News / USA

California Wildfire Heads Deeper into Yosemite

  • A Hotshot fire crew member rests near a controlled burn operation at Horseshoe Meadows, as crews continue to fight the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California, Sept. 4, 2013. (U.S. Forest Service, Mike McMillan)
  • Crews clear California Highway 120 of debris, as crews continue to fight the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California, Sept. 4, 2013. (U.S. Forest Service, Mike McMillan)
  • A member of the Monterey Hotshots carries a gas can near a burn operation on the southern flank of the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California, August 30, 2013. (U.S. Forest Service)
  • A member of the BLM Silver State Hotshot crew using a drip torch to set back fires on the southern flank of the Rim Fire in California, August 30, 2013. (U.S. Forest Service)
  • A member of the Bureau of Land Management Silver State Hotshot crew from Elko, Nevada, walks through a burn operation on the southern flank of the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California, August 30, 2013. (U.S. Forest Service, Mike McMillan)
  • Firefighter Russell Mitchell monitors a back burn during the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, California, August 27, 2013.
  • A videographer records the Rim Fire burning through trees near Yosemite National Park, California, August 27, 2013.
  • A firefighter stands on top of a fire truck at a campground destroyed by the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, California, August 26, 2013.
  • A fire truck drives past burning trees as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, California, August 26, 2013.
  • This photo released by NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg shows a view of the California wildfires from the International Space Station, August 26, 2013.
  • A helicopter reloads fire retardant as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire in Tuolumne City, California, August 26, 2013.
  • Los Angeles County firefighters walk past two Bombardier CL-415 Super Scooper firefighting planes parked at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles, California, August 26, 2013.
  • Firefighter A.J. Tevis watches the flames of the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, California, August 25, 2013.
Firefighter Russell Mitchell monitors a back burn during the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, California, Aug. 27, 2013.
Reuters
Yosemite National Park, faced with the spread of a massive California wildfire, closed a second key route into the park on Wednesday that could keep some visitors from reaching one of the nation's top outdoor destinations over the Labor Day weekend.
 
The shutdown of Tioga Road comes as the so-called Rim Fire, which has now scorched an area larger than the land mass of Chicago, was burning deeper into the park and headed toward the tourist hub of Yosemite Valley.
 
The blaze, which stands as the sixth largest on record in state history, on Tuesday reached a reservoir that serves as the primary water supply for San Francisco, some 200 miles (320 km) to the west.
 
Crews were attacking the eastern flank of the fire as it spread toward Yosemite Valley as well as the western edge, where some 4,500 homes in a string of small communities stood in the path of the flames, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Dennis Matheson said.
 
He said that treacherous, often inaccessible terrain was largely preventing firefighters from cutting new lines around the blaze and estimated it would take another week to fully contain it.
 
“I think it's very safe to say that we're looking at least at the first week of September,” Matheson said. “A lot of it is footwork, creating containment lines by hand.”
 
Of the 187,500 acres (over 75,800 hectares) already blackened by the Rim Fire, more than 43,000 acres had burned inside Yosemite, up 3,000 from Tuesday, according to fire officials. Containment lines have been established around 23 percent of the fire's perimeter.
 
The flames last week forced the closure of a stretch of Highway 120 that leads to the west side of the 750,000-acre (300,000-hectare) park and is the main entrance from the San Francisco Bay area.
 
Tioga Road, the second of the four access routes into the park, was closed to allow fire crews to build containment lines along the road before the blaze approaches, said Yosemite spokesman Tom Medema.
 
“That will limit the access for visitors to and from the east side of the park, quite possibly over Labor Day weekend, which will have a significant economic impact on the area and (be) an inconvenience for visitors,” he said.
 
Some 4 million people visit Yosemite each year, most of them during the peak months of June through August.
 
'Erratic Fire Behavior'
 
The blaze, the biggest California wildfire since October 2007, is being fought by a force of some 4,100 personnel, backed by teams of bulldozers and water-dropping helicopters.
 
Firefighters plan to burn containment lines from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the remote northwestern section of the park south to Tioga Road to stop the fire from moving further east into the park, Medema said.
 
By Wednesday afternoon, any remaining campers from the Yosemite Creek Campground and Tamarack Flat Campgrounds will be evacuated, he said. The park also closed the Crane Flat Campground.
 
The blaze has been among the fastest-moving of dozens of large wildfires raging across the drought-parched U.S. West that have strained national firefighting resources.
 
Cooler temperatures, higher humidity and calmer winds had been expected to help the firefighting effort Tuesday night, said Alison Hesterly, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
 
Later on Wednesday, temperatures were expected to be hot and dry, hitting a maximum of 94 Fahrenheit (34 Celsius) in the area with a minimum of 15 percent humidity, she said.
 
“If we reach the maximum temperature and the minimum humidity, we're expecting continued erratic fire behavior,” she added.
 
After advancing on the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir for several days, flames got close to the artificial lake on Tuesday. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said there was little risk to the reservoir because of the rocky terrain and lack of brush surrounding it.
 
Officials said ash had drifted onto the surface of the reservoir, but testing of samples showed water quality remained healthy. If the water should become fouled by too much ash and soot and require filtration, it can be diverted through a treatment plant near San Francisco before being delivered to customers, officials from the commission said.
 
Most of the homes in the path of the fire have been ordered evacuated or were under advisories urging residents to leave voluntarily or be ready to flee at a moment's notice. The fire has already destroyed dozens of homes and cabins, but no serious injuries have been reported.
 
The cause of the blaze remained under investigation.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More