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Crews make overnight gains on Yosemite wildfire

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From page A2 | September 03, 2013 | Leave Comment

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (AP) — A massive wildfire burning around Yosemite National Park in California is now 75 percent contained.

State fire spokesman Daniel Berlant says crews made good progress against the Rim Fire overnight, increasing containment from 70 to 75 percent. The fire — one of the largest in California history — also did not grow significantly, with higher humidity moderating fire behavior.

The blaze has now burned about 369 square miles.

The fire began on Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest, and two-thirds of the land burned since then is located there as well. The cause is being investigated.

It has claimed 111 structures, 11 of them homes.

Full containment is not expected until Sept. 20.

Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for some south of Highway 120 and Tioga Road west of Yosemite Creek Picnic Area is closed.

Crews continued building fire lines and burning away the fire’s potential fuel sources on Monday.

Clouds and higher humidity slowed flames from advancing through brush and trees on Sunday and Monday, giving firefighters room to set backfires, dig containment lines and to strengthen lines around threatened communities, fire spokesman Trevor Augustino said.

The 2-week-old Rim Fire moved up a spot to fourth on the state’s list of large wildfires dating back to 1932 on Sunday when it grew to 351 square miles — an area larger than the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose combined, Berlant said.

Meanwhile, the dense smoke that obscured Yosemite’s majestic views for the first time on Saturday and prompted air quality warnings was starting to ease, park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.

Although park officials advised visitors to avoid heavy exertion, Cobb said she has seen people outside running “and enjoying Yosemite, despite the smoke.”

“The park was actually busier than I thought it would be,” she said.

A 427-square-mile fire in San Diego County that killed 14 people and destroyed more than 2,800 structures a decade ago tops the list of California’s largest wildfires.

The Associated Press

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