Could the Ferguson Fire burn into the Rim Fire?

Four miles separate the two fires

Ferguson Fire Rim Fire
Map showing the 2013 Rim Fire and the 2018 Ferguson Fire as of July 21, 2018. Click to enlarge.

At its peak the 2013 Rim Fire east of Sonora, California, had over 5,000 personnel assigned. At over 257,000 acres it stands today as the fourth largest wildfire in the recorded history of California, 30 miles wide, west to east. Most of the blaze was in the Stanislaus National Forest but it spread into Yosemite National Park where it burned almost 79,000 acres of the Park’s back country, but never made it to the most visited area, Yosemite Valley.

CLICK HERE to see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Ferguson Fire, including the most recent.

The Ferguson Fire which as been burning for 10 days already has 2,900 personnel assigned and reached 30,000 acres Saturday. So far it has not destroyed any structures. As large as it was, the Rim Fire burned a surprisingly small number of structures — 11 homes, 3 commercial buildings, and 98 outbuildings. But if the Ferguson Fire grows east in a big way, several communities would be at risk, including El Portal, Foresta, Yosemite West, and possibly Wawona.

For the last week the Ferguson Fire has been slowed by inversions that typically do not break until mid-afternoon, after which it has been adding several thousand acres each day. If the weather changes and brings a strong wind with a westerly component, the complexion of the fire will change dramatically. In two days in mid-August, the Rim Fire burned nearly 90,000 acres.

Saturday night only four miles separated the Ferguson Fire from the footprint of the 2013 Rim Fire. If it does burn into it, the resistance to control should decrease, allowing firefighters a better chance to stop it in that area. If the north end of the Ferguson Fire spreads northeast three miles it will burn into Yosemite National Park. From that point, Yosemite Valley would be 13 miles to the east.

The Fire History map the Incident Management Team uploaded to InciWeb on July 21 is very cluttered and extremely difficult to decipher, but there have been some fires in the last 20 to 40 years years north of Highway 140 and east of the Ferguson Fire which, to a certain extent, may help firefighters a bit.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

4 thoughts on “Could the Ferguson Fire burn into the Rim Fire?”

  1. The area between the Ferguson Fire burned in 1987 in the Stanislaus Complex. I was the District Hydrologist for the Grovelsnd District in the early 90’s and did an analysis that showed that most of the plantations that we were trying to establish would never make it to rotation age.

    This area is well roadbed and not steep. However it’s probably a mix of 30 ft ceanothus and 25 yr old plantations. I hope the plantations are spared a lot of work went into establishing them.

  2. At the tenacious rate this fire has been burning doubled with the fact that the next several days are expected to reach triple digit temperatures– I have absolutely no double this fire will likely balloon its way to the Rim fire. That being said, the 2013 burn area will make a anchor point of defense to keep the fire from burning much further north at that point.

  3. If the fire reaches the old burn at the Rim that should allow personnel to put it down quick. Not a lot of fire wood in the Rim Burn.

  4. In 2009, the park ignited the Big Meadow prescribed fire in Foresta, which escaped and grew to 7425 acres. That may assist with a reduced fuel zone to the north of Foresta, towards the Rim fire. Foresta has received many fuel treatment around it over the years, and Wawona has also been the focus of much of the park’s hazard fuels program. The Ferguson fire map resembles the 1990 A-Rock and Steamboat fires, which started near each other. A-Rock ((17700 acres), came up from below and overran Foresta, while Steamboat ((6106 acres), burned toward, but missed, Yosemite West. Steep country, and repeated fires on the north side of the Merced canyon have really stimulated brush growth.

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