The out-of-control conflagration near Yosemite National Park that has been dubbed the Rim Fire was quite a distance from San Francisco Wednesday, but by then it already had a surprising impact on power and water operations for the city.
San Francisco's Kevin Waller counts on a steady flow of fresh water to keep his clay studio, The Clay Underground, running.
“It's very important because clay needs water in order to throw and be able to hand build and stuff like that,” said Waller.
Keeping the water clean and flowing is also a major concern for San Francisco Public Utilities officials, which is why they were monitoring the Rim Fire’s impact on the Hetch Hetchy power and water supply Wednesday.
The Hetch Hetchy system provides 85 percent of the Bay Area's water to 2.6 million residents, and though most of the pipelines are underground, a big concern is ash from the wildfire floating into the reservoir.
“What we would have to do is start filtering our water, which we have filter plants. So we'll have to filter Hetchy water, which we typically don't do,” said Harlan Kelly, general manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
On Monday, the utilities commission de-energized transmission lines from two of three hydroelectric plants.
The buildings weren't in the fire's path but the power lines were, and firefighters told KTVU that officials were concerned that soot and smoke on the lines could cause arcing.
It's meant a temporary loss of 110 megawatts energy used to power buses, city hall, street lamps and the airport.
The city was paying PG&E $25,000 a day to help make up the difference.
“Currently, we're visually inspecting the lines. And hopefully we can bring them back up to service soon,” said Kelly.
As of Wednesday, Hetch Hetchy water was not being used to fight the fire and PUC officials said that the drinking water supply was not in danger, though they continue to monitor the fire's path that night.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.