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Wildfire becomes California's fourth-largest

Rim Fire grows to 901sq km, with hundreds of firefighters and prisoners involved in containment operation.

Last Modified: 02 Sep 2013 11:52
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According to the fire officials, more than $60 million has been spent on fighting the blaze [Reuters]

A huge California wildfire in and around Yosemite National Park has become the fourth largest in the state's modern history, according to fire officials.

The Rim Fire, which started two weeks ago and turned into the biggest blaze in the US this year, has grown to 901sq km, an area larger than the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose combined on Saturday.

It has claimed 111 constructions, 11 of them homes, but no lives.

The fire crews succeeded in slowing the spread of the flames over the weekend as as clouds and higher humidity helped them to contain the blaze.

Although the fire still is growing, it was 40 percent contained as of Sunday, up from 35 percent a day earlier. Full containment is not expected until September 20.

Almost 5,000 people including firefighters from across California and nearly 700 specially trained state prison inmates are working to put out the fire.

More than $60m has been spent on fighting the blaze, fire officials said on Sunday.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. However, a fire official with the information of the containment efforts told a community meeting in nearby Twain Harte last week that the blaze may have been started in an illegal marijuana-growing operation.

Nearly four million people visit Yosemite Valley each year, most going during the summer time.

The average number of visitors in August alone is almost 620,000 but attendance has fallen due to the fire.

Five of the California’s seven largest fires have occurred in last six years.

A 1,106sq km fire in San Diego County, which killed 14 people and destroyed more than 2,800 constructions a decade ago, tops the list of California's largest wildfires.

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