August 26th, 2013
11:56 AM ET

Massive California Fire Spreads

Crews are currently racing against time battling a mammoth blaze that's already consumed 144-thousand acres in northern California.

The "Rim Fire" is the size of Chicago and thousands of firefighters are frantically trying to get it under control.

Encroached in its western edge, the blaze has scorched the iconic Yosemite National Park.

“This massive wildfire has reshaped the lives  and landscape of the community. Each day it has been a challenge to keep it from growing,” reports CNN's Nick Valencia.

U.S. Forest Service’s PIO Vickie Wright says the power of the blaze was astounding and their main objective is “now structure protection, just making sure we keep everyone safe and that we protect that park at all costs."

Bucket drops of water from hovering aircraft is a crucial way firefighters are battling the blaze.

“Because of the steep terrain, parts of the fire are only accessible by air," Valencia says.

Firefighters are getting little rest between shifts on the front lines.

“This is probably one of the worst ones I've been on, if not one of the more extreme fires I've been on since 2001 when I started,” says firefighter Harold Cook.

Evacuee Susan Loesch waits for news about her vacation home in Groveland, an area just on the outskirts of the fire line.

"It was a little nerve-wracking when they came and knocked on my door, and then when we came up here yesterday morning it was very thick coming through the valley. And then it cleared so I thought maybe we were still okay so we're hoping,” she says.

The fire is not only impacting small communities near the blaze but also  San Francisco, more than 200 miles away.

Power generators, required for cable cars and street lights in the city, are threatened by the wild fire that shows no signs of stopping.

“And fire officials say they’ve made some progress,” Valencia reports, “but with just seven percent containment they’re really at the mercy of the extremely dry conditions fueling this fire.”

Follow along at CNN.com for developments.

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