5 Mindblowing Facts About the Yosemite Wildfire

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In case you haven’t heard already, a pretty big chunk of northern California is burning down. A blaze that’s being referred to as the “Rim Fire” has been burning for roughly 10 days and has already laid waste to nearly 161,000 acres of land. As the fast-spreading inferno continues to grow, it becomes more and more of a danger to Yosemite National Park, and has even become a threat to some essential water and power sources. It has taken round-the-clock efforts from more than 3,500 firefighters and 20 helicopters and air tankers to combat the inferno, but an end doesn’t seem to be in sight.

5 It’s Killing Tourism

It’s not surprising that an enormous, raging inferno might deter eager vacationers from enjoying the area, and thanks to that, surrounding businesses are now feeling the economic heat of the Rim Fire. In the midst of what is normally the height of Yosemite tourist season, thousands were forced to evacuate the park while countless others have been kept from ever arriving. Now, issues with air quality, road closures and the general consensus that being engulfed in flames is no fun, will likely keep tourists away for the foreseeable future.

4 It’s Costing San Francisco

The rapid spread of the Rim Fire has also forced the city of San Francisco to dig deep into their pockets for water and energy. Hetch Hetchy, an area that sits just 4 miles from the current edge of the fire, is home to three hydroelectric power stations that supply nearly all of San Fran’s power for city services, and a reservoir that provides more than 80% of the city’s water. The proximity of the blaze has already caused the closure of two power stations, leading California officials to declare a state of emergency and forcing the city to pay out of pocket to get its water and energy elsewhere.

3 It Could Be a Sign

The size and spread of this particular blaze offers a troubling possibility; it could be a sign of things to come. With each passing year, the weather in the west becomes increasingly hotter and drier, causing conditions that can sustain a disaster like the Rim Fire for weeks on end. Today, the fire season in California lasts two months longer and destroys roughly twice as much land as it did just forty years ago, and the Rim Fire proves that those statistics will likely only continue to worsen.

2 Bad Location

The geographical location of the Rim Fire has greatly contributed to its rapid growth, thanks to the fact that it is a particularly difficult fire to fight. The Yosemite area is remote and diverse, making it difficult to navigate, especially with the firefighting equipment necessary to suppress such an inferno. The varied and unpredictable winds in the area have also made it difficult to predict where the blaze will go next, and have facilitated its spreading in all directions.

1 It’s Massive

With each passing day the Rim Fire climbs the list of the largest wildfires in California history. It has already broken into the top 20, and is still growing fast. In its initial stages the blaze was doubling in size each day, and while it has since slowed, it’s still spreading through dry brush on the ground and treetop canopies simultaneously, making it’s expansion that much more difficult to stifle. To put things in perspective, the Rim Fire has already engulfed an area larger than the entire city of Chicago.

Thankfully, three of the 5 Highest Paid Fire Departments are in the same region as this devastating blaze.

Check out our 5 Historical Disasters you should be glad you missed for a little perspective.

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