A firefighter stands on top of a fire truck at a campground destroyed by the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. Crews working to contain one of California's largest-ever wildfires gained some ground Monday against the flames threatening San Francisco's water supply, several towns near Yosemite National Park and historic giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - As firefighters continue to battle a gigantic wildfire in and around Yosemite National Park, environmental scientists are already moving in looking to protect habitat and waterways ahead of the fall rainy season.
Members of the federal Burned Area Emergency Response team will begin hiking the rugged Sierra Nevada terrain this weekend to identify areas at the highest risk for erosion into streams, the Tuolumne (too-AH'-loo-mee) River and the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which provides San Francisco's famously pure water.
The wildfire now ranks as the third largest fire in California history, having burned 385 square miles of timber, meadows and sensitive wildlife habitat. It started Aug. 17 when a hunter's illegal fire swept out of control.
It has cost $81 million to fight the fire, and officials say it will cost tens of millions of dollars more to repair the environmental damage.