SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco firefighters who have spent the past nine days battling the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park are heading back to the Bay Area, fire officials said Friday.

The 22-person strike team, made up of volunteers from the department, was assigned to protecting structures in Tuolumne City for most of its deployment, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said in a statement.

“This was, no doubt, an exhausting assignment,” Hayes-White said. “I’m extremely proud of the men and women that quickly made adjustments to their personal schedules and chose to take on this very important task.”

The Rim Fire, currently ranked as California’s fifth-largest in recorded history, had consumed more than 200,000 acres as of this morning and was only 32 percent contained. The fire began in the Stanislaus National Forest on Aug. 17 and has spread into parts of Yosemite National Park.

Nearly 5,000 firefighters are working to fight the fire, which has forced the evacuation of numerous towns and camps in the area and destroyed more than 100 structures, according to recent reports.

In addition to the 22-person strike team, San Francisco also sent up a 4-person engine crew that continues to work on the Rim Fire as part of another strike team, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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