The massive wildfire burning in California's Sierra Nevada is nowhere near under control and is inching closer and closer to the reservoir that supplies most of San Francisco's drinking water.
The fire, dubbed the Rim Fire, is now spread across 225 square miles and is only seven percent contained. That's "bigger than Chicago," according to NBC's Bay Area affiliate. The fire is "one of the biggest in California history," says CBS San Francisco.
A primary concern for emergency crews, aside from saving lives, is keeping the fire away from the power and water infrastructure that supports the city of San Francisco, roughly 150 miles away. "At the Hetch Hetchy entrance to Yosemite National Park, a trademark stone-and-clapboard ranger station was still standing," the Los Angeles Times reports. "But felled and blackened trees went right to the edge of the station, where rangers would usually be checking in backpackers." San Francisco officials have shut down two of three hydroelectric power stations at Hetch Hetchy, but are assuring city residents the quality of their water is so far unaffected.
The fire, which began last Saturday, was still raging nine days later as emergency crews worked frantically to try and contain the blaze and perhaps save some of the communities and the parts of Yosemite National Park still sitting in its path. On Friday, Gov. Gerry Brown declared the city and county of San Francisco under a state of emergency. Part of the problem keeping firefighters from containing the blaze is its sheer size and power. "The fire came boiling out, just cooking," Lee Bentley, spokesman with the U.S. Forest Service, told the L.A. Times. "It was so hot it created its own weather. It was like dropping a boulder in a pond; fire spread out in every direction." Strong winds are still thwarting firefighters attempts to contain the fire from spearing through Tuolumne County.
Nearly 2,800 firefighters are still working to protect the 5,500 homes threatened by the fire, spread across the state of California. Some evacuated residents were permitted to return to their homes on Sunday, though officials warned they could be told to leave again at a moment's notice.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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