TODAY   |  August 24, 2013

Firefighters battle California blaze, and fatigue

As an enormous wildfire rages near Yosemite, more than 2000 men and women are on the line battling the flames. Fatigue is one of their biggest concerns, as resources are thin and the firefighters are “running on empty.” The rugged terrain affected by the blaze is so remote that the fight could take days, or weeks. Tom Costello reports.

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

>> the wildfire near yosemite , more people should consider getting out of harm's way as the fire consumes 125,000 acres. california's governor declaring a state of emergency in san francisco . that city, 150 miles away but could be affected. tom is live in groveland, california with the latest for us. good morning.

>> reporter: hi, erica, good morning. the reason san francisco could be affected is 85% of its water comes from a nearby reservoir here as well as the electrical system. because of that, the governor declared a state of emergency . firefighters are on the line because the fire moved into yosemite national park . their job is to protect the park and the people who live nearby. 3:00 a.m . on the fire line and this team from sacramento is doing battle with a wall or flames. determined to eat its way further into yosemite . the sacramento crew has been on the line for 14 hours already.

>> it's extreamly hard. you are tired. stress. it's hard to sleep.

>> reporter: the so-called fire in the national forest but spreading into a remote center of yosemite far from the tourist areas. highway 120 is closed. for now, fire commanders are hoping the deep valleys and the granite rock will keep it from going into the popular areas of yosemite .

>> it goes into the trees.

>> from the air, a highly choreographed helicopter directing the water drops on the exact spot to give fire crews a chance for a quick advantage.

>> the biggest challenge is the fire itself. it's making its own weather. it's unreal.

>> reporter: for the 2,000 men and women fighting the fire, the work is exhausting. at the base camp , the first hot meal in 24 hours . a much needed shower and shave and a few hours of sleep before the morning break.

>> everything you learned, you have to make sure you apply it correctly and you have to do that even when you are tired.

>> reporter: fire commanders meeting in colorado say fatigue is one of their biggest concerns.

>> we try to work a 24 hour shift on and a 24 hour shift off for recovery.

>> reporter: with more than a dozen fires burning, resources are thin, men and women running on empty . the hard, cold reality is this fight could take some time. the terrain is so rugged and so remote and there's so much fuel that the fight here in the national forest could take perhaps days or weeks. they are still worried about what's going on in yosemite . back