Bare Earth Elements: Rim Fire Roundup

by Timothy Oleson
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

[UPDATED Aug. 27, 3:15 p.m. EDT: According to the most recent information from Cal Fire, the burn area has now grown to 726 square kilometers (179,481 acres), making it the 7th largest fire by area in California history). The fire has reportedly destroyed 111 structures, including 31 residences, while containment is holding at 20 percent.]

By now you’ve surely heard about the massive and devasting Rim Fire that's been torching a growing swath of California for the last week and a half. The latest update from InciWeb, a federal interagency incident reporting system, says that the fire has burned about 650 square kilometers (~161,000 acres), currently making it the 11th largest fire by burn area in the state's history, according to information from CalFire.

Given the dry conditions to the west of Yosemite National Park where it's burning, and that it is just 20 percent contained, officials suspect it is likely to continue expanding and climbing the list of all-time worst wildfires in California. There is also concern that the fire will threaten nearby towns and Sequoia groves in Yosemite, along with water supplies for the Bay Area. On the glass-half-full side, however, the 20 percent containment is up from less than 10 percent just two days ago, and the fire has so far only destroyed 23 structures (though many more are endangered).

There is a tremendous amount of information available and reporting about the Rim Fire. Rather than repeat much of it, here is a roundup of sites where reliable information can be found:

InciWeb Incident Information System - Rim Fire page

U.S. Forest Service Wildfire page

Cal Fire (The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection)

NASA's Fire and Smoke page

Yosemite National Park

And some selected reporting on the fire:

L.A. Times - "Crews get first break against Rim fire"

NBC News - "'Unpredictable' Yosemite wildfire 20 percent contained but continues to grow'

Bad Astronomy Blog - "California Burning"

Mother Jones - "9 Scary Facts about the Yosemite Fire"

San Francisco Chronicle

  • "Yosemite fire threatens towns, S.F.'s reservoir"

National Geographic - "With Rim Fire Near, A Look at Yosemite's History With Fire"


  • "Firefighters rush to defend town from California's raging Rim fire"

Video shot from one of the California Air National Guard aircraft fighting the fire:

Read past wildfire coverage by EARTH:

"Policy in the Field: U.S. fire policy in the wake of catastrophic fire seasons"

  • August 2012

"Voices: Wildfires and debris flows: Federal mud"

  • March 2011

"When wildfires attack: Should I stay or should I go?"

  • June 2009

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