Rim Fire weekend updates

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat

Sept. 14, 10:48 a.m. - Total acreage burned has reached 255,858 with containment at 80 percent. The number of structures threatened has fallen to 438 as firefighters - 2,170 personnel total - continue to strenghten and hold containment lines. Fire officials expect continued spread to the northwest into the Yosemite Wilderness north of Hetch Hetchy.Officials also stress that anyone traveling on roads within the burned area should use extreme caution and stay alert for fire personnel. Travelers should not stop, leave the roadway or enter burned areas on foot.Total cost to date is $109.2 million.

Sept. 8, 7:30 a.m. - Total acreage burned has reached 253,332.

Sept. 7, 7:15 p.m. - Total acreage burned has reached 252,521.

Sept. 7, 3:30 p.m. - A community meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Sunday in Eproson Park in Twain Harte, 22901 Meadow Drive. Fire authorities will brief attendees on the status of the fire and answer questions, according to the Stanislaus National Forest.

Air quality may be a concern over the weekend for much of Tuolumne County and eastern Calaveras County.

Much of Tuolumne County and eastern Calaveras County is in the "unhealthy" category of air quality, meaning poor air quality may now impact everyone, not just sensitive groups, according to the hourly Air Quality Index managed by the Environmental Protection Agency, shown on a map of California.

Steve Stine, public information officer for the U.S. Forest Service, said that heightened backburning activity on the northern portion of the fire, along the Clavey River has and may continue to bring heavier smoke west along the Highway 108 corridor.

The U.S. Forest Service update this morning said "Fire behavior observed overnight was limited to creeping and smoldering and the continued consumption of large diameter fuels."

However, "Firefighters conducted aerial firing operations using helicopters last night on two ridges on the northern portion of the fire significantly reducing the threat of the fire escaping containment lines on the northern flank. Unburned vegetation within the containment lines continued to burn out down the ridges throughout the night."

Stine said the two priorities in containment today are the northern area along the Clavey River drainage and southeast along Tioga Road within Yosemite National Park.

Increased backburning along the Clavey River is to eliminate heavy fuels that could allow the fire to jump containment lines, Stine said.

Near Yosemite, lack of electricity and ongoing fire hazard mitigation has kept Evergreen Lodge and associated employee housing, Mather, O-Shaughnessey and Aspen Valley evacuated, but "significant process" was being made to lift the evacuations, according to the Stanislaus National Forest update this morning.

About 2,490 structures remained threatened along the fire perimeter to the north, south and southeast this morning.

Sept. 7, 7:20 a.m. - Acreage has now reached 252,156.

The Union Democrat
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