American Fire slowing down while Rim Fire continues growth

By From page A10 | August 28, 2013

As the growth of the American Fire near Foresthill slows and full containment is on the horizon, the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County continues to rapidly burn through the forest.

The American Fire, burning slightly less than 25,000 acres, was 80 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, an update to the U.S. Forest Service’s InciWeb Website stated.

Patrols continue on the south, west and north perimeters, with some pockets of heat extinguished Monday night. “Crews have completed burning operations adjacent to the Mosquito Ridge Road, along the eastern perimeter,” the update read. Crews were fighting low-intensity fires “with the intent of reducing ground fuels between the fire perimeter and the main fire. This tactic was highly successful as it reduced the potential of the main fire escaping containment lines.” The crews are also transitioning into detecting and eliminating hotspots.

Because of the high percent of containment, “crews have begun work repairing areas affected by fire fighting activities. This has included chipping material piled next to roads during fire line construction as well as identifying needs to construct water control devices along fire lines throughout the fire area.”

The updated noted, “The majority of the fire is landscaped with interior patchwork sources of heat as larger fuels are consumed. Containment efforts continue to target those hot spots where accessible. The most active portion of the fire is along the Deep Canyon drainage. Fire slowly has been backing down the slope at a low intensity and rate of spread.”

Personnel totals 1,283 with 25 hand crews, 72 engines, 11 bulldozers, 34 water tenders and six helicopters.

The fire is fueled by the litter and understory of timber. The growth potential is listed as high while the terrain is listed as extreme.

Meanwhile, both the size and the containment of the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County jumped. The conflagration, which has entered Yosemite National Park, has burned about 179,500 acres. Due to technical problems, information was limited in the update.

“Firefighters worked overnight on (Monday’s) spot fires and continued with line construction throughout the fire. Crews were successful in getting a dozer line around spot fires at Duckwall Mountain,” the InciWeb update read. “Firefighters were able to get line in, and successfully burn out the adjacent to Yosemite National Park south of Highway 120 to slow the spread of the fire.” Tuesday, crews were to continue on spot fires and structure defense while working on contingency containment lines in the Highway 108 corridor.

The fire is being fueled by brush, oaks and pine, with terrain and growth potential listed as extreme.

“Damage assessments from the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp revealed extensive losses of infrastructure. Rapid fire growth and extreme fire behavior are hampering suppression efforts,” the update reads. The effort is relying heavily on air tankers including¬†DC-10s and C-130s.

The cause of both fires is still under investigation. The estimated containment date for the American fire is Aug. 29; no estimated containment date was listed for the Rim Fire.

Cole Mayer

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