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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: california wildfires

California Wildfire Now Second-Worst In State History

Greenville (United States) (AFP) - The monstrous Dixie Fire in northern California has grown to become the second-largest wildfire in state history, authorities said Sunday, with three people reported missing and thousands fleeing the advancing flames.

As of Sunday, the fire had destroyed 463,477 acres (187,562 hectares), up from the previous day's 447,723 acres. It now covers an area larger than Los Angeles.

The Dixie blaze is the largest active wildfire in the United States, but only one of 11 major wildfires in California.

Over the weekend, it surpassed the 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire to make it the second-worst fire in state history.

On Saturday, Governor Gavin Newsom visited the burnt-out historic town of Greenville, expressing his "deep gratitude" to the teams fighting the flames.

He said authorities had to devote more resources to managing forests and preventing fires.

But he added that "the dries are getting a lot drier, it is hotter than it has ever been... we need to acknowledge just straight up these are climate-induced wildfires."

Climate change amplifies droughts which dry out regions, creating ideal conditions for wildfires to spread out-of-control and inflict unprecedented material and environmental damage.

The Dixie blaze, which on Saturday left three firefighters injured, remained 21 percent contained Sunday, unchanged from the day before, the CalFire website reported.

Crews estimate the fire, which began July 13, will not finally be extinguished for two weeks.

Higher Temperatures Forecast

Weak winds and higher humidity have provided some succor to firefighters, but they are bracing for higher temperatures expected to exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) in the coming days.

Heavy smoke was making driving hazardous for fire crews in some areas, and steep trails also made access difficult.

The state's eight largest wildfires have all come since December 2017. The still-blackened scars of previous fires have aided Dixie Fire crews at times, reducing available fuel.

Thousands of residents have fled the area, many finding temporary housing -- even living in tents, and often unsure whether their homes have survived.

The Plumas County sheriff's office said it was still searching for three people listed as missing, after two others were found over the weekend.

The Dixie Fire has already destroyed about 400 structures -- gutting Greenville -- and CalFire said workers and equipment were being deployed to save homes in the small town of Crescent Mills, three miles (five kilometers) southeast of Greenville.

More than 5,000 personnel are now battling the Dixie blaze.

Despite repeated evacuation orders from the authorities, some residents have refused to flee, preferring to try to fight the fire on their own rather than leave their property.

By late July, the number of acres burned in California was up more than 250 percent from 2020 -- itself the worst year of wildfires in the state's modern history.

A long-term drought that scientists say is driven by climate change has left much of the western United States and Canada parched -- and vulnerable to explosive and highly destructive fires.

A preliminary investigation has suggested the Dixie Fire was started when a tree fell on a power cable owned by regional utility Pacific Gas & Company (PG&E), a private operator that was earlier blamed for the Camp Fire in 2018, which killed 86 people.

Disdain For Science — Trump’s And Ours — Is Literally Drowning Us

Hurricane Sally has just pummeled the Florida Panhandle and the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama. Though it landed as "only" a Category 2, what made it disastrous was its slow crawl, drowning Gulf of Mexico communities in Book of Genesis-type flooding. Hurricanes these days have slowed down, science says, as temperatures warm.

Science also says that climate change helps feed the fiery apocalypse now tormenting California, Oregon and Washington. Asked about this when visiting the region, President Donald Trump responded, "I don't think science knows."

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Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

California Inferno Means Climate Crisis Is Happening Now

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

Two weeks ago, after freak lightning strikes torched Northern California but before the inferno of Labor Day weekend had begun, a friend called to talk, like you do when the world is turning to crap and nothing is stable or makes sense. In the past six months she'd fled New York for rural West Marin (due to the pandemic), and West Marin for San Francisco (due to smoke). Now she was planning to leave San Francisco for Los Angeles, as the gross air had descended here. We joked, as I'd joked with every friend this summer, that we should all just drop out and start a commune on a lake in Maine. “Every commune needs lesbians!" she said. “I'll be our lesbian! California is going to become unlivable!"

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Danziger: Hot Head

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Thousands Evacuated As California Wildfires Sweep On

By Emmett Berg

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Sunday in Northern California areas hit by a fast-expanding wildfire that injured four firefighters and forced thousands of people to evacuate small towns near wine country.

The firefighters were hospitalized with second-degree burns after they were dropped off by helicopter to build containment lines against the so-called Valley Fire, which broke out on Saturday in Lake County, north of San Francisco and then spread quickly in hot weather and drought conditions.

A school, blocks of homes and an apartment building, and businesses were destroyed in the small town of Middletown, according to local media. Fire officials were not able to confirm the number of structures burned.

The Valley Fire, with 1,000 personnel assigned to fight it, is the latest in a string of large and destructive wildfires that have ripped through drought-stricken brush and forest on the West Coast over the summer.

Firefighters were battling 13 active fires in California including the 40,000-acre Valley Fire, which was zero percent contained and the 65,215-acre Butte Fire, which was 20 percent contained on Sunday.

MANDATORY EVACUATION

An evacuee from Kelseyville – a town that is partly in the path of the Valley Fire – told Reuters that Middletown and a nearby community called Cobb were “gone” and that there were explosions at a gas station. Fire officials said they could not confirm that information.

Chad Greenwood, a 44-year-old travel agent, said he grabbed his two dogs and one suitcase with important documents after sheriff’s officers gave him and other residents just an hour to leave.

“Where I live the smoke smell was really bad. It was so dark it looked like it was 8:30 at night, at 7:00 o’clock in the morning,” Greenwood said by phone.

The UC Davis Medical Center, where the injured firefighters were airlifted, declined to comment on the condition of the firefighters.

Governor Brown previously declared an emergency in rural Amador and Calaveras counties, where the Butte Fire began on Wednesday and has destroyed 86 homes and also forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Some 3,500 more people were evacuated on Friday from the path of the flames from a larger blaze, dubbed the Rough Fire, which is burning in Kings Canyon National Park in central California.

(Additional reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas, and Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Writing by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Greg Mahlich and William Hardy)

Photo: A firefighter lights a backfire while battling the Butte fire near San Andreas, California September 12, 2015. REUTERS/Noah Berger

California Gov. Brown Declares State Of Emergency As Wildfires Rage

By Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for two Northern California counties overwhelmed by wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and hundreds of homes.

The emergency declarations cover El Dorado and Siskiyou counties, which have been ravaged by the King and Boles fires, respectively.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday granted a request for aid that can cover up to 75 percent of the state’s costs to fight the King fire; federal aid already had been approved for the Boles fire, as well as the Courtney fire in Madera County.

Combined, the three fires have burned nearly 100,000 acres.

The most destructive in terms of damage to property has been the Boles fire, which erupted late Monday and quickly tore through the logging town of Weed, just west of Mt. Shasta. The fire damaged or destroyed more than 150 structures, including churches, a library, and the town’s sawmill. About 2,000 homes and other buildings remain threatened by the blaze, which was 65 percent contained Thursday.

The fast-moving King fire in El Dorado County, meanwhile, exploded in size overnight, from 27,930 acres to nearly 71,000 acres. More than 2,000 homes and 1,500 other buildings were threatened by the blaze, which was just 5 percent contained as of Thursday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. More than 3,300 firefighters have been assigned to the blaze.

In Madera County, the 320-acre Courtney fire has destroyed 30 homes, 19 outbuildings, and 13 vehicles. It was 70 percent contained as of Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, the state’s largest fire continues to be the Happy Camp Complex fire in Klamath National Forest. The fire, which began Aug. 12 and has burned more than 125,000 acres, is 68 percent contained, the U.S. Forest Service reported.

That blaze is made up of 15 fires, all of which were sparked by lightning.

Photo: Steve Rhodes via Flickr

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Wildfire Near Yosemite National Park Prompts Thousands Of Evacuations

By Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times

Out-of-control wildfire burning near Yosemite has triggered thousands of evacuation orders.

A wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park is threatening 500 homes, has triggered 13,000 evacuation orders, and prompted the Madera County sheriff to declare a local emergency.

The fast-moving Junction fire had burned 1,200 acres and was 0 percent contained overnight, prompting local school officials to close five campuses Tuesday.

Authorities have also closed California 41 leading in and out of Yosemite National Forest and have sent out an additional 2,500 phone calls warning residents they may have to leave if the fire spreads in their direction.

The fire is just one of several blazes raging across California’s parched forests that have state and federal officials on constant alert for the latest flare-up.

In Kern County, Calif., the Way fire had burned through buildings and 3,000 acres after igniting Monday afternoon in Wofford Heights north of California 155. Crews are trying to control the blaze as it crawls through steep terrain and bone-dry vegetation. Evacuation orders were issued Monday for residents among half a dozen Wofford Height neighborhoods.

And in the hills above Azusa, the Tecolote fire in the Angeles National Forest was 60 percent contained Monday after burning approximately 274 acres, the U.S. Forest Service reported.

The blaze was burning in steep, rugged terrain away from homes, said fire officials. California 39 at East Fork was open only to residents.

AFP Photo/Mike Mcmillan

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