August 28, 2013 in Nation/World

In brief: Yosemite fire near Bay Area water supply

From Wire Reports
 

Groveland, Calif. – The largest wildfire in the United States continued its destructive march through the Sierra Nevada on Tuesday, pushing farther into Yosemite National Park and for the first time burning nearly to the edge of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the linchpin of the water supply for 2.6 million Bay Area residents.

Flames from the Rim fire – which reached 179,481 acres – also forced the closure of several miles of Yosemite’s famed Tioga Road on Tuesday. The fire advanced to within 300 yards of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir’s southern edges, and ash is accumulating on the water’s surface, said Harlan Kelly Jr., general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which owns the reservoir.

Still, Kelly said that water quality for Bay Area residents has not deteriorated. Even if the agency has to temporarily shut off Hetch Hetchy water, he said, it has a six-month supply in Bay Area reservoirs and in loans from neighboring water districts.

The fire, which began on Aug. 17, was 20 percent contained and had burned 31 homes and 80 other structures.

Gay couples line up for marriage licenses

Albuquerque, N.M. – Dozens of gay couples gathered at a plaza in New Mexico’s biggest city Tuesday to hear the words many once thought they would never hear: “With the power finally vested in me by the state of New Mexico, I now pronounce you married.”

The ceremony came just a few hours after the county clerk opened her door to a line of more than 100 people waiting to get same-sex marriage licenses following an Albuquerque judge’s declaration Monday that gay marriage is legal. Two other counties began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples last week, and two more said they planned to do the same.

Gay couples can now get married in about a dozen states after a series of court fights, ballot measures and legislative decisions provided new momentum to the movement in recent years. New Mexico’s law has long been unclear, but the floodgates were opened last week when the Dona Ana County clerk began issuing marriage licenses and a judge in Santa Fe ordered the county clerk there to do so. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Democratic Attorney General Gary King indicated they planned to do nothing to try to halt the practice


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