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Rim Fire declared California's fourth largest wildfire

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

While the Rim fire continues to rage near the Yosemite Park area, officials have declared the long-burning blaze as the State of California's fourth largest wildfire of all time. The bright side: Unlike other wildfires of years past, no human lives have been lost - as of yet.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Clouds and higher humidity helped crews further contain the biggest blaze in the United States this year.

The two-week-old Rim Fire moved up a spot on the state's list of large wildfires dating back to 1932 when it grew to 348 square miles, which is an area larger than the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose combined.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant says that while the fire still is growing, it was 40 percent contained as of Sunday, up from 35 percent a day earlier.

More humidity in the air was expected to slow flames from advancing through brush and trees, giving firefighter's room to set backfires, dig containment lines and to strengthen lines around threatened communities, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Pam Baltimore said.

It's still a long ways away before fire fighters here can call it a day: Full containment is not expected until September 20.

The fire began August 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest and two-thirds of the land burned since then is located there as well. In Yosemite, 94 square miles have burned. The cause remains under investigation, Baltimore said.

"Either way, if it was lightning or human-caused, they have not released any findings and we are not sure if and when that will be released," she said.

Heavy smoke that covered Yosemite's historical views dissipated for the first time on Saturday and prompted air quality warnings was starting to ease, Yosemite Park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.

Park officials have advised visitors to avoid heavy exertion, Cobb said she has seen people outside running "and enjoying Yosemite, despite the smoke."

"The park was actually busier than I thought it would be," she added.

A 427-square-mile fire in San Diego County that killed 14 people and destroyed more than 2,800 structures a decade ago tops the list of California's largest wildfires.

The Rim Fire has claimed 111 structures, 11 of them homes, but no one has lost their life on account of the fire. 

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