Raging Fires May Contaminate San Fran Water Supply

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Firefighters are making progress in their battle against a massive wildfire near Yosemite National Park.
    
They say the blaze is now 20 percent contained, up from 7 percent Monday evening.

"We're starting to get a little bit of a handle on this thing," U.S. Forest Service firefighter Lee Bentley said. "It's been a real tiger. He's been going around trying to bite its own tail and it won't let go, but we'll get there."

Weather conditions, especially wind, continue to be a challenge for the thousands of firefighters battling the wildfire.

"This is definitely dry so this is pretty extreme fire behavior that we're encountering here," a local firefighter said.

Firefighters were hoping to advance on the flames Monday, but strong winds were threatening to push the blaze closer to nearby communities.

"Winds are increasing. Wind tends to drive fire so that is a concern," Bjorn Frederickson, U.S. Forest Service spokesman, said.

Those winds have created a phenomenon known as "crowning in which the fires spread along the tops of trees, moving even faster then it does along the ground.

It's already burned nearly 225 square miles and the U.S. Forest Service said about 4,500 hundred structures are threatened.

"Right now I am just trying to keep my kids calm and not letting them know too much what's going on up there -- and letting them know that our house is still there," Crystal Baker, an evacuee, said.

Teams are also working to protect a massive reservoir located inside Yosemite, which supplies 85 percent of San Francisco's water.

The threat of the cities water being polluted by ash has already cause California's governor to declare a state of emergency.

"It's still actively burning as we speak. It has affected our water and power system on the road outside the park," Michael Carlin, a San Francisco Public Utilities commission, said.

Officials say there's still no relief in sight. Heavy rains are predicted for much of the west this week, but not the area around Yosemite.


 

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