SONORA -- Gusting winds and low humidity are frustrating full containment of the Rim Fire, which has consumed 256,895 acres, or 401 square miles, of timber, meadows and sensitive wildlife habitat in Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest.
On Friday morning with wind gusts of 20 miles per hour and only 8 percent humidity, the fire was creeping up the steep granite cliffs above Cherry Lake and Lake Eleanor into Yosemite's back country and toward Emigrant Wilderness.
The anticipated containment date has been pushed back to October 1. The fire won't be fully extinguished until fall rains or winter snows.
The total cost of suppressing the inferno that started Aug. 17 when a hunter's illegal fire swept out of control has grown to more $118.1 million.
The Rim Fire, the largest blaze in Sierra recorded history, has damaged miles of wilderness roads, claimed a historic 1930s-era National Forest Guard Station and burned railroad ties from the region's old Sugar Pine logging trains.
But most of the campgrounds along the Tuolumne River were only minimally damaged.
The blaze has moved into steep areas inaccessible to firefighters but have no structures that require saving.
A new map of the fire's severity based on remote sensing images shows that 17,910 acres are considered "high burn" areas where the fire was hottest and did the most damage. Another 94,664 acres are "moderate burn," 99,784 are "low burn."
The remaining lands are unburned, creating a mosaic pattern of dead and living forest.
Contact Lisa M. Krieger at 650-492-4098.