TODAY

TODAY   |  August 26, 2013

Massive wildfire nears California town

As firefighters continue to battle the blaze near Yosemite National Park, the town of Tuolumne City lies within striking distance, but some citizens are refusing to leave their homes. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>> near yosemite is growing more dangerous threatening the national park and nearby homes. tom costello is in california, good morning.

>> carl, good morning to you. this town is serving as a staging area , a base camp for thousands of firefighters assigned to this incident. firefighters inside yosemite who are watching the seqoias very closely but also firefighters here are holding the line.

>> reporter: deep into the night and early morning the battle to contain this massive wildfire is 24/7.

>> i think we're going to be able to hold this thing.

>> reporter: 200 square miles and growing, the stakes could not be higher should the fire jump the line on the west, this town sits directly in it's path. but the wright family isn't leaving confident in the air attack .

>> everything is packed up ready to go?

>> everything is ready to go.

>> reporter: bob baits is the l.a. city fire captain watching their house.

>> they have to stay here and shelter in place and we have to try to protect them as much as we can. it's a bigger challenge.

>> reporter: it's where firefighters are making a stand to protect this town of 1700 and others. from across california, engine crews are staging here. some of the residents are awe struck.

>> we have a serious situation going on here. they're going to be our heros.

>> reporter: just outside of town it's physical exertion. removering bone dry brush and cutting fire breaks. for the kids in these northern california communities the fire means more time-out of school but when your dad is on the fire line it's hard to enjoy the time off.

>> it's hard to sleep. i worry about him 24/7 because he's a firefighter and i don't want him to get hurt because he's been hurt before fighting fires and it's scary he is out there.

>> reporter: meanwhile, inside yosemite national park , not as many tourist with the smoke on the horizon, but the valley floor remains safe. while the trees are also safe, park rangers are clearing nearby brush and watering them down, just in case.

>>> park rangers also say that yosemite 's granite cliff walls, they should contain and deep the fire away from the tourist areas. but the fire is so hot the embers can travel a mile to mile and a half and spark other fires.