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    Firefighters Gain Ground on Rim Fire as Cause is Discovered

    By by Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
    September 11, 2013, 3:18:50 AM EDT

    Thick smoke from the Rim Fire blaze has begun drifting into the Yosemite Valley, a popular scenic destination for visitors to the Yosemite National Park.

    Nearly 3,500 firefighters continue to battle the massive blaze that has consumed more than 253,000 acres since its start on Aug. 17. The blaze is now the third-largest wildfire in California history.

    Last Thursday, the Incident Information System confirmed in a news release that the fire began on Aug. 17 after a hunter allowed an illegal fire to escape.

    Investigators from the U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and the Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office said they are withholding the hunter's name pending further investigation.

    No arrests have been made at this time. Additionally, there have been no indications that the hunter was involved with any illegal marijuana cultivation, the Forest Service said.

    The fire, now 80 percent contained, has resulted in poor air quality for many surrounding areas.

    "Visitors to Yosemite should expect periods of smoky conditions, depending on winds and fire behavior," the National Park's Air Quality and Smoke Monitoring page read on Wednesday.


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    On Tuesday, the fire grew a total of 1,700 acres as southwest transport winds pushed smoke into communities northeast of the fire, including Pinecrest, Bear Valley, Markleeville, Minden, Carson City and the Lake Tahoe Basin.

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    Skies cleared in Sonora, the Yosemite Valley, El Portal and the San Joaquin Valley.

    Until the end of August, the Yosemite National Park stressed on social media that conditions remained clear in most heavily-trafficked areas. The Yosemite Valley had seen few effects of the fire until Aug. 31.

    However, some progress has been made as Friday afternoon, Highway 120 from Groveland to Yosemite National Park reopened to visitors.

    Despite the road's reopening, visitors are prohibited to stop along the roadway due to continued fire activity.


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    Approximately 2,490 structures remain threatened to the south, southeast and north of the fire, and 111 structures have already been destroyed.


    Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Jillian MacMath at macmathj@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Jillian or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

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