The Rim fire burning in and around America’s Yosemite National Park is now the third largest in California State history as thousands of firefighters continue to battle the four-week-old blaze.
The blaze, which erupted in the Stanislaus National Forest north of the Tuolumne River, has destroyed 111 buildings, including 11 homes and three businesses.
The cost of fighting the fire reached $84.8 million Friday. Six people have been injured. It started when a hunter let his illegal campfire get out of control, federal forest officials said.
About 1,900 structures remain threatened. About 3,600 firefighters are still in the area, down from more than 5,100.
Despite the fire being 80% contained, officials said they expect it to intensify as the flames burn through remaining vegetation within its interior.
The Rim fire has burned 246,350 acres, or 385 square miles, the US Forest Service said Friday. It surpassed the 2007 Zaca fire in Santa Barbara County for the third spot.
Federal officials have amassed a team of 50 scientists, more than twice what is usually deployed to assess wildfire damage.
"We're looking to evaluate what the potential is for flooding across the burned area," said Alan Gallegos, a team member and geologist with the Sierra National Forest. "We evaluate the potential for hazard and look at what's at risk - life, property, cultural resources, species habitat. Then we come up with a list of treatments."
Forestry experts blame years of drought and wrong government policies for the Yosemite inferno.