Travel Restrictions Through Yosemite National Park In Place As Rim Fire Becomes California’s Sixth Largest; Could Affect Labor Day Traffic

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Yosemite Fire
Fire creeps through the forest at the Rim Fire just outside of Yosemite National Park, California, August 27, 2013.

Firefighters have closed down a part of the Yosemite National Park in California in an attempt to control the massive blaze that has been spreading through the region since it started on Aug. 17 in a remote canyon of the Stanislaus National Forest, which is about 120 miles west of Yosemite.

According to a Reuters report, authorities on Wednesday shut down a long stretch of Tioga Road through the western half of the park in a bid to contain the blaze to about 30 percent. Last week, a stretch of Highway 120 that leads into the west side of the park was closed, and on Wednesday, the closure was extended eastward along the highway.

"That will limit the access for visitors to and from the east side of the park, quite possibly over Labor Day weekend, which will have a significant economic impact on the area and (be)an inconvenience for visitors," Tom Medema, a spokesperson at Yosemite, told Reuters.

Cooler temperature, lighter wind and high humidity levels gave firefighters “a greater opportunity to get in there and strengthen our containment lines," Daniel Berlant, a Cal Fire spokesman, told the Los Angeles Times.

According to Berlant, the fire will be fully contained by Sept. 10, as the rate of the fire’s spread has slowed down considerably since it started. The cause of the Rim Fire, as it has come to be called, is still being investigated and, as of Wednesday, the blaze had spread to more than 300 square miles or 192,500 acres.

According to the Reuters report, more than 4,500 firefighters aided by bulldozers, water-dropping helicopters and airplane tankers carrying flame-retardant chemicals, were battling the wildfire, which has now become the sixth-largest in California's history.

The Rim Fire has so far destroyed 111 structures, among them 31 residences, Fox News reported, adding that 4,500 structures still remained threatened. No serious injuries have so far been reported.

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