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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid