Impacts, Lessons from Oroville Spillway Crisis

(TNS) — The Lake Oroville spillway crisis and evacuation last February might have only lasted a few days for Yuba-Sutter residents, but the ordeal left many with unanswered questions and a newfound fear of the unknowns of living downstream from an aging water storage facility and system.

Questions about who is to blame for the spillway's failure, how it happened and what can be done to prevent it from happening again continue to resonate with local residents close to a year after the event occurred.

The Appeal-Democrat reached out to community members and officials about the incident to gauge how they were impacted by the event, what the most significant takeaway was for them and what they would like to see changed moving forward.

How California and Western States Should Shift Their Fire Prevention Strategy

(TNS) - When the phone rang at 4:50 a.m. Thursday, I woke up on high alert. No one calls that early with good news.

When I saw the caller ID said “CSUN Emergency,” my heart started racing. My youngest son, Cameron, attends California State University-Northridge. High alert shifted to dread.

It turned out the call was just to inform us that CSUN was canceling classes that day due to poor air quality and transportation issues stemming from the massive Southern California wildfires. What a relief. But there was no chance I would go back to sleep without finding out how close the fires were to CSUN’s dorms and what the strategy was for putting the fires out.

Oroville Dam Repairs Concern Calif. Residents

Construction of a new spillway at the Oroville Dam in northern California—the largest dam in the U.S.—is underway and is expected to be completed sometime in 2018, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The dam replaces the previous spillway, which was damaged by heavy flooding in February.

Problems at the Oroville Dam began, when the dam’s main sluice was damaged after a winter season of record rain and snowfall, following five years of drought. Torrential rainfall caused water levels to rise so quickly that large amounts needed to be released to prevent the dam from rupturing and sending a wall of water to the communities below.

California Dept. of Insurance issues formal notice about wildfire claims

In the aftermath of the Northern California wildfires, on Nov. 20, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones directed the California Department of Insurance to issue a formal notice to insurers, licensed public adjusters and admitted carriers to make sure all claims adjusters assigned to wildfire claims, including those not licensed in California, are properly trained on the California Unfair Practices Act, Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations, and all laws relating to property and casualty insurance claims handling.

The guidance continues to be important as Southern Californians deal with wildfires in the Los Angeles area.

How A Dry Spell Allowed Winds to Lash California With Flames

The hot, dry Santa Ana winds whipping up the unseasonably fierce wildfires ravaging Southern California have come at the worst time, at the end of a long dry spell.

The combination of savage Santa Anas and tinder-dry plants have ignited large wildfires in the region this week, upending lives at a time when many people were preparing for the winter holidays, officials said.

It served as a reminder that parts of California increasingly face a year-round threat of flames.

“There is no fire season anymore,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLain, adding that this was particularly true in Southern California.

Los Angeles 405 Freeway closes in rush hour as wildfires spread

(Bloomberg) -- A major commuter artery in Los Angeles closed Wednesday morning and some of the city’s wealthiest estates, including Rupert Murdoch’s Moraga vineyard, were ordered evacuated as Southern California firefighters battled several wind-fanned wildfires.

Stretches of Interstate 405 were shut and neighborhoods near the freeway and Mulholland Drive, including parts of Bel-Air, were being evacuated, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Residents were warned by text messages.

Los Angeles Wildfires Close Roads, Threaten Crops, Force Evacuations

Wildfires raging across Southern California have shut a major commuter artery in Los Angeles, suspended filming, wiped out more than $3 billion of market value for regional utility Edison International and are threatening some of the state’s lucrative crops.

Stretches of Interstate 405, which feeds major Los Angeles job centers, were shut as flames engulfed nearby mountainsides. Neighborhoods near the freeway and the famed Mulholland Drive, including parts of upscale Bel-Air, were evacuated. Snap Inc. shut operations, and a major conference on microcap stocks that was scheduled to be held in Los Angeles through Thursday was canceled. Ventura County, home to a third of California’s avocado acreage, has seen tens of thousands of acres consumed, and citrus growers have been affected.

Southern California faces extreme fire risk from dry winds

(Bloomberg) -- Dry and warm gusts blowing in from the desert have elevated the wildfire risk in Southern California to critical, several weeks after deadly flames tore through wine country to the north.

The strongest Santa Ana winds of the season threaten more than 14,000 square miles (36,260 square kilometers) covering a population in excess of 19.9 million, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. That includes Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino. They’re expected to last through Thursday.

California Brothers Nabbed in Staged Auto Accident Ring Involving 20 Others

A two-year investigation has netted 22 suspects in an auto fraud ring in California that cost insurers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Brothers Angel Topete, 36, and Joshua Topete, 34, both of San Martin, Calif., were arrested on numerous felony charges for allegedly running an organized auto insurance fraud scam involving more than 20 individuals and 18 staged collisions netting conspirators $210,000 in fraudulent auto insurance claims.


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