TRUCKEE, Calif. — Crews started to gain a little ground Thursday on the metropolitan city-sized wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park hours south of Lake Tahoe.
The 301-square-mile Rim Fire was 30 percent contained Thursday, according to the U.S. Forest Service. More than 20,000 acres of the fire are along the northern edge of the 750,000-acre national park.
Tioga Pass Road through Yosemite is closed a half mile east of White Wolf, which means if you planned to go to the park this Labor Day weekend, you’ll have to go the long way.
Park officials say the eastern portion of the park, including Tuolumne Meadows, isn’t affected by the fire.
Nearly 5,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which started Aug. 17 and quickly became the sixth-largest California wildfire on record. Its progression slowed earlier this week but it is expected to burn for months.
So far, 11 homes, three commercial buildings and 97 outbuildings have been destroyed by the fire. Three firefighters have been injured, and the cost of fighting the fire is up to $39.2 million.
While air quality showed some improvement Thursday at Lake Tahoe, Truckee and the surrounding Washoe and Carson valleys, smoke from the Rim fire is expected linger into Labor Day weekend, and depending on weather patters, perhaps deep into September.
The National Weather Service issued a dense smoke advisory for the Truckee/Tahoe region until 8 p.m. Friday.
While the Rim fire rages on, the American fire burning in the Tahoe National Forest roughly a half hour west of Lake Tahoe was 98 percent contained as of midday Thursday, and was expected to be 100 percent mopped up by the evening.
The fire, at 26,194 acres Thursday, ignited Aug. 10 and had destroyed five structures, according to USFS. It is believed to be human-caused.