Past Fires Prevented Rim Fire from Being Even Worse

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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK-

More than a year after the Rim Fire began, 400 square miles remain blackened.

It took more than two months to contain the Rim Fire, which is the third-largest wildfire in California history. Yosemite Fire Chief Kelley Martin was in the thick of it.

In Martin's 30 years of experience, she had never seen the type of force that was behind the Rim Fire. Still, Martin says it could have been much worse.

"The fire either completely stopped or significantly slowed down and in some areas where it did burn through, it didn't burn at a very high intensity because fire has already been in there at least once," Martin said.

That is why the Evergreen Lodge was untouched by flames, but co-owner Lee Zimmerman says the fire came extremely close.

"Immediately south of the lodge, the fire came through very hot and burned right to the tree tops," Zimmerman said. "We were very lucky and (firefighters) did an amazing job and despite the fact that the fire came through right along our southern edge, we didn't lose a single tree on the property so we felt very fortunate."

Even though the Rim Fire is gone, danger of more fire remains. Tree roots smolder deep underground, and vegetation is dry from three years of drought.

Katie Hackett filed this report.