Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

August 24, 2013

San Francisco under state of emergency

FRESNO, Calif. — As a massive wildfire burning into Yosemite National Park grew to nearly 200 square miles, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the city of San Francisco 150 miles away because of the threat to the city’s utilities.

The governor had already declared an emergency for the area around the fire but Friday night extended it to San Francisco, saying the blaze posed a threat to the city’s power lines and stations in the fire area.

The city gets 85 percent of its water from the Yosemite-area Hetch Hetchy reservoir and, that has yet to be affected.

But San Francisco has been forced to shut down two of its three hydroelectric power stations in the area, and further disruptions or damage could have an effect on the power supply.

Smoke blowing across the Sierra into the state of Nevada forced officials in several counties to cancel outdoor school activities and issue health advisories, especially for people with respiratory problems.

Authorities urged more evacuations in nearby communities where thousands have already been forced out by flames.

The fire was threatening about 4,500 residences, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Already, the blaze has destroyed four homes and 12 outbuildings in several different areas. More than 2,000 firefighters were on the lines and one sustained a heat-related injury.

A mandatory evacuation order remained in effect for part of Pine Mountain Lake, a summer gated community a few miles from the fire.

“It feels a little bit like a war zone, with helicopters flying overhead, bombers dropping retardant and 10 engine companies stationed on our street,” said Ken Codeglia, a retired Pine Mountain Lake resident who decided to stay to protect his house with his own hoses and fire retardant system. “But if the fire gets very hot and firefighters evacuate, I will run with them.”

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