Fire Season Could be Bad in the Pacific Northwest

(TNS) - Wildland firefighters expect the Pacific Northwest will see another busy fire season this year with land around Yakima especially vulnerable.

“If I were to pick one place that might experience above-average fire danger, it’s the Yakima Valley and the eastern slopes” of the Cascade Mountains, said Josh Clark, a meteorologist with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Less rain in the winter, above-average temperatures and less mountain snow mean fires could start earlier and burn longer than a typical season, Clark said.

More Than 60 Deaths in Fires, Floods Exposes Weaknesses in California's Emergency Planning

(TNS) — A reckoning on public preparedness long in the making is underway in California after a year that saw unprecedented death, destruction and loss from disasters set off by extreme weather.

Though California has long experienced natural disasters tied to weather, the last year recorded a staggering human toll — more than 40 dead in wine country fires and more than 20 in Santa Barbara County mudslides.

Sonoma County, Calif., Learns Bitter Lessons from Deadly Fire, Adopts Reforms

Sonoma County, which lost 25 lives in last October’s wildfires, has changed the ways in which it alerts residents after scathing criticism for not using cellphone alerts during the devasting fires last fall.

The then emergency manager and others decided against sending out mass alerts because they believed they could not adequately target who received the messages and didn’t want to “over-alert.” They felt that doing so could lead people who were safe to evacuate into a more dangerous area or cause severe traffic.

California Spent $1.8B Fighting 2017 Wildfires

California state agencies spent nearly $1.8 billion fighting fierce wildfires that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses last year, legislative budget experts reported Thursday.

The federal government will reimburse most of the costs, but the state will still need to come up with about $371 million on top of the state’s existing wildfire budget, the Legislative Analyst’s Office told the Senate Budget committee. That shouldn’t be a problem because state revenue has far exceeded expectations so far this fiscal year and the general fund is flush with cash.

California Fire Officials Request $100 Million to Fix Mutual-Aid System

(TNS) - California fire officials asked lawmakers Tuesday for $100 million to improve the state’s strained mutual-aid system, which is designed to quickly rally first responders in an emergency, such as the deadly fires that ravaged the North Bay last year.

At a legislative hearing in Sacramento, fire chiefs and emergency officials said wildfires across the state last year exposed shortcomings in the 60-year-old system.

Californians can go home but told to keep watch on wildfire

BISHOP, Calif. (AP) —
A wind-driven wildfire in rural central California threatened hundreds of buildings Monday, including a historic railroad station, but officials said they made some gains after the flames exploded in size.

The blaze scorched 3½ square miles of chaparral bush and shrub oak in the small town of Bishop on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada that is popular for hiking, fishing, climbing and hunting.

Officials ended most evacuations that were ordered near the town but warned that strong winds were expected in the area and urged residents to remain vigilant.

California Insurance Department reveals loss estimate on 2017 wildfires

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones revealed that insurers have received nearly 45,000 insurance claims totaling more than $11.79 billion in losses after a spell of wildfires affected California in the last three months of 2017.

Thirty-two thousand (32,000) homes, 4,300 businesses, and 8,200 vehicles, watercraft, farm vehicles and other equipment have been destroyed.

Sonoma County to Sue PG&E Over October Fires, Seeking up to $25 Million in Damages

(TNS) - Sonoma County officials said Tuesday that they will sue PG&E over the October wildfires, becoming the first government entity to take on the utility giant over its alleged role in the historic infernos.

The county is seeking in its planned lawsuit tens of millions of dollars in damages to clear debris, rebuild infrastructure and develop safety measures to prevent future disasters.

The move came about a month after the Board of Supervisors hired a group of private attorneys to represent them at a hearing to consolidate more than 100 similar suits from burned-out residents under a single San Francisco judge.

More Cameras on California Mountain Peaks to Boost Fire Protection

San Diego County, Calif. authorities say new high-definition cameras will be installed on mountain peaks to bolster fire protection, and an existing computer network that links fire stations throughout the region will be upgraded.

The Union-Tribune reports officials want to boost by five the number of cameras that use an established network that allows firefighting agencies to closely monitor remote areas.

California proposes stronger laws to help wildfire survivors with insurance claims

California’s Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and legislators from wildfire-damaged communities across the Golden State unveiled a series of new laws designed to strengthen consumer protections for wildfire survivors making insurance claims who struggle to recover, rebuild, and move forward.


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