Rim Fire affects visitation in Yosemite over holiday weekend

September 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
After localized winds created several spot fires over Labor Day weekend Crews were able to make considerable progress fighting the Rim Fire.

The blaze has grown to more than 228,000 acres and is now the fourth largest in California history. More than 100 structures have been destroyed since the fire started on August 17, and 4,500 homes remain threatened. The fire hurt visitation in Yosemite over Labor Day weekend.

Conditions are changing frequently in Yosemite, depending on the wind. But the smoke was thick Saturday and Sunday morning, and rangers say visitation is down for the long holiday weekend. Tourists are once again enjoying the spectacular sights in Yosemite Monday after thick smoke obscured views over the weekend.

"Saturday we went up, hiked down Glacier Point to the Valley on the Panorama Trail, and it was basically like hiking in the clouds. You couldn't see at all," Patricia Foreman form Burbank said.

A smoky haze covered Curry Village Saturday. But by Monday afternoon it was sunny and clear enough to spot a young buck enjoying a snack.

"It cleared out yesterday, and it's been gorgeous conditions, and we were even able to take pictures of stars last night," said Mark Stetson from Burbank.

Fire officials are keeping visitors updated on the blaze burning along the northern edge if the park. At this point about 8 percent of Yosemite is inside the fire line.

"The park is over 800,000 acres big, and I believe we're about 66,000 acres in park property now, and a lot of it in the park is area where people don't use really," Doug Rogers from the Rim Fire information officer said.

The flames have forced the closure of the Highway 120 entrance, so drivers from Sacramento and the Bay Area have to take Highway 140 through Mariposa instead. Still, Roma Harpalani says the detour didn't bother her as much as the ash she saw falling from the sky.

"It was quite smoky and difficult to breathe, and my son has had asthma in the past so there was concern for his health." Harpalani said.

The smoke could return at any time depending on the wind, but for now the only sight in the sky is the clouds casting shadows over these iconic granite cliffs.

The fire is expected to be fully contained by September 20.


Load Comments