California Utilities’ Wildfire Prevention Plans Call for More Blackouts

California utilities plan to continue shutting off power to customers during dry and windy conditions to prevent sparking deadly wildfires, but they aim to make outages more targeted to avoid widespread blackouts, according to plans filed with the state.

Plans by the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities said wildfire mitigation plans would build on efforts made last year to reduce the risk their equipment would cause deadly infernos.

Bay Area, Calif., Clinics Seek Masks for Coronavirus in Light of Shortage

(TNS) - In late January, as the coronavirus continued spreading across the globe, the Foothill Community Health Center in San Jose, Calif., had a problem.

The center, a nonprofit network of medical and dental clinics, was running low on N95 masks — the respirator mask that officials recommend health care workers wear when coming in contact with patients who may have coronavirus.

“There’s a huge shortage,” said Umer Murtaza, the safety manager and facilities coordinator for Foothill’s clinics. Staff normally wear surgical masks during flu season, but with the coronavirus starting to spread beyond China, Foothill wanted to upgrade to N95s. It had some, but not enough.

Minor Earthquake Confirmed in California High Desert

A minor earthquake struck the Southern California high desert on Saturday and was was felt across the region, the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed.

The USGS reports the 3.9-magnitude earthquake hit an area about 13 miles northeast of Barstow at 11:34 a.m. Saturday.

Authorities said there were no immediate reports of damages or injuries. People reported to the USGS that they felt light shaking as far away as Los Angeles and Indio.

A Tale of Two Californias: Managing Wildfire Risk in the Year 2030

For most of the 20th century, the insurance industry considered wildfires to be little more than a benign nuisance. They occurred frequently but rarely resulted in more than a handful of claims, and underwriters priced for them in the same way as other attritional sources of loss like theft, breakage and sewer back-up.

Then in 1991, everything changed.

Imaging Tech Is Helping Firefighters in Glendale, Calif.

(TNS) — Smoke quickly fills a room the size of a shipping container while two bodies lie on the floor. Within seconds, they completely disappear from view — though not for personnel with the Glendale Fire Department.

The smoke actually came from a fog machine and the bodies were firefighters who volunteered to act as stand-ins as the agency demonstrated its new thermal-imaging cameras on Wednesday. Although the firefighters could no longer be seen with the naked eye, their thermal signatures could be seen as clear as day through the cameras.

States and Feds Bracing for More Disasters Related to Climate Change

(TNS) - State lawmakers across the country are calling for huge investments to mitigate the effects of wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, droughts and other natural disasters made more devastating and frequent by climate change.

Following the hottest decade on record, which saw record-breaking wildfires in the West, extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, a years-long drought in California, and severe flooding in the Midwest, legislators in many states say it's long past time to treat such events as the new normal — and invest accordingly.

California City Gets ‘Comfort Dog’ to Soothe 911 Dispatchers

(TNS) - For 911 dispatcher Lynette Starnes, the most chilling calls are the ones that come in from locations she can’t track.

“A stabbing, a homicide, a medical aid, we’re trained to get through that stuff,” she said. “But if I don’t know where you’re at, we can’t help you, and that is my personal biggest stress.”

Starnes has learned to weather the pressures of the job after more than three decades as a dispatcher for the San Rafael Police Department. But sometimes, she said, it’s tough to shake the anxiety.

Probe Finds PG&E Failed to Inspect Transmission Lines That Caused 2018 Wildfire

Bankrupt California power producer PG&E Corp. did not properly inspect and replace transmission lines before a faulty wire sparked a wildfire that killed more than 80 people in 2018, a probe by a state regulator has concluded.

The Caribou-Palermo transmission line was identified as the cause of the Camp Fire last year, which virtually incinerated the Northern California town of Paradise and stands as the state’s most lethal blaze.

California Has Earthquakes, Wildfires, Floods and Volcanoes

(TNS) - Margaret Mangan didn’t sleep well in the weeks following the Ridgecrest, Calif., earthquakes. The July shaking triggered a swarm of smaller tremors in the nearby Coso Volcanic Field, a cluster of lava domes and cinder cones at the northern end of the Mojave Desert. And it was Mangan’s job to watch for a possible eruption.

“We were pretty much on 24-7 vigilance,” said Mangan, the longtime scientist-in-charge of the U.S. Geological Survey’s California Volcano Observatory.

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