Wildfire Enters Yosemite National Park

Giant sequoias and drinking water at risk


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The wildfire blazing near Yosemite has entered the park and now threatens the power and water supply for millions in the San Francisco Bay area. As of Monday morning, the blaze is only 15 percent contained.

The fire has burned through 15,000 acres of land in Yosemite—though it has yet to enter the Yosemite Valley—and threats 4,500 nearby structures. Late Sunday, officials confirmed that the fire had burned through the Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp Site.

More than 3,400 firefighters are fighting the blaze from the ground and air, but inaccessible terrain, strong winds, and dry conditions have interfered with the fight.

Officials are monitoring the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which supplies water for 2.6 million people. Water quality remains good in San Francisco, but ash is falling like snowflakes on the reservoir, and the city’s hydroelectric power generated by the system has been interrupted.

The blaze also threatens California’s giant sequoias. “It’s really unthinkable to lose the sequoias,” Tom Medema of the National Park Service told CBS. “We celebrate those trees and we want to protect them. They’re one of the reasons people come to this place, to see them.”

Park employees are working to protect two groves by cutting brush and setting sprinklers. The trees can resist fire, but heavy brush and dry conditions are forcing officials to take extra precautions. About three dozen of the giant trees are affected.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: chensiyuan/Flickr