The California Rim Fire is roaring through Yosemite and dropping ash into a major source of pure water used by millions of Californians, particularly in the Bay Area. The fire has burned up an incredible 160,980 acres on Yosemite National Park’s north west side, an area equivalent to just over 250 square miles. For comparison, Chicago is 234 square miles.
The fire is too large for most of us to comprehend all at once, but through the combined media of satellite photos, helicopter footage, and shots from the ground, we can start to get a sense of the scope and power of the California Rim Fire. One also starts to get a sense of the efforts to contain the fire before it gobbles up much of Yosemite National Park, one of California’s true gems.
A currently unnecessary sign from the parks service marks a boundary the California Rim Fire will not respect (Reuters):
A fire fighter works to protect Yosemite from the California Rim Fire (Reuters):
Smoke and ash blanket the area all around the northwest area of Yosemite. Recent reports have stated that the California Rim Fire now has its own weather system (Reuters):
The California Air National Guard has released incredible footage of the Rim Fire from the cockpits of its helicopters. This view may be the best way to get the size and power of the California Rim Fire. The fire appears mostly as a thick wall of smoke, but at various points, one can see the volcanic brightness of the fire within. The people communicating from and to the the cockpit refer to the "retardant line," presumably an outline of fire retardant meant to prevent the fire from crossing that border.
Here is a wide shot of a helicopter (not necessarily the same one) up against the smoky background of the California Rim Fire (Reuters):
Much of the fight against the California Rim Fire is, of course, happening on the ground. John Graf of Sacramento is show here, attempting to hold the line (Reuters):
Perhaps most striking is that the California Rim Fire can be seen from space. This image comes from NASA's Terra satellite. The fire and the smoke it emits can clearly be seen in the center of the image (NASA):
Here is one more video of the California Rim Fire. In this one, we get a better view of the actual fire, especially around the one minute mark.