Santa Ana Winds Return to California Bringing Wildfire Danger

The Santa Ana winds have returned to California, a signal to the state’s residents that the wildfire season has begun in earnest.

The winds are created by high pressure over Nevada’s Great Basin as cool weather starts to arrive in the Fall. Low pressure systems in warmer California pull them along, and as they flow through the Sierra Nevadas and other ranges, twisting their way through narrow passes and canyons, they heat up, lose moisture and gain speed.

Coast Guard Issues Safety Recommendations After California Dive Boat Fire

The Coast Guard announced it has issued new safety recommendations in the wake of a fatal boat fire off the Southern California coast that killed 34 people. The agency recommended limiting the unsupervised charging of lithium-ion batteries and the use of power strips and extension cords.

The bulletin also suggests that owners and operators of vessels review emergency duties with the crew, identify emergency escapes, check all firefighting and lifesaving equipment onboard, and look at the condition of passenger accommodation spaces for “unsafe practices or other hazardous arrangements.”

PG&E Reaches $11B Settlement Relating to California Wildfire Claims

Power producer PG&E Corp. said on Friday it has reached an $11 billion settlement agreement with entities representing about 85% of insurance subrogation claims relating to 2017 and 2018 wildfires.

The company said these claims were based on payments made by insurance companies to individuals and businesses with insurance coverage for wildfire damages.

Report: California Workers’ Comp Medical Payment Trends Fell in 2018

Medical payments in California’s workers’ compensation system continued to decline in 2018 as the medical payments per claim decreased, according to a report from the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California.

The WCIRB released its California Workers’ Compensation Aggregate Medical Payment Trends report comparing medical payment information from 2016 to 2018.

Report Examines First-Year Impact of California’s New Drug Formulary

A new report shows that an evidence-based drug formulary put into effect by the California Division of Workers’ Compensation’s over a year ago may be working.

The formulary went into effect Jan. 1, 2018. It was intended to: reduce frictional costs in the workers’ compensation system; restrict inappropriate prescribing, especially those that relate to opioids; and ensure that injured workers receive medically necessary medications in a timely manner.

9 Missing, 25 Dead in Southern California Dive Boat Fire

Divers and search crews were still looking Tuesday for nine missing people after at least 25 were confirmed dead when a boat packed with scuba divers caught fire near an island off the Southern California coast.

The dive-boat Conception became engulfed in flames before dawn as the passengers on a recreational scuba diving trip slept below deck.

California Earthquake Authority Policy Sales Spiked After Ridgecrest Quakes

The California Earthquake Authority gained 23,861 earthquake insurance policies following the magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes and aftershocks that struck on unnamed faults near Ridgecrest beginning on the July 4 holiday.

That’s the second-largest monthly net increase in the 23-year history of the CEA, a not-for-profit, privately funded, publicly managed organization.

California State Fund Declares $105M Dividend for Workers’ Comp Policyholders

The board of California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund announced plans to distribute a $105 million dividend to qualifying policyholders with policies that took effect between Jan. 1 and Aug. 19.

This dividend equals roughly 15% of the estimated annual premium reported in State Fund’s mid-year 2019 financial statement and averages out to roughly $1,400 per employer.

PG&E Shut-offs Could be Catastrophic, California Officials Say

(TNS) - Northern California communities hit by some of the worst wildfires the state has ever seen are now preparing for another kind of disaster: prolonged power shut-offs caused intentionally by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

PG&E has used its aggressive new strategy to prevent its equipment from starting another fire only on one weekend so far this year. But the utility is poised to turn off the lights much more in the coming months as hot, dry and windy weather persists during the most dangerous part of wildfire season.

The impacts may be extreme and unprecedented, cutting entire cities off from the electric grid for several days in the worst-case scenarios. In those instances, stoplights and even cell phones could stop working properly, local officials say, snarling traffic and hamstringing residents’ ability to communicate.

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