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Ear to the Ground

Yosemite Blaze Moves Toward San Francisco Utilities

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Posted on Aug 24, 2013
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A National Guard helicopter responds to the fire menacing Yosemite National Park and possibly San Francisco.

A wildfire burning out of control at the edge of Yosemite National Park is threatening power and water service to the city, prompting California Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

There were no reports of blackouts in the city, which sits about 200 miles west of the park. But the blaze has damaged the electrical infrastructure that serves the municipality, forcing the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to shut down power lines.

The fire has destroyed four homes and 12 outbuildings so far. It was only 2 percent contained as of Friday. Highway 120, one of four access routes to the park, has been temporarily closed. Roughly 4,500 homes are threatened. If nearby Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is damaged, up to 2.6 million customers would be affected.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Reuters at The Guardian:

The so-called Rim Fire, which started last week in the Stanislaus national forest, had blackened 11,000 acres (4,450 hectares) at the north-eastern corner of Yosemite as of Friday afternoon after exploding in size overnight, park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.

The blaze burning in the western Sierra Nevada mountains is now the fastest-moving of 50 large wildfires raging across the drought-parched US west that have strained resources and prompted fire managers to open talks with Pentagon commanders and Canadian officials about possible reinforcements.

The blaze, which has now charred a total of 165 square miles of forest land, mostly outside Yosemite, was about four miles west of Hetch Hetchy reservoir and some 20 miles from Yosemite Valley, the park’s main tourist centre, Cobb said.

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