Friday, March 22, 2019 - 06:30 External News

(TNS) — Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California on Friday and waived environmental regulations to expedite nearly three dozen local forest management projects to protect communities from the deadly wildfires that have decimated regions up and down the state.

The governor's action marks the latest effort by the state to offset the possibility of catastrophe after back-to-back years of savage wildfires that killed more than 100 people and burned nearly 2 million acres in total. The projects will cost a total of $35 million, which will be paid with forest management funds in the 2018-19 budget.

Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 06:30 External News

Fighting wildfires has traditionally been a response driven by experience, but as conditions change, as they have in California, that response becomes more difficult.

Climate change has made the wildfire seasons in California longer and more severe, and that makes response that is based on history and experience difficult. But that’s beginning to change because of technology as more than 700 stakeholders learned this week at the Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit held at California State University, Sacramento.

A recent drought in California and global warming, in part, has led to increasingly intense fires that in 2017 and 2018 killed more than 100 people in 2017 and 2018, burning more than 875,000 acres. The changing conditions have resulted in a fire season that is nearly year-round.

Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 06:30 External News

A rare hailstorm hit normally sunny Southern California on Wednesday, as residents flocked to social media to post pictures of driveways, lawns and roofs blanketed in white nickel-size ice chunks.

The National Weather Service reported 1.57 inches of rain was recorded for the day at the Compton Creek rain gauge, while intense pockets of thunderstorms peppered the Southland. Freeways and roads were clogged even more than usual during rush hour, as Interstate 710 and State Route 91 were closed after several feet of water flooded lanes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - 07:30 External News

Authorities confirmed multiple people were inured in an explosion following reports of an underground gas leak in South Los Angeles, Calif.

The fire department says crews found flames coming from storm drains early Sunday. Officials say the blast displaced several manholes in a neighborhood about 6 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 09:45 External News

(TNS) - In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, researchers say damage by the end of the century could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and wildfires in state history.

A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster — could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time.

The study combines sea level rise and storms for the first time, as well as wave action, cliff erosion, beach loss and other coastal threats across California. These factors have been studied extensively but rarely together in the same model.

Monday, March 11, 2019 - 07:30 External News

California’s Santa Anita racetrack will impose new rules to scrutinize horses training on its racetrack and add a director of equine welfare following the deaths of 21 horses since Dec. 26.

The main dirt track and turf courses were in a third day of examination Saturday in an effort to uncover what may have led to the series of catastrophic breakdowns. The racetrack remains closed indefinitely for racing.

Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 08:00 External News

(TNS) — PG&E's "unsafe conduct" caused a gas explosion in San Bruno and several fatal Northern California wildfires, but a federal judge will allow PG&E to primarily focus on tree-trimming rather than be forced to launch a complete inspection of its power grid.

"The judge's actions don't really ensure the safety of the system," said Mike Danko, a Redwood City-based attorney who represents some Northern California wildfire victims. "I guess this is a first step towards safety."

Nevertheless, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, who is supervising PG&E's probation in the wake of its criminal conviction for felonies it committed before and after a deadly gas explosion in San Bruno, blamed PG&E's deficient safety efforts for causing both the San Bruno disasters and a string of lethal wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 06:30 External News

(TNS) — Intense mega-fires have become the “new abnormal” in California. The wildfires are out, for now. Thank you, firefighters! But the fight over who should bear the costs of future damage compensation and risk mitigation is heating up.

Citing wildfire liabilities upwards of $30 billion, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the state’s largest electric utility, recently filed for bankruptcy. Headlines hail this the first of many “climate change bankruptcies.” But climate change is only one factor. These fires would not be so big if we did not send power through thousands of miles of tinderbox forest at high-risk times. Liabilities would not be so large if fewer people lived in high fire-risk areas.

Friday, March 1, 2019 - 07:15 External News

A Northern California river flooded 2,000 homes, businesses and other buildings and left two communities virtual islands after days of stormy weather, officials said Wednesday.

The towns of Guerneville and Monte Rio were hardest hit by water pouring from the Russian River, which topped 46 feet on Wednesday, said Briana Khan, a Sonoma County spokeswoman.

Thursday, February 28, 2019 - 11:45 External News

(TNS) - This would be a first for California: state government buying insurance to protect itself against overspending its budget.

But before you start pelting the politicians and screaming fiscal irresponsibility, know that the budget-busting would be for fighting wildfires.

That puts it in an entirely different category from, say, controversial spending to help immigrants who are here illegally, or trying to register voters at the notoriously jammed DMV.

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