Anyone making the flights up and down California this morning could not fail to be impressed and awed by the monster smoke cloud being sent up over the Sierra from the Rim Fire. Bill Mabie shot this out the window on his flight from Burbank to Sacramento.
Of course, on the ground it's a scary situation. The fire is threatening more than 4,000 structures west of Yosemite and near Camp Mather. Firefighters are getting some control on the western side of the fire, but the eastern edge burning into Yosemite National Park is in wilder terrain and essentially out of control. For Yosemite the immediate task is to protect the giant sequoia trees in the hike-in Merced and Tuolumne groves. They are not currently threatened, the National Park Service says, but crews are working to safeguard the big trees.
Yosemite today did close more High Sierra areas and banned cooking fires in the wilderness:
Wilderness trail closures: The area west of the May Lake Road and May Lake Trail continuing to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at Glen Aulin and then north along the PCT to Bond Pass is closed. The park's boundary serves as the closure's northern and western edge extending south to Crane Flat Campground. The closure boundary continues east along the Tioga Road (Highway 120 through the park) to the May Lake Road. The Tioga Road and the trails serving as the eastern boundary of the closed area (including the PCT) remain open. May Lake High Sierra Camp, Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, and Porcupine Flat Campground are open.
Fire restrictions: No smoking and no building, maintaining, or using a fire, campfire or cooking fire (including charcoal fires) within the Yosemite Wilderness and potential wilderness additions. Portable stoves using gas or pressuring liquid fuel are allowed. Alcohol and Sierra stoves are not allowed. Campfires may still be used in designated campsites at designated campgrounds in non-wilderness areas within the park.
Also: Here was the satellite view posted by NASA Earth Observatory from last week.