Nightly News   |  August 25, 2013

Thousands of firefighters battle Calif. wildfire

In just one week the blaze has exploded to 135,000 acres and the smoke is affecting more than 200 square miles. NBC's Tom Costello reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. that raging while fire is growing in two directions now heading west and threatening homes forcing residents to vac wait and the winds tonight are not helping. gusts up to 30 mile an hour. the sow scald called rim fire is the largest in the country, less than 10% kapd. and it's producing dangerous weather patterns that can potentially trap some of the firefighters on ground. we're in california tonight.

>> reporter: hi. cal fire says 4,000 firefighters are now assigned to this fire. preposition strike teams here. we have another camera to show you yet another strike team that is comparing to defend this community as the afternoon winds now start to kick up. in northern california , the afternoon winds have returned and the small towns on the northern edge of this massive are on watch. if the fire in the canyon returns, this city would have mere minutes to get out. how big of a threat is this fire to this community and others?

>> it's a major threat. we expect a wind shift today and we've prepared for that. and that's why the firefighters are here.

>> do you think they could protect you?

>> reporter: two days ago air tankers kept the fire at bay and this man is confident they will do it again.

>> it's always a concern. always. you live by a forest, but we love it up here.

>> reporter: 2 you,000 firefighter have taken up defensive positions in and around this city. we found the crew 300 miles from their own home mapping out the neighborhood that they're watching over.

>> we've got to know where the hydrants are so we know how to get the best protection and get these people out of here as best we can.

>> reporter: in just one week a wildfire has exposed to 138,000 acres. it's now at more than 200 square miles and kicking up in the evening at at night as the winds pick up. in yosemite park today, tours have been enjoying the scenery. it's up set these vacation plans on a two-day visit with his wife.

>> i wanted to go, but i couldn't go.

>> reporter: while the park remains open, many tourists are concerned. the iconic trees are under close watch. but they insist they're not under any immediate threat. closer to the front lines, the anxiety is building. containment for this entire fire right now, only about 7%.