Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rim fire winding down

I hadn't been over to Inciweb's Rim Fire status page in a while, so I dropped in to see how the progress goes.

This is the long, slow, quiet part of the firefighting work: the part they call "mopping up", though there isn't a mop to be found.

After all these weeks, the fire remains only 80% contained, and there are still more than 2,000 firefighters working on it.

Conditions in the fire area remain complex:

Damage assessments of destroyed or damaged structures, infrastructure, and developments interior of the containment lines continues as interior fire activity subsides. The pockets of unburned fuel within the perimeter of the fire area continue to consume.

Small contingents of employees from Hetch Hetchy Power and Water have been allowed back into Mather.

Anyone traveling on roads within the fire area should use extreme caution. Fire personnel and equipment continue to work in the area. Hazards include smoke weakened trees (that may fall) and hot burning stump holes. If you must drive through the fire area please do not stop, leave the roadway, or enter the burned area on foot.

The dry language of the bureaucrat conceals an agony of effort.

The remaining direct fire-fighting activity is hard because it is in truly remote areas:

Continued fire spread to the northwest into the Yosemite Wilderness north of Hetch Hetchy is expected. Pockets of vegetation will continue to burn within the containment lines.

That terrain north of Hetch Hetchy is as rugged and remote as it gets in the lower 48 states; I suspect they'll have to just let that section of the fire burn itself out, possibly going until the first rains of the fall arrive in mid-October.

Meanwhile, before any of the damaged areas can be re-opened, including America's most beautiful mountain pass, Tioga Road, a lot of work must still be done:

Fire suppression repair has been completed on 30 miles of dozer lines, 2 miles of hand line, 36 miles of chipping (along roads), and 10 miles of roads.

It's a long, slow process, but the last 2 weeks have gone according to plan.

I doubt I will live to see the rebirth of this forest, but I have my memories of it, and I'll look forward to visiting it in the years to come, to see the healing start.

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