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August 28th, 2013
06:15 AM ET

'Rim Fire' Becomes 7th Largest in California History

 A massive wildfire raging in Northern California continues to burn out of control, becoming the seventh largest in the state’s history.

The Rim Fire has now grown to some 281 square miles - and has destroyed more than a hundred buildings, including some homes. Thousands more are threatened.

“Walking into the burning timber on the edge of Yosemite National Park, the loud crackling of burning trees and the crash of trees falling is unmistakable,” reports CNN’s Casey Wian.

Johnny Miller of Cal Fire says, "One of the biggest concerns is that obviously you see these large trees out here, so we have a lot of those trees that are dropping or falling in isolated areas, so our firefighters really have to be heads up when they're out there putting water on the fire."

In several hot-spots, there's no water in sight. Firefighters are dealing with conditions that make it apparent the fire will continue to burn for longer yet.

“It's not just fire, the smoke is so thick in areas surrounding Yosemite that visibility is reduced to less than 100 yards,” Wian says.

“The good news, most of Yosemite National Park, famous for breathtaking scenery that attracted nearly four million visitors last year, remains untouched by the fire.”

“The park is a large park it's 800,000 acres so we're in about 24,000 acres of it burned, so there is a large area of the park that is still accessible," Miller says.

But much of the main portion of the fire, which has spread to 180,000 acres, is not accessible by either vehicle or on foot. Firefighters are relying on aircraft dropping water and retardant to slow its spread in those areas.

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