Red flag warning today: Southwest wind may bring more smoke to Valley |

Red flag warning today: Southwest wind may bring more smoke to Valley

The Rim fire continued to pump smoke into the area on Sept. 3, 2013.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

As if the air weren’t thick enough, Thursday carries the prospect of high winds from the southwest blowing more smoke into Carson Valley.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for 12 hours starting 11 a.m. today for critical fire weather.

Winds out of the southwest are forecast to blow 15-25 mph, gusting to 45 mph in wind prone areas, and up to 65 mph over the ridgetops.

Combined with 12-17 percent humidity and tinder-dry conditions, any open spark could ignite a wildfire.

Air quality in Carson Valley has hovered in the unhealthy range through this morning, with the monitor at Ranchos Aspen between 169 and 183. Early morning levels climbed to above 200 into the very unhealthy range.

Firefighters working the 237,341-acre Rim fire in western Yosemite National Park are racing to get lines constructed around the fire before the wind drives it to even greater proportions.

They’ve constructed line around four-fifths of the fire, but the remaining 20 percent is seeing active burning late into the night.

The fire is burning actively on the southeast front. As of this morning, it was within seven miles of Yosemite Valley and had crossed Tioga Pass Road in places.

Firefighters are conducting burnouts to reduce the chance the fire will threaten Yosemite Valley.

But the northeastern front is of more concern, with strong winds out of the southwest increasing the potential for long-range spotting, and possibly driving the fire closer to Highway 108 and Long Barn.

Fire officials consider the northern and western fronts of the fire contained as more than 4,100 firefighters continue to battle the blaze.

The cost of the fire is estimated at $77 million. Five firefighters have been injured. Eleven homes have been destroyed along with 97 outbuildings and three commercial properties.

Tioga Pass Road is closed 1.5 miles east of White Wolf. The Tioga Pass entrance to the park remains open.