Friday, September 11, 2020 - 11:45 External News

(TNS) - The monstrous North Complex fires claimed another seven lives in Butte County, bringing the death toll to 10 on Thursday as search crews looked for 26 people who have not been heard from.

In one case, investigators asked relatives of a missing 16-year-old boy to provide DNA samples, which helped confirm that one of the dead was their loved one, Josiah Williams, of Berry Creek.

“We are at a complete loss for words right now,” his aunt, Bobbie Zedaker, told The Chronicle late Thursday night.

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 07:00 External News

(TNS) - Shrouded in near darkness, beneath a gloomy, orange sky, Fabian Rios worked to repair a fire hydrant late Wednesday morning.

Working alongside the headlights of his truck, the Bay Area utility employee said the lack of light wasn’t troubling him.

“The real problem is the ash falling from the sky,” said Rios, who works for the city of Mountain View and was wearing a surgical mask. “I am just getting covered.”

As fires rage up and down the West Coast, the skies over California have taken an apocalyptic turn — choking the air with ash and smoke in some regions, while snuffing out sunlight in others. Rarely have so many Californians breathed such unhealthy air.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - 11:45 External News

Wildfires have burned a record 2 million acres in California this year, and the danger for more destruction is so high the U.S. Forest Service announced Monday it was closing all eight national forests in the southern half of the state.

After a typically dry summer, California is parched heading into fall and what normally is the most dangerous time for wildfires. Two of the three largest fires in state history are burning in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 14,000 firefighters are battling those fires and dozens of others more around California.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - 08:00 External News

(TNS) - The Bear Fire burning in Northern California exploded Tuesday night and into Wednesday, destroying the rural Berry Creek community above Lake Oroville in Butte County, and prompting evacuation orders for at least 20,000 people lower down the hill in the Oroville area and surrounding towns.

Berry Creek, a secluded rural area of about 1,200 people, was in ashen ruins Wednesday, hours after a midnight firestorm and frantic evacuation.

“I’ve only seen three homes left standing,” said Sacramento Bee photographer Jason Pierce Wednesday afternoon, reporting from the hill town. “Dozens of houses and businesses are destroyed. Every house is just dust.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 13:00 External News

(TNS) - An “unprecedented disaster” is unfolding in Fresno County, officials said Monday night, as the 3-day-old Creek Fire grew to more than 135,500 acres.

Containment remained stuck at 0%, a combined gathering of local, state and federal officials said during a news conference at Sierra High School in Tollhouse, where a grim though still general assessment of heavy structural damage was reported.

Dozens of homes and other buildings appear to have been destroyed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 13:00 External News

New wildfires ravaged California during a scorching Labor Day weekend that saw a dramatic airlift of more than 200 people trapped by flames and ended with the state’s largest utility turning off power to 172,000 customers to try to prevent its power lines and other equipment from sparking more fires.

California is heading into what traditionally is the teeth of the wildfire season, and already it has set a record with 2 million acres burned this year. The previous record was set just two years ago and included the deadliest wildfire in state history — the Camp Fire that swept through the community of Paradise and killed 85 people.

That fire was started by Pacific Gas & Electric power lines. Liability from billions of dollars in claims from that and other fires forced the utility to seek bankruptcy protection. To guard against new wildfires and new liability, PG&E last year began preemptive power shutoffs when conditions are exceptionally dangerous.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 07:15 External News

Several big wildfire bills were left on the table when the California Legislature ended its session earlier this week, but you can expect at least one bill to make a comeback in some form.

Assembly Bill 2167, authored by Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, would have established the Insurance Market Action Plan program, or IMAP program, under which residential property insurance policies in a county may qualify for IMAP protection.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 10:30 External News

A study shows California’s stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus seems to have reduced wildlife collisions, as decreased traffic resulted in fewer collisions with mountain lions, deer and other large animals.

A study by the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis found traffic declined by about 75% after the emergency health regulation went into effect in March, The Ventura County Star reports.

The number of animals struck and killed by vehicles also fell, including a 58% decrease in fatal crashes involving mountain lions between the 10 weeks before and 10 weeks after the order was in place.

Friday, August 28, 2020 - 10:15 External News

Managing resources on the scene of an emergency has been a challenge for first responders and emergency managers for decades, and that hasn’t changed. But there are tools to help, and one that is being used on the California wildfire front as well as the pandemic response is the Tablet Command (TC)

The TC was developed by two firefighters in 2007 and has evolved over the years to the challenges of today.

Right now, it’s in use in the fight against Northern California wildfires in San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and San Joaquin counties to manage strike team resources. The teams build an incident in the TC, enter all the resources being used and create a timestamp activity record. The TC essentially creates an activity log of what is happening on the fire line.

Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 11:45 External News

California residents have organized to put out flames themselves in a large swath of land burning south of San Francisco, defending their homes despite orders to evacuate and pleas by officials to get out of danger.

They are going in despite California’s firefighting agency repeatedly warning people that it’s not safe and actually illegal to go into evacuated areas, and they can hinder official efforts to stop the flames. The former head of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the effort near a cluster of wildfires around the city of Santa Cruz is larger and more organized than he recalls in previous blazes.