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Yosemite Fire Threatens San Francisco

  • VOA News

The Rim Fire burns in the background near the border of Yosemite National Park, California, Aug. 23, 2013.

The Rim Fire burns in the background near the border of Yosemite National Park, California, Aug. 23, 2013.

A wildfire at the edge of California's Yosemite National Park in the western U.S. is threatening the power lines that provide electricity to San Francisco, prompting Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for the city.

Brown issued the declaration Friday as the so-called Rim Fire blazed about 300 kilometers away from the city.

Some power lines have been shut down after the fire damaged the electrical infrastructure serving San Francisco, but there have been no reports of power outages.

Yosemite is known for its waterfalls, huge rock formations, giant trees and other scenic wonders.

The emergency declaration frees funding and resources to help San Francisco, and makes it eligible for federal funds to help with utility shortages.

The blaze is one of 50 wildfires raging across the drought-parched western U.S., straining resources.

Thousands of firefighters are battling the wildfires.

The Rim Fire spread into Yosemite, one of the major U.S. tourist destinations, on Friday. It began last week in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The fire is currently about 6 kilometers from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which provides water to the San Francisco area. If the blaze moves to the reservoir, the city's water supply could be affected.

Authorities say thousands of people have been forced from their homes since the fire began. Officials are expected to order evacuations in more communities as the fires spreads.

The National Park Service says most of Yosemite has not been affected by the fire and remains "relatively smoke-free." The service warns, however, that conditions could change, if the winds shift.
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