CALIFORNIA: Firefighters battling the stubborn Rim Fire near Yosemite finally contained more than half of the wildfire on Monday, reaching 60 percent containment.
Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant issued the good news early on Labor Day, adding that the Rim Fire has now charred 228, 670 acres, or 357 square miles – more than seven times the size of San Francisco.
The containment should only grow, he added, as the weather forecast for Northern California should see cooler temperatures and even some possible rain.
The fire has been burning since Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest. Investigators are now looking into the possibility that illegal marijuana growers could be to blame.
Todd McNeal, fire chief in the town of Twain Harte, west of Yosemite, said at an Aug. 23 community meeting, captured on YouTube, that officials “know it’s human caused, there’s no lightning in the area. … (We) highly suspect that it might be some sort of illicit grove, marijuana grow-type thing.”
As of Monday, the Rim Fire remained the 4th largest wildfire in California’s history, edging out a 222,777-acre fire that burned in Ventura County in 1932. The third largest fire is now the Zaca fire in Santa Barbara, which burned more than 240,000 acres in July 2007.
And it is just one of seven major wildfires being battled across the state. Berlant said that a new fire ignited Saturday on the Tule Indian Reservation in Tulare County, burning 250 acres.