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Thick Rim Fire Smoke Crosses Into Tourist-Trafficked Yosemite Valley

Thick smoke from the Rim Fire blaze has begun drifting into the Yosemite Valley, a popular scenic destination for visitors to the Yosemite National Park.

More than 4,100 firefighters continue to battle the massive blaze that has consumed more than 235,000 acres since its start on Aug. 17.

The fire, now 80 percent contained, has resulted in poor air quality for many surrounding areas.

"Visitors to Yosemite should expect periods of smoky conditions, depending on winds and fire behavior," the National Park's Air Quality and Smoke Monitoring page read on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the fire grew a total of 1,700 acres as southwest transport winds pushed smoke into communities northeast of the fire, including Pinecrest, Bear Valley, Markleeville, Minden, Carson City and the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Skies cleared in Sonora, the Yosemite Valley, El Portal and the San Joaquin Valley.

Until the end of August, the Yosemite National Park stressed on social media that conditions remained clear in most heavily-trafficked areas. The Yosemite Valley had seen few effects of the fire until Aug. 31.

Through Friday, winds will gust to 20 mph in the valleys and as high as 30 mph in higher elevations, before easing over the weekend. Gusty winds may help to disperse the smoke, but they should not significantly affect the firefighting effort.

Monsoonal moisture will remain too far south and east to aid the extinguishing effort.

Approximately 4,500 structures remain threatened ahead of the fire on its east and west sides, and 11 structures have already been destroyed.

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