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Wildfire now fourth-largest in Calif.

Yosemite National Park, Calif.

Wildfire now fourth-largest in Calif.

The wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park has become the fourth-largest conflagration in modern California history, fire officials said Sunday as clouds and higher humidity helped crews further contain the biggest blaze in the United States this year.

The Rim Fire moved up a spot on the state's list of large wildfires dating back to 1932 when it grew to 348 square miles — an area larger than the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose combined — on Saturday, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

Although the fire still is growing, it was 40 percent contained as of Sunday, up from 35 percent a day earlier.

Moister air was expected to slow flames from advancing through brush and trees, giving firefighters room to set backfires, dig containment lines and to strengthen lines around threatened communities, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Pam Baltimore said.

Full containment is not expected until Sept. 20.

The blaze started Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest and two-thirds of the land burned since then is located there as well. In Yosemite, 94 square miles have burned. The cause remains under investigation, Baltimore said.

Key West

Nyad makes steady progress toward Fla.

U.S. endurance simmer Diana Nyad's representatives said Sunday that she had covered about two-thirds of her route from Cuba to Florida.

Late Sunday night, her team tweeted that she was about 32 miles from Florida. Overall, the swim was expected to be about 100 miles if she completed it.

Her team posted on Facebook Sunday afternoon that she had "swum farther north than the farthest end point of any of her previous attempts."

The 64-year-old is trying to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. It's her fourth attempt in the last three years. If she's successful this time, she expects to take about 80 hours to reach the Florida Keys.

Afghanistan

6 boys killed while swimming in river

Six boys were killed on a swimming outing in northern Afghanistan, apparently the victims of fishermen who fired a rocket into a river, according to Afghan officials and relatives of the victims.

The suspects were identified as policemen, and six of them were arrested, including their commander, 1st Lt. Ahmed Farid, officials said.

The episode took place Saturday in Drumbak, in Baghlan province, when policemen on one side of the Larkhab River fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the water. But the round went astray and exploded among a group of children bathing on the opposite shore, about 50 yards away.

Six boys, ages 9 to 14, were killed instantly. Two other children, a boy and a girl, were wounded.

China

Another powerful official is investigated

A powerful Chinese government official who oversees state-owned companies is the latest senior Communist Party official to come under investigation in what appears to be a concerted effort by President Xi Jinping to consolidate his power and push his economic agenda.

Jiang Jiemin, 58, is a former head of China National Petroleum Co. who in March became head of the Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, a ministerial level position. A report released Sunday to the state media said he was under investigation for "disciplinary violations," code for corruption.

Jiang was a protege of the powerful former security czar, Zhou Yongkang. Zhou is reported to be under investigation as well.

Elsewhere

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Social Democratic rival, Peer Steinbruck, fought each other to a virtual draw in their sole TV debate of the German election campaign Sunday night. Merkel leads ahead of the Sept. 22 election.

Kane, Pa.: An SUV crossed into oncoming traffic on a rural northwestern Pennsylvania highway and smashed head-on into another vehicle, killing six people, including two children, authorities said Sunday.

Greenburgh, N.Y.: Four young people were killed on a highway north of New York City when their car drifted from the road, traveled 100 yards on a grassy shoulder then slammed into a bridge abutment and caught fire, police said.

Times wires

Wildfire now fourth-largest in Calif.

09/02/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 2, 2013 4:26am]

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