has been posted on YouTube, McNeal said that the fire started in a section of the Stanislaus National Forest inaccessible by foot or vehicle and that it was “highly suspected” that an illegal marijuana growing operation that sparked the blaze.

U.S. Forest Service and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials will say only that the cause of the Rim fire is under investigation.

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The Rim fire burning in and around Yosemite National Park became the fourth-largest blaze in California history as it grew to 348 square miles Sunday, officials said.

The wildfire, which began Aug. 17, is 40% contained with more than 5,000 firefighters battling the flames, according to the U.S. Forest Service. A September 1932 fire in Ventura County that burned 343 square miles previously held the spot, Cal Fire said.

San Diego’s 427-square-mile Cedar fire in Oct. 2003, which destroyed more than 2,800 structures and killed 14, remains the largest wildfire in state history. The blaze began as a signal fire set by a West Covina man who was separated from his companion on a deer hunting trip, according to Times archives.

Crews are making good progress on the Rim fire, particularly on the northwest side of the blaze, though local winds sparked new spot fires and the fire is continuing to expand to the northeast, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Trevor Augustino.

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GROVELAND, Calif. — As the Rim fire has burned into Yosemite National Park and into the record books, it has been watched around the world. From Washington, D.C., National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said he monitored the blaze’s progress daily as flames threatened Sierra Nevada communities, ancient sequoia groves and the reservoir that holds San Francisco’s water supply.

On Saturday, he went to see the blaze firsthand.


The Rim fire has grown to become the fifth largest wild fire in California’s history.

“This is a gnarly fire,” Jarvis told firefighters at a morning briefing. “It’s got high attention, huge fuels, big flame lengths and lots of really, really dry, climate-driven conditions.”

Jarvis visited what has become one of the largest wildfires in California history as it continued to expand slowly and deter some visitors to Yosemite at the start of the busy Labor Day weekend. Crews fighting the 222,777-acre blaze had reached 40% containment by Saturday evening.

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GROVELAND, Calif. — The Rim fire spread deeper into Yosemite National Park on Tuesday with flames racing unimpeded to the east even as firefighters shored up defenses for communities on the western edges of the blaze.


Russell Mitchell, with the Yosemite National Park’s fire crew, glances up as a U.S. Forest Service firefighting aircraft flies overhead. (Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

The fire was 20% contained by Tuesday evening, with almost all of the containment coming on the fire’s southwest edge. On the east, the fire has a relatively flat, clear path farther into Yosemite and the 3,700 firefighters battling the blaze have fewer options to control it.

“They’re in scouting mode,” Dick Fleishman of the U.S. Forest Service said of fire crews. “There’s not a lot of real good areas to get out in there and do a lot of work.”

The blaze has destroyed 111 buildings, including 31 residences, and is now the seventh-largest fire in state history, having spread across 281 square miles.

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