News

Wildfire expected to burn deeper into Yosemite

Wildfire expected to burn deeper into Yosemite

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

By Laila Kearney

(Reuters) – A wildfire raging in the northwest part of Yosemite National Park was expected to advance farther into the park on Tuesday and continue to threaten a reservoir that supplies most of San Francisco’s water.

The so-called Rim Fire has charred more than 160,000 acres, which is larger than Chicago, most of that in the Stanislaus National Forest west of Yosemite.

But the blaze was expected to move east overnight and push deeper into Yosemite, as well as in areas to the north, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Trevor Augustino.

On Monday the blaze “made a good run to the park,” Augustino said. But firefighters had the blaze 20 percent contained toward the end of the day, up from 15 percent earlier Monday.

The weather on Tuesday was expected to remain hot with temperatures in the high 80s Fahrenheit and low 90s Fahrenheit, with winds of 10 miles per hour to 15 miles per hour from the southwest, Augustino said.

The eastern flank of the fire on Monday burned to within a half mile of Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy reservoir on the Tuolumne River. It supplies 85 percent of the water consumed by 2.6 million people in San Francisco and several communities in three adjacent counties about 200 miles to the west.

With the flames so close, ash fell on the surface of the reservoir on Monday. But water samples from the supply were testing clean by the late afternoon, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokeswoman Suzanne Gautier said.

“There continues to be no change or impact to water quality or delivery from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir,” the utilities commission said in a statement.

If fallout from the blaze were to foul the Hetch Hetchy, its water could be diverted to a smaller Bay Area reservoir for filtration at a local treatment plant before delivery to customers, Gautier said.

The Rim Fire, named for a Stanislaus National Forest lookout point called Rim of the World, has already damaged two of the three hydropower generating stations linked to the Hetch Hetchy reservoir that supply electricity for all of San Francisco’s public facilities, such as hospitals and firehouses.

The city has drawn on reserve power stored for emergencies and purchasing additional electricity on the open market to make up for the difference.

The blaze has destroyed about a dozen homes, and some 4,500 dwellings remained threatened.

Most of the 1,200-square-mile Yosemite National Park has remained open to the public.

The cause of the wildfire remained under investigation. More than 3,700 firefighters have been assigned to the blaze.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Xavier Briand)

Recent Headlines

1 hour ago in Entertainment

Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o named ‘most beautiful’

Fresh
people

The actress was named as the world's most beautiful woman for 2014 by "People" magazine.

today in Entertainment

‘Peeps’ coming to a big screen in marshmallow movie

peeps

The film focuses on the sugary confections as they prepare to be judged at the annual Peeps diorama contest.

today in Music

Justin Bieber angers Asian community with visit to shrine

Justin Bieber

The Beebs apologizes for a visit to a controversial Tokyo shrine honoring WWII war criminals.

today in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: Brian Williams raps ‘Gin & Juice’

birna

After he leaves the "NBC Nightly News," Brian Williams might have a future in music.

today in Entertainment

‘Ice Road Truckers’ star accused of kidnapping, beating Vegas woman

iceroad

A star of the reality TV show is due in court in Las Vegas to face first degree kidnapping, extortion and coercion charges.