Rim Fire Leads to Evacuations For Bay Area Campers

So far no damage has been reported locally affiliated campgrounds, but there are several under evacuation orders

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park is hard to battle because of the steep terrain. It was only 5 percent contained as of Aug. 21, 2013. (Published Thursday, Aug 22, 2013)

    The Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park is continuing to spread, prompting the evacuation of thousands of people, including Bay Area campers.

    The fire has burned 53,866 acres in the Stanislaus National Forest since Saturday, and was only 2 percent contained as of this morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

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    The fire started about 7 miles from the San Jose Family Camp in the Groveland area, and 11 staff members and 99 students from Berkeley's Maybeck High School were evacuated on Monday, according to the city of San Jose, which runs the camp.

    They had arrived for a camp session the previous day and had been scheduled to stay there through Friday.

    After the evacuation order came in, they were taken to Crane Flat campground located near Yosemite then returned to Berkeley.

    The campers had to evacuate quickly, and San Jose city officials said any personal items that were left behind will be returned to the campers once the fire threat has passed. San Jose city staff working at the camp were also evacuated later Monday.

    There have been no reports of damage to camp facilities, but the evacuation order remained in place today. Staff members are notifying groups scheduled to arrive at the camp this month and into September that the facilities may be closed for the rest of the season because of the fire.

    The San Jose Management Association was among the groups that had reservations at the camp. Other camps in the area, including the city of Berkeley's Tuolumne Family Camp, located at 31585 Harden Flat Road near Groveland, were also evacuated. Berkeley officials posted on the city's website that the camp was evacuated Tuesday and that it will stay closed until Sunday.

    At that point, camp staff and city officials will determine if groups scheduled to visit the area next week and beyond will be allowed to come in.

    Those whose trips were canceled will be given refunds, city officials said.

    The San Francisco-based Jewish summer camp Camp Tawonga, also located near Groveland, was evacuated at about 6 p.m. Tuesday and has had to cancel programming, director Jamie Simon said. There were no campers at the site at that point but six staff members were evacuated safely, Simon said.

    No damage has been reported to any campgrounds or buildings, she said. Although student sessions had ended for the summer at Camp Towanga, weekend programs scheduled for the coming weeks have been canceled because of the fire, Simon said.

    San Francisco Recreation and Parks' Camp Mather, located at 35250 Mather Road near Groveland just east of Camp Tawonga, was evacuated on Tuesday. It was Senior Week at the camp, and there were 200 senior citizens and about 30 staff members there at the time, recreation and parks spokesman Elton Pon said.

    They arrived back in San Francisco Tuesday evening.

    The evacuees had started their camping trip on Sunday and were scheduled to be there until today, he said. Several other staff members, including the camp manager, stayed at the camp until Wednesday.

    Pon said he has not heard of any fire damage to Camp Mather. "We're in a wait-and-see mode. We're receiving reports from the incident command post, and so far it has not touched the camp," Pon said this afternoon.

    There are more than 2,500 structures threatened by the Rim Fire, according to the U.S. Forest Service. State Highway 120 leading in and out of Yosemite National Park has been closed. An evacuation order was issued for Pine Mountain Lake and other communities, with evacuation centers set up in Sonora and other nearby areas.