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Rim Fire Updates


The Forest Service has reported the Rim Fire began because of a hunter’s “escaped” illegal fire on August 17, 2013 in the Stanislaus National Forest.  The Rim Fire has burned 257,135 acres. The fire reached the edges of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir watershed, the source of 85% of the drinking water we provide our customers.

Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park Type III teams successfully took over the Rim Fire at 6:00 a.m. on September 27, 2013.

The fire is now 100% contained as of October 24, 2013.

Current Activities
SFPUC crews are beginning the process of restoration and recovery. Additional teams have been assigned to assist with expediting this effort.


  • There continues to be no impact to water quality or water delivery operations. Water sampling of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir was performed on August 30, September 5, and September 11. 
  • Throughout the entire Rim Fire event, the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System has continued to deliver high-quality water to our 2.6 million customers in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area. Critical improvements put in place through our $4.6 billion dollar Water System Improvement Program provided us a greater agility in the continued delivery of high-quality water.
  • Approximately 1% of total Hetch Hetchy Reservoir watershed was within the fire perimeter, and based on initial field assessments significantly less area has actually burned.  The northern watershed, where most of the annual inflow originates, was still outside the fire perimeter.
  • We still have contingency plans developed to meet our customer demands in the unlikely event that they are needed. The Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant can treat 145 million gallons of water per day, and Harry Tracy Water Treatment Plant can treat 140 million galls per day from local reservoirs in the East Bay and Peninsula. In addition, interties between East Bay Municipal Utility District and Santa Clara Valley Water District provide for additional backup supplies. 


  • Both Kirkwood and Holm Powerhouses and the associated transmission lines were taken offline on August 19 as a precaution and at the request of the Rim Fire Unified Command Post to assist with firefighting efforts. These facilities were directly impacted or damaged by the Rim Fire.
  • Crews restored service to Kirkwood Powerhouse over Labor Day Weekend.  Work on the Holm Powerhouse to repair a partially collapsed roof is complete. Repairs and tests will continue on the Holm Powerhouse over the next few weeks.
  • With both Kirkwood and Moccasin Powerhouses now generating and transmitting approximately 110 megawatts of power, the City is now supplying enough energy to meet all critical municipal services.  The remaining power, consistent with normal power operations of hydroelectric facilities, will be supplemented from the power bank and small purchases of energy on the open market.
  • Throughout the incident, there has been no interruption in service because the SFPUC has continued to produce power from a third Powerhouse, Moccasin, and to procure alternative energy from an existing power bank and the open energy market. Since August 19, the total estimated cost incurred to the City for using alternative sources of power is approximately $900,000. 
  • Some transmission poles and lines will need repairs. Roads and transmission lines continue to be cleared of hazards.


  • Today Standard & Poor’s determined that our SFPUC water revenue bond ratings are unaffected by the Rim Fire.
  • The SFPUC retains insurance policies that provide coverage to most of the mission critical assets upcountry affected by the Rim Fire. 
  • The policies are in addition to our other cost recovery alternatives, such as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and California Emergency Management Agency (Cal OES). 
  • Over the next month, collaboration for cost recovery efforts and claims preparation will continue between the SFPUC and the Offices of the City Administrator, Controller, and City Attorney.
  • Options are being considered to address any short term cash needs for the immediate recovery and restoration of power assets.


September 6, 2013

I want to take this opportunity update you as well as thank the nearly 5000 valiant firefighters who fought tirelessly to contain the Rim Fire. Their efforts have been exemplary in the face of one of California’s worst wildfires in recorded history.

This event weighed heavily on the staff of Hetch Hetchy Water and Power in Moccasin. Their courage and commitment in supporting the firefighting efforts and toward restoring services has been critical to our success. The desire to help is shared by all of our staff as everyone has done their part to ensure this effort has been fully supported.

I would also like to thank Mayor Lee and members of the Board of Supervisors that have been actively supporting the SFPUC and the overall firefighting efforts. I especially want to thank the Fire Department, Rec and Park, Office of Emergency Management, Mayor's Office, Public Health, MTA, City Administrator’s Office, and the Controller's Office.

This has been a challenging time for us all. We extend our thoughts and support to other community members who have lost homes, land, livestock, or long-loved vacation sites like Berkeley’s Tuolumne Family Camp.

While there is still a long way to go until this incident over, our collective efforts have paid off. We have kept our people safe, maintained power services for our customers, and our Hetch Hetchy water supply remains pristine.

As we continue to move forward, we are grateful for the collaboration of our local, state and federal partners in our common goal to ensure a successful, sustained recovery.


Harlan L. Kelly, Jr.
SFPUC General Manager



More Rim Fire Resources

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Last updated: 12/9/2014 3:50:31 PM