Wildfires are inevitable – increasing home losses, fatalities and costs are not

Wildfire has been an integral part of California ecosystems for centuries. Now, however, nearly a third of homes in California are in wildland urban interface areas where houses intermingling with wildlands and fire is a natural phenomenon. Just as Californians must live with earthquake risk, they must live with wildfires.

Shaped by ignitions, climate and fuels, wildfires are likely to become more frequent and severe with climate change. The 2017 experience of the largest and most damaging wildfires in California history, and ongoing destructive fires in 2018, provide a window of opportunity for learning to better coexist with wildfire.

WILDFIRE SMOKE IS SMOTHERING THE US—EVEN WHERE YOU DON'T EXPECT IT

AMERICA IS ON fire … again. More than a million and a half acres are burning in 15 states, from Arizona to Alaska. More than 3,000 firefighters are working to contain the Mendocino Complex Fire 100 miles north of San Francisco, now the largest in California history, and over the weekend, lightning strikes sparked dozens of new wildfires across the state of Washington. Near Mount Shasta, the deadly Carr Fire has so far incinerated 1,077 homes, forced mass evacuations, and killed eight.

Putting a few hundred miles between you and combustion country certainly confers some measure of safety. But not as much as you might think. While wildfires are geographically limited by nearby fuel sources, wildfire smoke goes wherever the wind takes it. Carried on eastward-flowing air currents, dangerous particulate matter from wildfires is increasingly smothering large swathes of the US, causing health scares wherever these air pollution spikes hit. Welcome to the United States of Smoke.

The Next Record-Breaking Fire Will Happen Soon. So How Will California Pay for it?

(TNS) - The Thomas fire that roared through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in December broke records, becoming the state’s largest wildfire in recorded history. But not for long. This month, the Mendocino Complex fire in Northern California broke a record for acres burned. Will the record be broken in another few months or sometime next year? It seems possible, given what fire officials and state leaders say about California’s heightened wildfire risk because of the effects of climate change.

California Lawmakers Resume Deliberations Over Wildfire Safety, Utilities' Response

(TNS) - When a special legislative committee held its first public hearing in response to the North Bay wildfires two weeks ago in Sacramento, there were eight major wildfires burning across California.

When the 10-member bipartisan panel met again Tuesday, the number of conflagrations had doubled, and the marauding Mendocino Complex fires had scorched more than 292,000 acres in three counties or more than 450 square miles.

Mendocino Fire Becomes Biggest in Modern California History as Weary Firefighters Brace for More

(TNS) - It’s day 11 for Omar Estorga on the front lines of California’s firestorm.

Some nights, the captain and his crew have slept — sitting up — in the seats of their fire engine as the Carr fire raged. Other nights, they’ve stayed at the base camp in Shasta County. On their days off, they’ve snagged dorm rooms at Shasta College or, if they’re lucky, a hotel room when another fire crew has checked out.

As some 14,000 firefighters wrap up their second week battling more than a dozen destructive wildfires across the state, fatigue is setting but the fires show few signs of letting up.

Amid Wildfires, Calif.’s Emergency Warning Systems Take Heat

Overnight, the Mendocino Complex Fire in Northern California expanded far enough to oust the 2017 Thomas Fire as the largest wildfire in the state’s history. Comprising two joined fires, the Mendocino Complex Fire has burned through 443 square miles in the area north of San Francisco. As of Tuesday morning, the fires burned more than 140 structures, including at least 75 homes, and was 30% contained.

But California’s residents and businesses still should be on alert, as the incendiary activity doesn’t end there. An unprecedented 14,000 firefighters are combating between 12 and 16 wildfires in the state, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Particular emphasis is in Northern California, where the fires in Mariposa and Shasta counties continue to threaten residents, businesses, and emergency responders. For 26 days, the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County has burned nearly 90,000 acres and caused two fatalities. The fire is having a huge impact on areas near and around Yosemite National Park, which alerted the public that it had closed all but two entrances and roads.

249 Nights Away at California Fires: Firefighter Families Cope With a 'New Normal'

(TNS) - Melissa Morgado began 2018 trying to solve an arithmetic problem: How many nights did she and her firefighter husband spend apart because of work in the previous year?

He was gone for the hot summer months, of course, and again for most of October, and then 19 more days in December when deadly fires broke out on the Central Coast.

Her tally hit 249 nights, the most she and her husband spent apart in his 14 years at Cal Fire.

Marin Firefighters Renew Prevention Pleas Amid State Crises

(TNS) - As wildfires continue to rage across California — including the deadly Carr Fire that injured three Marin firefighters last week — Marin County fire Chief Jason Weber said it’s time to remind residents to be vigilant about fire prevention.

“What’s going on through my head is that I can’t believe it’s only July,” Weber said Monday. “How in the heck are we going to make it another three months, plus?”

Northern California Wildfire Rages; More Deaths, Evacuations Reported

Thousands of dazed evacuees struggled to keep their emotions in check while trying to take care of themselves and their pets as a deadly wildfire in Northern California raged into its fourth day.

Anna Noland, 49, was evacuated twice in three days before learning through video footage that the house she last saw under dark and windy skies had burned.

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