NEW: The Rim Fire, which has burned nearly 200,000 acres, is 32% contained
"It looked like a thunderhead cloud, but it was smoke," hiker says of fire's smoke
Blaze has cost more than $39 million to date
Forest Service chief says firefighting will continue for weeks
It was a rare bright spot on an otherwise hazy, smoke-filled horizon.
As firefighters worked to get a grip on one of the largest wildfires in California’s history, an evacuation advisory was lifted Thursday for residents in Tuolumne City, a picturesque community threatened by the blaze.
Known as the Rim Fire, the conflagration has charred nearly 200,000 acres, cost the state more than $39 million to date and is threatening 5,500 structures, of which 4,500 are residences.
Because of the approaching flames, officials have shut down electricity generators, and San Francisco – more than 120 miles to the west – is temporarily getting power from elsewhere.
While the Yosemite Conservancy says the Rim Fire has consumed tens of thousands of acres inside Yosemite National Park, it has so far had little or no direct impact on Yosemite Valley, a popular spot for tourists and home to many of the park’s iconic attractions, including the El Capitan rock formation.
Firefighters hope to keep it that way. Nearly 5,000 people have been assigned to tackling the blaze.
“This is going to be a tough fire,” said Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service. “It’s going to continue for a few more weeks.”
’It looked like a thunderhead cloud, but it was smoke’
The blaze has created challenges not only for utility providers, but also for local firefighters, who fill in for state and federal fire teams.