Saturday, October 26, 2013

100% Contained

Almost didn't see Yosemite because of this.

The Rim Fire, which started Aug. 17 at Jawbone Ridge in the Stanislaus National Forest before spreading into Yosemite, was contained Thursday, forest service officials said.

The fire consumed 257,314 acres, or 402 square miles, and destroyed 11 homes, three commercial properties and 98 outbuildings before it was contained, officials said. Ten injuries were reported.

The fire’s total cost is estimated at more than $127 million. It is thought to be California’s third largest wildfire in recorded history, according to Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant.

Google Maps took me in by Highway 140; a more populated, smoother road that goes straight into Yosemite Valley. After spending the day there with my jaw on the ground at the magnificent beauty and my camera busy trying to catch the light, the thought of shooting pictures of burnt trees was heart-wrenching. Therefore, I didn't take very many. Trust me when I say that Highway 120 on the way out was miles and miles of charred landscape and orange fire retardant on both sides of the road, turnouts roped off because they didn't want people to stop.

Eventually I came to the place where it began...


... and got an overview of the damage...


This is looking toward Yosemite...


These were shot mere days before the government shutdown, a brief window where the fire was mostly out and the park still open. Governing Magazine has a story about the small towns that depend on the park for their living; needless to say the events of this year were a double-whammy for the area.

I drove through Groveland, the town featured at the link above, touched by all the signs thanking the fire fighters. Businesses offered specials on their behalf, and handwritten thanks dotted the trees in the front yards of the homes. There is nothing around for miles. The park is it, the park is life.

I didn't stop to shoot, the day getting late and the drive back long. Weeks after all the damage is done, the Republicans who shut down the park introduced legislation to keep it open "the next time" they decided to pull such a stunt. Little good it does their constituents now.

Fire is a natural disaster. The Republicans, however, are purely a man-made one. Why in the world would you ever vote for that?

Yosemite pictures coming soon.