August 27th, 2013
11:06 AM ET

Yosemite Wildfire Only 20% Contained

The massive wildfire burning in-and-around Yosemite National Park continues to rage as some 3,600 firefighters battle to contain it.

The Rim Fire is one of the largest in California's history. It has already consumed more than 160 thousand acres and is only about 20% contained, CNN’s Nick Valencia reports. 

Crews are determined to keep the blaze from spreading further into Yosemite, especially Yosemite Valley, home of the Half Dome rock formation.

"Visitors are through here by the thousands, going into the north entrance of the park. This year that's not going to happen," says Lee Bentley, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

 Valencia says, “the dangerous inferno is still rated to have extreme ‘growth’ potential as massive flames ignite rows of trees and dry brush.”

“More than two dozen aircraft are being used to fight the fire, the steep terrain making it nearly impossible to access some of the forest by land.”

The Rim Fire also threatens a reservoir that supplies both water and power sources for San Francisco, as well as several groves of towering age-old sequoias.

Near the fire lines, Groveland, California, seems like a ghost town.

One bar owner says its peak season is leading into Labor Day, but with the highway into Yosemite closed, her business in Groveland is down a staggering 98%.

"Everyone who lives here and owns businesses here is terrified," Iron Door Saloon owner Corinna Loh says.

While the economic impact is yet to be seen, businesses and residents are grateful for the thousands of firefighters risking their lives to try and contain the inferno. Of that personnel, Valencia says that only two have reported minor injuries.

He says, “It’s also a remarkable note, for as large as this fire is, no one has died.”

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