Western wildfires spread apace with drought, rising temperatures

It seems like news of disastrous wildfires never ends. Last winter, we watched as wildfires raged in Santa Barbara County, California. Once contained, the fires then led to catastrophic mudslides that killed 20 people around Montecito, California.

The recent Western wildfires that have been burning in Colorado and California are attributed to multiple factors, including a heat wave and climate change.

Sausalito, Calif., Survey: Residents Want More Wildfire Safeguards

(TNS) - More can be done in Sausalito to protect residents against fire, according to a survey of residents.

The survey was taken in recent weeks with the start of fire season and in the wake of last year’s North Bay fires and more local conflagrations, including one that burned along Highway 101 on the Waldo Grade last October.

Much of Sausalito is on tree-lined hills, and fire danger is a worry.

“The survey was designed to assess the level of concern in our community,” Chris Tubbs, chief of the Southern Marin Fire Protection District, told the City Council last week as he presented the survey. “There is a high level concern about the threat among residents. They think we should be doing more.”

Northern California Wildfires Flare up in Heat, High Winds

Thousands fled their homes as major wildfires encroached on a charred area of Northern California still recovering from severe blazes in recent years, sparking concern the state may be in for another destructive series of wildfires this summer.

California officials said unusually hot weather, high winds and highly flammable vegetation turned brittle by drought helped fuel the fires that began over the weekend, the same conditions that led to the state’s deadliest and most destructive fire year in 2017.

'It was time to go.' Wildfires send Northern California residents fleeing again

SPRING VALLEY, LAKE COUNTY
Fueled by high temperatures, dry grasslands and gusting winds, a series of wildfires continued to burn across Northern California counties Monday as firefighters braced for what may be another brutal fire year for California.

Following the devastating firestorms that killed 44 people last fall and caused roughly $10 billion in damages, Cal Fire is warning that the number of fires and acreage burned so far this year is higher than the same six-month period last year, and far above the five-year average.

In the last week alone, Cal Fire has responded to 256 blazes, 90 of them just on Saturday and Sunday, Cal Fire spokesman Scott McClean said.

California Wildfire Survivor Bills Pass Senate Committee

Four bills sponsored by the California Department of Insurance that the department believes will strengthen consumer protections for wildfire survivors have passed the Senate Insurance Committee with unanimous, bipartisan votes.

Assembly Bill 1772 would extend the amount of time a home or business owner has to rebuild an insured property from two to three years after a declared wildfire emergency and receive the full replacement costs to which they are entitled.

Downed Power Lines Sparked Deadly California Fires, Investigation Shows

A dozen wildfires that burned thousands of homes in California’s wine country and killed at least 15 people last October were started by Pacific Gas & Electric power lines and utility poles, state fire officials said.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection released its investigation Friday for some of the wind-driven fires that ravaged Mendocino, Humboldt, Butte, Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties.

California Legislators Said to Consider Wildfire Relief Fund to Help Utilities

California lawmakers are said to be considering a proposal to help utilities shoulder billions of dollars in potential liability costs while offering relief to wildfire victims by setting up a compensation fund that would be backed by the state and the power companies.

Details, including the size, are still being worked out and the proposal – one of a number of options being considered – may not come together, according to people familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified because they aren’t public. The fund could issue bonds, with the payments potentially provided by utility shareholders, ratepayers and revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program or general fund, the people said.

California Bill Would Shield PG&E, Edison from Some Wildfire Liability

Utility giants PG&E Corp. and Edison International could gain at least some protection against future wildfire damages under a bill that’s advancing in California’s legislature.

An amended bill being weighed by California’s Senate would shield utilities that follow approved safety plans in future state proceedings should one of their power lines spark a wildfire. Utilities would remain vulnerable to potential civil lawsuits, and the legislation wouldn’t be retroactive — meaning PG&E and Edison could still face billions of dollars in costs from wildfires that destroyed thousands of structures last year.

California Governor Suspends Mobile Home Regulations to Help Fire Victims

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed an executive order removing barriers to mobile home construction and placement in an effort to help residents displaced by the recent Southern California mudslides and wildfires.

The order suspends for three months all regulations included in the state’s laws governing mobile and manufactured homes.

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