Weekend storms could be a mixed blessing for crews battling California’s largest wildfire.
The latest estimates from the state fire agency suggest that firefighting crews were able to control the Rim Fire — now the state’s largest — but that they could have to work through the weekend to complete a dangerous task: moving up to 1,500 acres of land at a time to new, more accessible locations.
California officials and firefighting officials are trying to avoid that in the wake of the deadly Camp Fire, which began at the same time and destroyed 1,275 buildings in the community of Paradise.
The current blaze, in the Kincade area west of Paradise, remains at least 6 miles wide and 100 miles long, and, as of Sunday afternoon, was 93 percent contained.
With crews moving back and forth over what has been a rugged landscape before and after the fire, officials have come to expect a potential weekend respite in the midst of a wildfire season that’s expected to last another four months.
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That doesn’t appear to be the case with the Rim Fire, and it could spell trouble for firefighters over the weekend.
The Rim Fire was reported in early September at 14,735 acres but since then has grown to 25,922 acres. Its containment is now at 81 percent. With 2,600 firefighters fighting the blaze, officials have said it could take them another six days to reach the fire’s 10,500-acre total.
While firefighters have long been able to get burned up at a fire, this is the first time they have needed to do so this far into the fire season.
The Rim Fire comes as California firefighters are battling the largest wildfire in California history: the Camp Fire, which has claimed at least 88 lives and destroyed 1,118 buildings in the town of Paradise.
The California Forestry and Fire Protection Agency says the Camp Fire is the single largest blaze in state history, and that the state’s largest wildfire, the Kincade Fire, started Nov. 8 in the same area.
“That’s why it’s going to take much longer than we expected to be able to get to those areas,” Lt. Gov. Gavin News