San Francisco, CA, United States (4E) – Some 2,700 firefighters are battling a huge wildfire in the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park Saturday as the blaze threatens 5,500 homes and San Francisco’s power and water supplies.
The so-called Rim Fire that began on Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest now covers 203 square miles and is 7 percent contained. It has consumed 12,000 acres in the northwest section of Yosemite National Park burning at least 23 structures.
Steep terrain made firefighting difficult, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant. Lack of moisture from the sky and on the ground is also hampering firefighters, said Tina Rose, spokeswoman for the multiagency incident command.
The fire is some 20 miles away from Yosemite Valley, the main tourist area, threatening communities of Groveland and Pine Mountain Lake just outside the Stanislaus Forest. The Yosemite entrance on U.S. Highway 120 West, one of three entrances to the west side of the park, was closed.
The damage to Yosemite has been minimal and all lodges and recreational activities remain open and accessible, according to the park’s website. There were about 4 million visitors to the park last year, the National Park Service said.
The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department, meanwhile, issued evacuation advisories for the town of Tuolumne and nearby Ponderosa Hill, CNN reported citing InciWeb.
In the path of the Rim Fire is the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to San Francisco, 150 miles away. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission shut down three main hydroelectric stations feeding off the reservoir prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for the city.