RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- In the 19 days the Rim Fire has been burning, it has destroyed about 370 square miles in the Stanislaus National Forest.
U.S. Forest Service Research Geologist Carl Skinner said the Rim Fire's size and intensity sets it apart, and part of the reason this fire is blazing through so much territory is because parts of the forest were still young after a more than 100 thousand acre fire scorched the same area in 1987.
"I would imagine that once this is done it would be up there with some of the more catastrophic fires we've ever seen," said University of Nevada assistant research professor Paul Verburg.
John Christopherson of the Nevada Division of Forestry said the area is changed forever.
"Typically it's not going to ever get back to what it was," Christopherson said. "What it was was a result of everything that had occurred during the life of that forest."
He said parts of that forest may be on their own to generate new life.
"I think obviously the scale dictates that not every acre is going to be treated," Christopherson said.
Because of that Christopherson said the forest service has to prioritize which areas are seeded or planted, a bigger challenge with limited funds.
"Most of the federal dollars this year are being used for fire suppression," he said.
But even without help from federal or local governments, Verburg said the forest will survive.
"I wouldn't be surprised that within one or two years you already start seeing patches of green within all the blackened landscape," he said.
But it will be much longer for the trees, especially the sequoias.
"Those scars are present for a long time," Christopherson said.
"It will take decades, if not centuries, in my guess for these forests to become really mature, [the] way they were before," Verburg said.
Verburg said both the forest and the people who manage it will likely change in the process.
"The forest that you will see after this event probably will not be the same because I think people will take a lot more active roll in managing these forests to keep these catastrophes from happening again," he said.
Verburg compared the Rim Fire to the Angora Fire that burned near South Lake Tahoe in 2007. He said not enough fire mitigation was done in the areas because they're populated and the procedures - especially controlled burns - would've been a nuisance. He hopes that this fire will prevent that kind of thinking in the future.