The Rim Fire burns near Camp Mather, California. The fire has burned 160,980 acres on the northwest side of Yosemite National Park.
SAN FRANCISCO: Firefig-hters dwarfed by towering flames that lit up the night sky in California reported progress as they battled a wildfire near Yosemite National Park for a 10th day yesterday.
Although ash from the fire reached the reservoir that supplies San Francisco’s drinking water, crews said they were confident the reservoir’s infrastructure could be protected, local news reports said.
The so-called Rim Fire, the 13th largest in state history that closed the road into one of the country’s top tourist destinations, is now 20 percent contained, the Los Angeles Times reported, quoting Yosemite Fire Chief Kelly Martin. That was up from 7 percent on Sunday. The blaze has charred nearly 161,000 acres — including about 21,000 acres inside the park and destroyed at least 23 structures, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
Crews dropped flame retardants on vulnerable areas. The fire is also threatening two groves of giant sequoias and historical structures in the park.
The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the main source of fresh water for 2.6 million people living in the San Francisco Bay Area, is some 320km to the west.
The fire is being tackled by nearly 3,700 firefighters. Schools in several nearby areas remained closed on Monday.
Meanwhile, the park said in an update on its website, “most of Yosemite National Park is not affected by the fire and is relatively smoke-free. The northern part of the park... has some smoke. Conditions may change if winds shift.”
Highway 120, one of the main routes into Yosemite from the west, remained closed due to the fire. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for San Francisco due to the threat to its water and electricity.
Firefighting efforts got a boost when California received federal assistance over the weekend to help mobilise necessary resources. President Barack Obama spoke to California’s governor on Sunday and “expressed his gratitude for the brave men and women working tirelessly to combat this devastating fire,” the White House said.