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.
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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.