Former Governor Focuses on Saving California Forests from Wildfires

As smoke lingered in the air amid another destructive California wildfire season, former Gov. Jerry Brown invited a group to his ranch for an urgent conversation: What more could be done to save California’s forests from wildfires?

The reality of what has become annual fire devastation for the state has become more a part of Brown’s life since he built his retirement home on a stretch of land where his great-grandfather settled in the 1850s, about 60 miles northwest of Sacramento.

Report: Wildfires Have California in ‘Heightened State of Alert’

California, which has seen its eight largest recorded wildfires since 2017, is in a “heightened state of alert,” according to a new report that calls for urgent policy actions.

The report was released on Wednesday and also discussed in a Zoom conference by a panel of experts the same day.

The panel coincidentally occurred the same day that California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara ordered insurance companies to preserve 209,881 residential property insurance policies held by wildfire survivors included in an earlier emergency declaration, bringing the total statewide to 618,700 policyholders across 31 counties who were granted temporary protection from non-renewals or cancellations by insurers.

California Remembers 3rd Anniversary of Wildfire That Killed 85, Destroyed Thousands of Homes

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday marked the third anniversary of California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire by announcing that nearly 100,000 damaged trees have been removed and debris cleaned up from some 11,000 properties.

The Camp Fire that erupted on Nov. 8, 2018, in the Sierra Nevada foothills killed 85 people, destroyed nearly 19,000 homes, businesses and other buildings and virtually razed the town of Paradise.

About 1,000 homes in the area northeast of San Francisco have been rebuilt and reconstruction continues on others, but entire blocks of Paradise remain little more than empty lots.

Southern California Wildfire Almost Fully Contained, Residents Go Home

Residents who fled the Alisal Fire west of Santa Barbara have been allowed to return home.

All evacuation orders and warnings were canceled Sunday afternoon.

The fire was 87% contained Monday morning and its size was holding at about 27 square miles.

The fire erupted in the Santa Ynez Mountains during high winds on Oct. 11. The cause remains under investigation.

Surging California Winds Spark New Wildfires, Power Outages

Blustery winds still surged through California on Tuesday after downing trees, fanning wildfires and shutting off power to about 21,000 customers in northern and central regions.

Red flag warnings of dangerous fire conditions continued in mountains, valleys, canyons and deserts because of dry, windy weather. Winds of 25 mph with gusts up to 70 mph into early Tuesday evening.

Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to about 21,000 customers in 20 central and northern California counties to reduce the risk that power lines could be toppled, sparking wildfires.

California Encourages Prescribed Burns to Counter Wildfires

California is encouraging more use of fire to fight fire, such as when deliberately set burns were recently used to protect giant sequoias from a raging wildfire.

But sometimes what are known as prescribed fires themselves spread out of control, causing their own extensive damage.

A bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Wednesday adds legal protections for private landowners and those who manage the blazes by raising the legal standard for seeking wildfire suppression costs from simple negligence to gross negligence.

Such costs can include not only fighting the fire, but related rescues and investigations.

Suspected Arson Wildfire Forces Evacuations in Northern California

Thousands of people were under evacuation orders Friday and many others were on notice to be ready to flee as a destructive wildfire raged in a drought-stricken forest in California’s far north.

A woman suspected of starting the Fawn Fire was under arrest, authorities said.

The fire in the Mountain Gate area north of the city of Redding covered more than 9 square miles and was 10% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

PG&E: Power Shutoff Protocol May Avert Dixie-Like Fires in California

PG&E Corp. told a judge it has put into place new safety measures that would have resulted in power being cut to a utility line suspected of sparking the second-largest wildfire in California history.

The California utility giant said it changed safety settings on its equipment so electricity can be shut off more quickly in the case of a disturbance or fault on certain lines located in high-fire risk areas, according to a court filing submitted Friday. The move was made after the start of the Dixie Fire in July to help reduce the threat of major wildfires in California in light of the extreme drought conditions and dry vegetation, PG&E said.

‘The Risk is Here in Coming Weeks’ for Southern California, Says Fire Weather Expert

Several massive blazes have plagued Northern California this year, and now it could be Southern California’s turn.

The Dixie and Caldor fires continue to do damage in Northern California, putting the state at more than 2.2 million acres burned this year, according to CalFire. The Caldor Fire is at 219,267 acres and 68% contained, and the Dixie fire has burned 960,470 acres and is 75% contained.

The state’s wildfire season has been bad enough that California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara issued notices to insurers alerting them to cease non-renewals and cancellations of insurance coverage for communities with wildfire emergencies.

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