The Rim fire, which has scorched more than 125,000 acres and spread into Yosemite National Park, should pose less of a threat to the power supply of San Francisco as firefighting efforts continue through the weekend, officials said.
The fire, which is only 5% contained, destroyed nine structures and is threatening 4,500 more, according to a recent update by the U.S. Forest Service.
On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown extended a state of emergency to include the city and county of San Francisco because of the threat to utilities — which caused damage to the electrical infrastructure serving the city and county of San Francisco.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission was forced to shut down two of its three hydroelectric power stations because of the fire and shut down transmission lines that bring power to the San Francisco area.
Firefighters have since controlled the area, allowing crews from the utility commission to enter the facilities on Saturday. The crews will assess the extent of the damage and “determine what is needed to get the power stations running again,” said Michael Carlin, a deputy general manager with the commission.
There is no timeline for when the power stations will be restored, he said. The third power station has been unaffected by the fire and is not currently under threat, Carlin said.
The commission has purchased power on the open market and has seen only a slight dip in production as a result of the fire, he said.
Officials are also monitoring the quality of water from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, only a few miles from the fire. San Francisco receives about 85% of its water from the reservoir.
Because it is underground and not flammable, officials said the water supply is not under threat from the fire itself — but instead from falling ash, Carlin said. As of Saturday morning, no changes of water quality have been detected, officials said.
“We have seen no change in the water. It’s the same as before the fire,” Carlin said.