US crews battle huge wildfire in Yosemite area

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 8:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 8:52pm

A huge wildfire near Yosemite National Park in California was just seven per cent contained on Monday, while officials warned that the blaze was so hot that it could send sparks into new, untouched areas.

The fire near one of the country’s most popular national parks edged closer to a the source of San Francisco’s drinking water and to some of the giant sequoia trees that are among the largest and oldest living things on earth. They can resist fire but were being sprinkled for protection.

The fire has grown to become one of the biggest in California history, helped by inaccessible terrain, strong winds and bone-dry conditions.

Strong winds were threatening push the blaze closer to nearby communities.

“This fire has continued to pose every challenge that there can be on a fire,” said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire has consumed nearly 582.75 square kilometres of picturesque forests.

The extremely dry conditions have been caused by a lack of snow and rainfall this year. Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire.

The tourist mecca of Yosemite Valley remained open, clear of smoke and free from other signs of the fire that remained about 32 kilometres away.