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Full containment for Rim Fire pushed back to Oct.

Saturday, September 21, 2013
Firefighter battles Rim Fire flames

Firefighters at the massive Rim Fire that's burning in and around Yosemite National Park say full containment likely won't come until Oct. 1.

That's nearly a week and a half later than the original estimate, which was this past Friday.

The delay is due to flames spreading in high-elevation forests near Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Fire officials say the warm weather continues to fuel the fire.

The fire has consumed about 400 square miles, and within that footprint are a solid 60 square miles that burned so intensely that everything is dead, researchers said.

"In other words, it's nuked," said Jay Miller, senior wildland fire ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service. "If you asked most of the fire ecologists working in the Sierra Nevada, they would call this unprecedented."

Smaller pockets inside the fire's footprint also burned hot enough to wipe out trees and other vegetation.

In total, Miller estimates that almost 40 percent of the area inside the fire's boundary is nothing but charred land. Other areas that burned left trees scarred but alive.

While the landscape has been ravaged, the soil that determines the amount of post-fire erosion that might occur when winter storms hit didn't suffer as badly as scientists feared.

It is now the third largest fire in state history.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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