A forest fire approaches the border of Yosemite National Park on 23 August 2013. A sign reads 'Fire Restrictions'. Photo: Noah Berger / EPA / Landov

From Nick Valencia, Catherine E. Shoichet, and Phil Gast
25 August 2013

Yosemite National Park, California (CNN) – Susan Loesch and Curtis Evans just started settling into their second home in California's Sierra foothills a few months ago. Now, they're worried it could go up in smoke as a massive wildfire spreads.

"This is kind of a little paradise up here for us. … To think this would all be gone would be devastating," Evans told CNN Sunday.

Cradling their chihuahua, Cuervo, they prepared to leave the area on Sunday as more than 2,800 crew members struggled to corral the sprawling Rim Fire, which had devoured nearly 134,000 acres.

"It's scary," Loesch said. "You worry about the firefighters being on the line. ... It's overwhelming."

The wildfire, which remained 7% contained, was spreading primarily to the northeast and east and threatened to grow amid extremely dry conditions and hot weather.

A Cal Fire firefighter monitors the Rim Fire as it burns through a stand of trees on Sunday, 25 August 2013, near Groveland, California. The fire had consumed nearly 134,000 acres as of Sunday. Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / CNN

After days of battling the blaze, things were looking up on Sunday, said Vickie Wright, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.

"We're a long way from complete," she said, "but at least our boots on the ground are getting a better handle on it."

A top priority is stopping the fire from spreading further in Yosemite National Park.

"The park is a national treasure," she said, "so no matter what it takes, we're going to do everything in our power to protect that park."

While the Rim Fire had consumed 12,000 acres in the northwest section of the park by Saturday, so far it has had little or no direct impact on Yosemite Valley, a popular spot for tourists and home to many of the famous cliffs and waterfalls in the park.

About 4,500 structures, many of them vacation homes, were under threat, according to InciWeb, a federal website that collects information from agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Several helicopters and air tankers were aiding firefighting efforts.

The inferno threatened the Yosemite gateway communities of Groveland and Pine Mountain Lake just outside the Stanislaus National Forest. [more]

Official: Firefighters to protect Yosemite 'no matter what it takes'

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