Reporting Anjali Hemphill
TUOLUMNE COUNTY (CBS13) — The Rim Fire has grown to more than 125,000 acres and is threatening 5,500 homes with just five percent containment.
It’s burning northeast of Groveland in the Stanislaus National Forest in Tuolumne County.
Four homes have already been destroyed by the fire.
Highway 120, the main access road to Yosemite National Park is still closed until crews can replace around 1,000 guardrail posts along the roadway that were destroyed in the fire.
Hundreds of people who live in the area came to a community meeting, worried about where they live.
“We are up all night, every night, just wondering if its gonna come across the line and come toward us.”
It’s been several days, but flames from the Rim Fire continue to shoot up toward the sky. With the fire swallowing everything in its path.
“It’s scary. You just don’t want to see your house go up, so many memories in the last year.”
Neighbors watch as a helicopter hovers over their homes, picking up more water to fight the growing flames as thick smoke fills the valley.
“The beauty of Pine Mountain Lake and Yosemite, that’s the part you can rebuild. But you can’t put trees up. Displaced animals, it’s just real sad.
The plume of smoke from the fire is so big it creates its own weather patterns inside, making it even harder for crews to predict where the fire burns next.
“It’s Backdraft, the movie. It sucks the air out and all of a sudden you get a wind coming from nowhere, and it’s not windy up here. It’s just the fire that’s pulling all the oxygen so it can breathe.”
Crews say the dry brush and rugged terrain make getting into the fire on foot to build containment lines very difficult.
“It’s drier than lumber you buy at a lumberyard out in the forest.”
Many have been forced from their homes already, but others who haven’t had to leave just yet are bracing for the worst as an unpredictable inferno devours the land around them.
“We pray that no one loses their life or their homes, but Mother Nature is going to take its course.