Firefighters continued to make gains on the Donnell fire in the Stanislaus National Forest on Monday as more crews arrived and the weather cooperated. But officials warned the threat from the fire, which has consumed more than 28,000 acres, remains. And it could intensify with rising temperatures and potential thunderstorms later this week.
Monday morning, the fire remained about a half-mile from Kennedy Meadows, and firefighters were bolstering a containment from the Bennett Juniper - an historic, 80-foot tree believed to be thousands of years old - to Highway 108. Eight hundred firefighters were tackling the fire; they got some help on Sunday from a 747 that flew in to make massive drops of fire retardant.
The fire has destroyed dozens of cabins and other buildings since it broke out Aug. 1. While much of the Dardenelle Resort, including the main store and lodge, have been destroyed by the fire, some buildings and cabins remain. Authorities with the Stanislaus National Forest said representatives will be meeting with property owners one-on-one to discuss the rebuilding process.
National Weather Service forecasters warn that an inversion layer will return later this week, along with rising temperatures. That will complicate matters for firefighters, and could cause more smoky conditions in both the immediate fire area as well as in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
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The Donnell fire is one of a number of wildfires burning in California, several weeks before the traditional start of wildfire season.
The Ferguson fire, near and partially in Yosemite National Park, was 86 percent contained at more than 96,000 acres on Monday. Yosemite Valley, which has been closed since July 25, was set to reopen Tuesday morning to visitors. Full containment of that fire is expected Wednesday.