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National digest: Wildfire threatens San Francisco water supply

A firefighter stands on top of a fire truck at a campground destroyed by the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. (Jae C. Hong/AP)
Raging fire threatens
San Francisco water

One of the largest California wildfires in decades roared largely unchecked for a 10th day through forests in and around Yosemite National Park, moving perilously closer Monday to a reservoir that provides most of San Francisco’s water supply.

Containment of the Rim Fire more than doubled to 15 percent, although it was within a mile of the park’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, officials said Monday.

San Francisco authorities were scrambling to fill reservoirs with water from Hetch Hetchy before ash taints supplies, said Harlan Kelly Jr., general manager of the city’s Public Utilities Commission. Ash from the 234-square-mile fire has been falling on the reservoir, but so far hasn’t sunk far enough into the lake to reach intake pumps, Kelly said. Water quality remained good Monday.

San Francisco gets 85 percent of its water from Hetch Hetchy as well as power for municipal buildings, the international airport and San Francisco General Hospital. The fire has already damaged two of the three hydropower generating stations linked to the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. The threat to the city’s utilities prompted Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to declare a state of emergency for San Francisco.

— From news services

Subpoena challenge
by reporter opposed

Federal prosecutors urged an appeals court Monday to reject New York Times reporter James Risen’s latest bid to avoid testifying in a federal leak case, arguing that Risen was a witness to a crime and enjoyed no reporter’s privilege to protect his confidential sources.

In a filing Monday, prosecutors argued there was no reason for the entire Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to review an earlier decision by a three-judge panel compelling Risen to testify

. The panel had ruled that Risen, whose book is at the center of a criminal leak case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, could not invoke a reporter’s privilege and refuse to testify at Sterling’s trial.

Sterling, who is charged with 10 felony counts, was accused of being a source for Risen’s book.

In addition to appealing the panel’s earlier ruling, Risen had asked the Justice Department to withdraw his subpoena because of the department’s new guidelines about when to seek reporters’ testimony.

— Matt Zapotosky

12 held in crackdown on dogfighting: An investigation into organized dogfighting and gambling in the Southeast resulted in 12 arrests and the seizure of 367 pits bulls in one of the nation’s largest crackdowns on the bloody exhibitions. The arrests stemmed from raids Friday in Alabama and Georgia and the seizure of more than $500,000 in cash that investigators believe was tied to illegal gambling on dogfights.

Chicago students go to school under heavy security: Thousands of Chicago children whose schools were closed in the spring walked to new ones on the first day of school Monday with the protection of under the watchful eye of police officers and newly hired as the students crossed unfamiliar streets — many of them gang boundaries. No trouble was reported, police said.

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— From news services

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