Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Rim fire footprint would encompass Valley’s 5 largest cities

The Rim fire is winding down, now 92% contained at a cost of more than $125 million. But it’s the physical size of the fire that continues to capture the imagination — what does 257,135 acres look like?

Mono Lake, on the east side of the Sierra, has a footprint of 45,000 acres. Lake Tahoe is about 122,000 acres. That’s not a bad comparison if you’ve seen those lakes.

Fellow reporters have resorted to all kinds of comparisons. I recently heard a network news anchor refer to it as a third the size of Rhode Island. Others compare it to the area of Los Angeles or San Francisco.

So this is my attempt at putting the San Joaquin Valley into this picture. I wondered if the fire footprint was big enough to encompass the Valley’s major cities, including Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, Modesto and Visalia.

Yes, they would all fit within that footprint.

Bakersfield had the largest physical footprint I found. It is 146.6 square miles, according to the U.S. Census. Fresno, which has a bigger population than Bakersfield, is only 112.3 square miles.

The Rim fire is 402 square miles. And any way you look at it, this is the third largest fire on record in California.


Tobie says:

Go no further than the City of Los Angeles in finding a compassion – it’s 400 Sq Miles in size. So the footprint of the devastation left by Rim fire would cover the all of LA California, the nations largest city in size – WoW. Feel better?

Mark Grossi says:

For accuracy, I’m adding these numbers. According to the U.S. Census, the city of Los Angeles is 469 square miles. The Rim fire is 402 square miles. Also, I found two cities geographically larger than Los Angeles. Phoenix is 516 square miles, and Houston is 599 square miles, according to the U.S. Census.

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