The two-month-old Rim Fire was fully contained this morning, while recovery workers hustle this weekend to set erosion controls before the first major precipitation of the season arrives.
The now-smoldering fire, which decimated more than 257,000 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park, has been burning itself out against a granite barrier at its northeast edge, between Cherry Lake and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir at about 8,000 feet in elevation. The fire had been hovering at 95 percent containment since the first week of this month.
Estimated full containment — meaning a barrier has been created around the entire fire — had been pushed back four times since late September. That was due to unfavorable weather and a decision by incident commanders to not make a final push and risk firefighter injury in extreme terrain.
Land recovery efforts are moving forward, ahead of the first major storm of the season.
The Burned Area Emergency Response team — comprised of forest and soil-science experts — offered some estimates of how much rain would be required to trigger rock slides, flash floods, debris flows and ash movement in the burned areas:
• 0.2 inch in 15 minutes
• 0.3 inch in 30 minutes
• 0.5 inch in 1 hour
• 0.9 inch in 3 hours
• 1.4 inches in 6 hours
The team said erosion control measures were 69 percent complete as of their latest assessment Monday.
In other Rim Fire developments, state Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, and Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors District 2 representative Randy Hanvelt took an aerial tour Wednesday of the burn area and spoke with fire officials about the firefight.
Berryhill also commended the governor for a Wednesday executive order that suspended environmental regulations for tree and debris removal.
The order also directed the state Office of Emergency Services to aid local disaster-assistance organizations and suspended the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance applications for anyone directly unemployed from the Rim Fire.