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United States Power

Wildfire Threatens Water and Power To San Francisco 159

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Retuers reports that firefighters are battling to gain control of a fast-moving wildfire raging on the edge of Yosemite National Park that is threatening power and water supplies to San Francisco, about 200 miles to the west. 'We are making progress but unfortunately the steep terrain definitely has posed a major challenge,' says Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 'Today we're continuing to see warm weather that could allow this fire to continue to grow very rapidly as it has over the last several days.' California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, warning that the fire had damaged the electrical infrastructure serving the city, and forced the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to shut down power lines. The blaze in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains is now the fastest-moving of 50 large wildfires raging across the drought-parched U.S. West that have strained resources and prompted fire managers to open talks with Pentagon commanders and Canadian officials about possible reinforcements. Firefighters have been hampered by a lack of moisture from the sky and on the ground. 'The wind today is going to be better for firefighting, but we are still dealing with bone dry grass and brush,' says Tina Rose, spokeswoman for the multi-agency incident command. 'This fire is very dynamic.'"
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Wildfire Threatens Water and Power To San Francisco

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  • This is not... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 24, 2013 @06:19PM (#44666099)

    This is not part of global warming.

  • Not to worry, (Score:4, Informative)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @06:42PM (#44666177) Journal

    Rain is in the forcast for the area, it should put out the fire just before the mud-slides start.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @07:37PM (#44666379)

    Am I the only one wondering how water in California can be threatened by fire?

    It's easier to push water than to pull it. So the pumping stations which are needed to push the water up hill are located at the bottom of the hill, and there is infrastructure in place along the rim (it's a rim fire) to supply power to those facilities. It's the same reason that electric power is currently at risk by the fire.

    Unfortunately, people who do not understand land management have been making rules about fire roads,controlled burns, and removal of scrub for the last number of decades, which means when a fire like this happens, it tends to be a multi-hundred-thousand acre conflagration.

  • Mod -5 incorrect (Score:5, Informative)

    by hoboroadie ( 1726896 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @07:50PM (#44666415)

    How about we be generous and say that poor land practices have exacerbated the benefits of this Anthropogenically-induced Drought. Climate change was not the only cause.

  • Re:Special water? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dbc ( 135354 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @08:56PM (#44666749)

    Well, first off, Hetch Hetchty never should have been built. That aside..,..

    The country around there is very rugged. Its hard to imagine without seeing it. The last two winters have seen 70% of normal snow-pack, so the area is very dry. Normal annual precipitation is 11 inches. There has been no rain since April or so, which is normal. I have a cabin 30 or so miles to the south. Not threatened by this fire, but the road to my place was a firebreak for the "Telegraph Fire" of a couple of years ago -- I had orange grass for a few days from fire retardant bombings.

    Here is the deal.... the country is so extremely rugged that you *do* *not* send fire crews anywhere near an active crown fire, it can jump them in minutes and you end up with 100 roasted fire fighters and a dozen burned up Cats. There are placed where if a rancher's cattle get down in a valley full of rocks, they can't get up, and you can't ride a horse down there anyway to bring them back up. Totally forget about driving a 4WD vehicle in there, you parked that back with the horse trailer because it couldn't go any further. Taking a Cat down those slopes is suicidal. So all the fire equipment comes in and out on fire roads, which are few, narrow, and very rough. There are placed I've wanted to see, but after 40 minutes of 20 MPH kindney-busting driving in a 4WD pick-up, I turned around. That is a fire road. That is your escape route. The *one* escape route. You don't go into the fire on those, you go outside the edge of the fire, start cool-burning back-fires and cut fire breaks, and call in fire-retardant tanker bombers.

    So... the powerlines to the Hetch Hetchy and the water pipeline out of it and down the foothills run through the threatened area. The fire can easily take out the power lines. I don't know about the aquaduct, but I suspect it is vulnerable also.

    I'm relieved this time that there are two major river canyons between my cabin and the fire. My sympathy goes out to those in the path of the fire -- it's gut-wrenching to have one get close.

  • Re:This is not... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cryacin ( 657549 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @08:57PM (#44666751)
    You are making far too much sense. Please promptly delete your slashdot account.

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