Big gains on wildfire near Yosemite National Park

Mild weather conditions help contain fire at 70 percent while the cause of the blaze is being investigated

Firefighters hike away from a section of the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park on Sunday.
Reuters/Mike McMillan/USFS

Fire crews took advantage of a relatively cool and humid day to make major progress Monday toward containing a massive wildfire searing the edge of Yosemite National Park.

The fire was 70 percent contained at nightfall, up from 45 percent some 24 hours earlier, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The blaze now covers 368 square miles, about 20 square miles more than Sunday night.

Fire weather was still classified as extreme while outdoor temperatures were above 90 degrees and winds in some spots gusted at 20 mph, but Monday was cooler than many recent days, with more moisture and cloud cover.

Full containment is not expected until Sept. 20.

Crews will continue building fire lines and burning away the fire's potential fuel sources Monday.

"We do have a nice window here of more cooperative weather," state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

However, gusty winds and drier conditions are expected midweek, again raising the fire danger, Berlant said.

The blaze started Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest, and two-thirds of the land that has burned since then is located there. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

The fire -- the fourth largest in California history -- has claimed 111 structures, 11 of them homes. About 4,500 structures are threatened.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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