California’s third-largest fire in modern history is still growing, despite more than 3,100 firefighters working to contain it. So far, it has overtaken 11 homes and 97 buildings, and has cost $100 million to fight. It began in Stanislaus National Forest on August 17, and has been burning in and around the entirety of Yosemite National Park ever since. To date, it is 80% contained. OpenDataCity has created a graphic demonstrating just how fast this fire spread.
The fire is said to have been caused by a neglected campfire, illegally set near Yosemite. Due to a perfect storm of dry, hot conditions, changing wind patterns, and no humidity to speak of, the fire quickly raged out of control. For the first few days, the fire doubled in size every day. By August 22, the flames and the smoke were visible from space, as shown in this satellite photo of California (Jeff Schmaltz/NASA).
The fire keeps on growing due not only to weather conditions, but also the specific characteristics of the Yosemite area. Yosemite is a dry, remote area with two main levels — low brush and high tree canopies. This allows the rim fire to burn on two levels, on the ground and in the treetops, making it supremely difficult for firefighters to reach. The topography of Yosemite also plays a part. With steep, rocky terrain, many areas of the park are simply impenetrable for firefighters and their equipment.
This fire is expected to burn for at least a week or more, and may smolder for months.