A crew puts out a spot fire that jumped a fire line in
Yosemite National Park. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
A wildfire raging at the edge of Yosemite National Park
is threatening power lines that provide electricity to San
Francisco, prompting California Governor Jerry Brown to declare
a state of emergency.
The fire has damaged the electrical infrastructure serving
the city, and forced the San Francisco Public Utilities
Commission to shut down power lines, the governor said in his
There were no reports of blackouts in the city, which is
about 320km west of the park.
The wildfire swept further into Yosemite National Park on
Friday, remaining largely unchecked as it threatened one of
the country's major tourist destinations.
The so-called Rim Fire, which started last week in the
Stanislaus National Forest, had blackened 11,000 acres (4,450
hectares) at the northeastern 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 U.S. West that have strained resources
and prompted fire managers to open talks with Pentagon
commanders and Canadian officials about possible
The park has been posting updates and alerts on its website.
The blaze, which has now charred a total of 165 square miles
of forest land, mostly outside of Yosemite, was about 4 miles
west of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and some 20 miles from
Yosemite Valley, the park's main tourist center, Cobb said.
The reservoir provides water to 2.6 million customers in the
San Francisco area. Should the blaze affect the reservoir,
the city's water supply could be affected, Brown said in his
The Rim Fire, named for a Stanislaus National Forest lookout
point called Rim of the World, has so far destroyed four
homes and 12 outbuildings and was only 2 percent contained as
Highway 120, one of four access routes to a park known for
its waterfalls, giant sequoia groves and other scenic
wonders, was temporarily closed. The highway leads to the
west side of the 750,000-acre (300,000-hectare) park.
Located 195 miles from San Francisco and 315 miles from Los
Angeles, Yosemite attracted nearly 4 million visitors last
The fire was also threatening 4,500 homes, up from 2,500 on
Thursday, and an undisclosed number of homes were ordered
evacuated on Friday, adding to earlier evacuations.
IDAHO SKI RESORT BATTLES BLAZE
In Idaho, meanwhile, crews increasingly had the upper hand
over a massive blaze near the ski resort town of Sun Valley,
as a storm system predicted to bring lightning and high winds
brought rain instead.
The so-called Beaver Creek fire, now 67 percent contained, at
its peak forced out occupants of 2,250 houses in upscale
neighborhoods outside Sun Valley and destroyed one home and
seven other buildings in a resort area in central Idaho where
land and properties are valued at up to $8 billion.
The 2013 fire season has already drained U.S. Forest Service
fire suppression and emergency funds, causing the agency to
redirect $600 million meant for other projects like
campground and trail maintenance and thinning of trees to
reduce wildfire risks, said agency spokesman Mike Ferris.
The service has spent some $967 million to protect lives and
properties amid a season that has seen fires in Idaho, Utah,
Colorado and California threaten homes and communities that
border forest and wild lands where fire is more dangerous and
costly to fight, Ferris said.
With hotshots and other elite fire crews stretched thin, U.S.
fire managers will decide in coming days whether to seek U.S.
military or international aid to check the roughly 50 large
fires burning in the West.