Officials working to suppress the Rim Fire still aim to have the fire fully surrounded by Sept. 20, even as it slowly grows and firefighters work to hold containment at 80 percent.
The blaze as of this morning had burned 255,146 acres, up about 500 acres in 24 hours, according to the Stanislaus National Forest.
“The reported containment percentage will increase when fire activity subsides,” a U.S. Forest Service update said this morning.
Extreme hot and dry conditions have kept firefighters hustling to contain spot fires — new fires at or past containment lines — for the last several days. But Tuesday concluded with crews fully containing all identified spot fires, according to Mark Healey, public information officer for the Rim Fire.
Today and Thursday, milder weather, including higher humidity and lower temperatures, is forecast. That is expected to aid firefighters and reduce the eruption of spot fires.
Most of the spot fires have been on the southeastern flank of the fire, along Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park. This area continues to be the most active edge of the fire, while much still burns within the fire perimeter.
Pockets of unburned vegetation, or “islands,” continue to burn within the fire perimeter along the Clavey River, Reynolds Creek and Jawbone Creek drainages and west of Harden Lake and Harden Road.
“It’s not likely at this point” that the fire will take off, said Healey, but the Stanislaus National Forest update this morning raised its estimate of fire growth potential from Tuesday’s high back to extreme.
This was done because of overall unfavorable weather, Healey said.
Crews will continue to mop up and monitor containment lines, including the more “passive” containment line formed by granite along the northwestern corner of Yosemite National Park and reaching just to the edge of the Emigrant Wilderness at about 8,000 feet elevation, according to Healey.
Electricity continues to be restored to area communities and midday Tuesday Evergreen Road was opened just to Evergreen Lodge. The communities of O’Shaughnessy and Aspen Valley were still without power this morning.
Just shy of 300 personnel were released Tuesday, leaving 2,735.
Authorities have remained tight-lipped about the fire’s cause, other than confirming it was sparked by a hunter’s campfire in a remote area of the Clavey River drainage.
The Forest Service would not confirm if he was a bow hunter, but it was the first day of bow hunting season for deer and bear in the area and rifle season had not opened yet.
The campfire was illegal as no fires were allowed outside designated campgrounds in the forest at that time.
The Rim Fire will continue to burn well past the full containment date, according to fire officials. The interior will be allowed to burn until ultimately extinguished by winter weather after a sufficient perimeter is set.