Massive Wildfire Threatens Yosemite, San Fran's Water Supply

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 26 2013 3:59 PM

The Massive Wildfire Near Yosemite Is Now the Size Of Chicago

177649257
Trees burned by the Rim Fire stand on August 25, 2013 in Yosemite National Park, California

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Though fire crews have been working nonstop to fight the blaze, the massive wildfire near Yosemite National Park—which is currently threatening several towns, as well as San Francisco's power and water supply—seems nearly unstoppable at the moment.

As of this morning, officials says that the fire, which began August 17, has already burned up over 149,000 acres of land. To put things in perspective, that's about the size of Chicago. At least 3,600 firefighters are currently on the job, but at last count only 15 percent of the fire was said to be contained. State fire authorities are calling the Rim Fire the 13th largest fire in California's history, and it's clear that even with helicopters, special sprinkler systems, and firefighters being recruited from as far away as Florida, it will be no easy battle to put it out. Here's CBS News with a bit on how the fire became so big in the first place:

The blaze sweeping across steep, rugged river canyons quickly has become one of the biggest in California history, thanks in part to extremely dry conditions caused by a lack of snow and rainfall this year. Investigators are trying to determine how the fire started Aug. 17, days before lightning storms swept through the region and sparked other, smaller blazes.
Advertisement

Meanwhile, Yosemite National Park's historic giant sequoias, as well as the rest of the park, are in grave danger, according to the U.S. Forest Service. "It's the highest priority fire in the country right now because of its location, because Yosemite National Park is at risk. It's not just a national treasure, it's a world treasure," a spokesman, Dick Fleishman, told USA Today. If the blaze continues burning, it may eventually affect the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which is the source of San Francisco's drinking water from 150 miles away.

Jennifer Lai is an associate editor at Slate.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 29 2014 10:00 PM “Everything Must Change in Italy” An interview with Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 29 2014 1:52 PM Do Not Fear California’s New Affirmative Consent Law
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.