This weekend, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the San Francisco area because of growing concerns over the Yosemite National Park fire. The Rim Fire near Yosemite may begin to threaten some of California’s water and electrical sources near the coast at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, resulting from what Brown calls a “temporary interruption” in the supply. The reservoir system provides water to more than 2 million people in San Francisco and surrounding areas. Officials in San Francisco have been running water tests on a regular basis to ensure that the quality has not been compromised. 85 percent of the city’s water comes from the reservoir.
Most recently, it is also the famous sequoia groves in Yosemite that are at risk of being destroyed. The sequoia groves, says Yosemite Park spokesman Scott Gediman, “are incredibly important both for what they are and as symbols of the National Park System,” even more so than the other vegetation there because of their national value. The trees, which are some of the largest and oldest organisms on the planet, are found only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. In order to address the looming threat, officials have removed brush from the area and been utilizing sprinkler systems.
Daniel Berlant, spokesman for California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said on Saturday that the fire is burning “very actively,” traveling toward a great number of homes over the close of the weekend. Firefighters are dealing with strong wind conditions, the most recent of which have been around 15 miles per hour from the south west. The rim fire threatens not only water and electrical sources, but also a great deal of Californian homes. “Firefighters,” he affirmed, “are staging and are preparing to make a stand” if the fire were to eventually reach residences. “There is definitely concern.” Winds are expected to grow as high as 30-40 mph over the coming days.
Because of prominent dry fuels like brush, oaks, and pine, the Rim Fire will most certainly continue to grow rapidly in the coming days. The fire behavior is largely unpredictable, essentially acting on its own. To the west, the communities of Tuolumne City, Twain Harte, and Long Barn are threatened. The Hetch Hetchy Watershed is in the path of the fire to the east.
Humidity levels also continue to stay quite low, at an average of about 18 percent. No precipitation is predicted for the remainder of the weekend. Temperature highs will continue to stay in the mid to upper 80s.
Around 4,500 structures are currently threatened in the Rim Fire, with four already destroyed. The fire is continuing to move in an eastward direction, with firefighting made even more difficult as a result of the treacherous and steep landscape. In addition to firefighting on the ground, numerous aerial resources have employed, including MAFFS and VLAT DC-10 air tankers.
As of last night’s most recent update, the fire has grown to 129,620 acres and is at 7 percent containment. Its original cause is still being determined. It also still remains to be seen whether the fire will ultimately threaten and effect California’s water and electrical sources.
Written By: Chris Bacavis