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
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…