Yosemite blaze rages, San Francisco water and power utilities threatened

Firefighters work to prevent the Rim Fire from jumping Highway 120 near Buck Meadows, California, August 24, 2013. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
Firefighters work to prevent the Rim Fire from jumping Highway 120 near Buck Meadows, Calif. Credit: Reuters

One of largest fires in recent California history continued to roar inside Yosemite National Park and threatened facilities that supply water and power to the city of San Francisco.

As of Monday morning, hand crews backed by bulldozers and helicopters dropped water and flame retardant, containing around 15 percent of the blaze’s perimeter, more than double Sunday’s figure. It is one of the 20 largest wildfires in California history, according to Cal Fire.

Fire managers reported making headway in their 9-day-old battle to curtail flames roaring through dry brush and forests along the northwestern edge of Yosemite National Park, putting utilities that serve the city of San Francisco in danger.

The so-called Rim Fire has charred nearly 150,000 acres or 234 square miles — the size of the city of Chicago — since it erupted on Aug. 17, most of that in the Stanislaus National Forest west of Yosemite. It has forced the closure of the main park entrance road used by visitors from the San Francisco Bay area.

The National Park Service website is posting alerts for the Rim Fire.

By Sunday afternoon, some 15,000 acres within Yosemite had burned, prompting the evacuation of 74 campsites in the White Wolf area of the park, officials said.

The blaze also crept to within 2 miles of a key reservoir, the Hetch Hetchy, which is the source of 85 percent of San Francisco’s water supply, and authorities said they were concerned about ash contamination from the fire.

Hydropower facilities in the area that provide electricity to San Francisco, about 200 miles to the west, also have been threatened.

Two of three power stations that account for all of the city’s municipal electricity — for public hospitals, transit, City Hall and airport — have been shut down since last Monday. But the city has so far made up for the loss by purchasing supplemental power from the open market and using some of its reserves.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for San Francisco on Friday due to threats to the city’s water supply. He planned to visit the fire zone on Monday to meet with fire managers and firefighters.

The blaze has destroyed about a dozen homes and 1,000 outbuildings, and some 4,500 additional dwellings remained threatened. Residents in the tiny town of Tuolumne on the western edge of the park were evacuated, but evacuation orders have been lifted for the communities of Pine Mountain Lake and Buck Meadows.

The majority of the 1,200-square-mile Yosemite National Park, including the Yosemite Valley area famous for its towering rock formations, waterfalls, meadows and pine forests, remained open to the public.

The cause of the wildfire remained under investigation. More than 2,800 firefighters have been assigned to the blaze, which was burning over steep terrain through scrub, oak and pine, stoked by stiff winds, high temperatures and low humidity.

The blaze in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains was among the fastest-moving of some 50 large wildfires raging across the drought-parched U.S. West. The blazes have strained resources and prompted fire managers to open talks with Pentagon commanders and Canadian officials about possible reinforcements.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.