Colorado Rural Protection firefighter Molly McGee fights the Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest in California, Thursday, August 22, 2013. (Andy Alfaro/Modesto Bee/MCT)
Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News reported that the massive Rim Fire rumbled into Yosemite National Park on Friday, threatening to burn thousands of homes and disrupt vacation plans across the Sierra Nevada, with smoke drifting all the way to Lake Tahoe.
The Tuolumne County fire nearly doubled in size overnight into Friday, and by evening it stretched over about 125,620 acres, or 196 square miles -- larger than the size of San Jose. It was just a few hundred acres short of becoming the 15th-largest wildfire in California recorded history, dating back to 1932, and was expected to grow this weekend, Cal Fire officials said.
Smoke from the Yosemite blaze combined with the mostly contained, 2-week-old, 20,000-acre American Fire smoldering in a forest west of Lake Tahoe, dispersing ash and dirty air over the Tahoe-Reno area. The fires cast a pall on three of the most popular vacation destinations for Bay Area residents looking for one last summer getaway.
"I think about the people out there doing the rough camping that are miles away from their car. That's got to be scary." said Pleasanton resident Shelby McNamara, who just returned from the fire area.
Yosemite, oddly enough, was perhaps the least affected, as the vast majority of the park remained open, and the wind blew the smoke away from tourist destinations at the center of the park. By contrast, officials declared the air quality unhealthy in the Reno area, more than 100 miles north of the Rim Fire.