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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Photogallery UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid