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.

Calif. Carr Fire Claims 6 Lives

Just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse in California, the Carr wildfire ignited, claiming six lives so far. The fire in Northern California near the city of Redding has been burning since July 23 and is now one of the largest in the state.

Almost 90,000 acres have burned, destroying more than 500 homes and commercial buildings and damaging 135 structures. Firefighters, who are working 24- to 36-hour shifts with little rest in between, said they are making progress and are now on the offense rather than in a defensive mode.

“Although it’s too early for credible insured loss estimates, the current California wildfires could noticeably impact exposed insurers’ 3Q 2018 earnings,” KBW said in a statement today.

Experts say urban sprawl, climate change heighten wildfire risk

A fire that started in a rural community in Northern California underscored a new reality in the state when days later it suddenly roared through neighborhoods on the edge of the city of Redding: Urban areas are increasingly vulnerable to wildfires.

In the last year, neighborhoods in the Northern California wine country city of Santa Rosa and the Southern California beach city of Ventura have been devastated.

Hotter weather attributed to climate change is drying out vegetation, creating more intense fires that spread quickly from rural areas to city subdivisions, climate and fire experts say. But they also blame municipalities that are expanding housing into previously undeveloped areas.

California Governor Taking PG&E Closer to Fire Law Changes

California utility giants PG&E Corp. and Edison International are one step closer to changing a state law that has exposed them to billions of dollars in wildfire liabilities.

Late Tuesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a bill that would require a court to consider whether a utility acted “reasonably” when deciding whether it should end up on the hook for fire damages. Brown said the proposal wouldn’t affect the potential liabilities PG&E and Edison face for blazes that devastated the state in 2017. Still, it’s a win for PG&E, which has been lobbying hard to change a policy that holds utilities responsible for the costs of wildfires their equipment caused, even if they weren’t negligent.

Deadly Ferguson Wildfires Threaten Access to Yosemite Park

The Ferguson wildfires have been spreading in Mariposa County, California on the western edge of Yosemite National Park for days, burning 27 square miles and taking the life of one firefighter.

The Mercury News reported that more than 1,400 firefighters have been on the scene trying to protect 100 nearby homes and businesses that are in the fire’s path as it moves south and east.

The fires began July 13 at about 8:30 p.m. and by July 15 had nearly doubled to 9,300 acres. On Wednesday it was at 17,319 acres and 5% contained. And while authorities have not declared an official cause, Colin Gannon, senior data analyst at Four Twenty Seven, which studies the economic risk of climate change, said weather and environmental conditions are certainly contributing factors.

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