Nightly News   |  August 23, 2013

Firefighters struggle to contain fire near Yosemite National Park

The Rim Fire has already charred more than 106,000 acres and is growing every minute. More than 2000 firefighters are attempting to contain the out-of-control fire, but they’re losing ground. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>>> now to the war at home and the battle of wildfires. tonight the massive mobilization of equipment and manpower we have been witnessing across the west the last few weeks is on the move to california and what has become the country's most dangerous wildfire. officials say the blaze fought at the edge of yosemite has taken top priority having just exploded in size since our report last night. miguel almaguer is there and is surveying the damage for us.

>> reporter: good evening. the moonscape spreads for miles. so far 106,000 acres have been charred and the fire is growing larger and larger every minute. to put that in perspective the burn zone is three times the city of san francisco . today the blaze is moving in multiple directions. the inferno has already crept in to yosemite national park . for now have it remains 20 miles from yosemite valley one of the country's greatest treasures. a wall of flames, the rim fire is on the run in nearly inaccessible terrain. it shows no sign of slowing down. overnight, quadrupling in size, the inferno is now closing in on 165-square mig 165- square miles .

>> the biggest challenge is the weather itself. the 40,000 foot columns are unreal.

>> whipped by gusty canyon winds the california governor declared a state of emergency , opening the door for additional help.

>> we are reaching out. canada offered up five of their crews today.

>> reporter: more than 2,000 firefighters are here but they are losing ground. even the air attacks can't slow this blaze.

>> if you watch those trees spontaneously burst, not one, ten, 15 of them, it is pretty frightening.

>> reporter: we found strike team charlie, the tactical unit of 16 trying to defend their hometown. when conditions turn in firefighters' favor like the wind right now they are able to set backfires to make the blaze close in on itself to suffocate itself out. the work shift will last 36 hours and then a break where they will sleep in the dirt.

>> get pretty tired but you do what you have to do.

>> reporter: safety first, this is dangerous, even deadly work.

>> why didn't you put firefighters down there and i say why didn't you put your children down there. would you?

>> reporter: evacuations continue in towns near yosemite national park . 4500 homes are threatened. one campground is now being closed. in the iconic yosemite valley , 20 miles away , tourists enjoy views.

>> awesome.

>> gorgeous. we were coming to yosemite, no matter what happens.

>> reporter: still there are warning signs everywhere. mother nature 's beauty is threatened by her fury. tonight, fire officials tell us several communities are in immediate dang roarer. they are worried they will lose home. the blaze is 2% con tatained and cost $5 million to fight so far.