California’s Rim fire has burned more than 230 square miles

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Threatening communities near Yosemite National Park, California’s Rim fire is one of the largest in the state’s history. Fire crews continued to fight multiple blazes on Day 10.

Crews get first break against Rim fire
Crews battle the massive Rim fire on more level ground and tankers are able to drop retardant on accessible ridges.
By Diana Marcum, Samantha Schaefer and Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times
1:50 a.m. EDT, August 27, 2013

GROVELAND, Calif. — On Day 10 of the Rim fire — even as the blaze scorched its way deeper into the northern end of Yosemite National Park — firefighters got their first small break Monday against massive forces of nature.

As the fire reached higher elevations, climbing out of steep ravines, crews could take their stand on more level ground. Huge air tankers could finally drop retardant on accessible ridges.

The fire has charred a swath of nearly 161,000 acres — including about 21,000 acres inside the park. It has destroyed at least 23 structures, and threatens two groves of giant sequoias and historical structures in the famed park. But about 25 miles away, the tourist magnet of Yosemite Valley remained safe, surrounded by its famed granite walls.

The fire is burning hotter and faster than any in modern Sierra Nevada history, firefighters say. Officials say it is the California wildfire they have warned about for years, as modern firefighting techniques have snuffed out forest fires, allowing fuel to build up on the mountain floor.

“This is it. This is the big one,” Yosemite Fire Chief Kelly Martin said.

Yet containment reached 20% — up from 7% Sunday.

“The fire will burn until the snow flies,” said Tom Medema, a Yosemite National Park interpretive ranger. “But today, we finally had a chance to box it in.”

The most hopeful sign was written in the sky.

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