California Firefighters Battling a Dozen Large Blazes

More than 13,500 firefighters were working Monday to contain a dozen large California wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of people to flee to safety.

After an extensive review of fire damage, Gov. Gavin Newsom requested a presidential major disaster declaration for eight counties, Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services, told a briefing near Sacramento.

If approved, the declaration would provide a wide range of assistance including housing, food aid, unemployment and governmental emergency costs, Ghilarducci said.

California Wildfire Season Setting a Record, More Damage Expected

Smoke from California’s wildfires choked people on the East Coast. Flames wiped out a Gold Rush-era town. The acreage burned would dwarf the state of Rhode Island.

Images of homes engulfed in flames and mountains glowing like lava would make it easy to conclude the Golden State is a charred black landscape.

That’s hardly the case, but the frightening reality is that the worst may be yet to come.

More Homes Threatened as Blazes Burn in California, Across West

Thousands of homes in Northern California remain threatened by the nation’s largest wildfire as unstable weather creates a high danger of new blazes erupting across the West.

Weekend thunderstorms across the northern Sierra didn’t produce much rain, instead whipping up winds and unleashing lightning strikes that that bedeviled the more than 6,000 firefighters trying to contain the month-old Dixie Fire amid temperatures forecast to top 100 degrees (38 Celsius).

Wildfire Weather May Return to Northern California

Thick smoke that held down winds and temperatures began to clear Sunday from the scenic forestlands of Northern California as firefighters battling the largest single wildfire in state history braced for a return of fire-friendly weather.

The winds weren’t expected to reach the ferocious speeds that helped the Dixie Fire explode in size last week. But they were nonetheless concerning for firefighters working in unprecedented conditions to protect thousands of threatened homes.

Northern California’s Dixie Fire Has Affected 800-Plus Structures, And High Winds Are on Their Way

When Tom Larsen thinks of the Dixie Fire in Northern California, he thinks about better modeling.

Larsen, the senior director for content strategy for catastrophe modeler CoreLogic Inc., pointed to some grim facts about the ongoing Dixie blaze: It’s already the second largest wildfire in recorded state history, and over the past two years five of the state’s top seven largest fires have occurred – things he blames on forestry management, climate change, more homes being built in the wildland-urban interface and of course the massive drought plaguing the Western U.S.

“What we’re seeing now in the last few years is loss history’s insufficient,” Larsen said. “The history that we’ve seen is insufficient to look forward and understand the risk.”

Winds Feeding California’s Largest Wildfire

It could be days before officials will be able to assess the damage done to a small town by California’s largest wildfire, one of dozens of blazes scorching lands across the U.S. West.

Over the weekend, the massive Dixie Fire roared through the remote Northern California community of Indian Falls. The blaze had already leveled at least 16 houses and other structures, but a new damage estimate wasn’t immediately available because flames were still raging in the mountain area on Monday.

“Fire behavior has been so unpredictable, it hasn’t been safe for inspectors to go in to work,” said Mitch Matlow, a fire spokesman. “Until things settle down, we won’t know the extent of what’s burned.”

Officials: Lightning Likely Caused 2020 California Forest Fire

A lightning strike likely ignited a 2020 wildfire in California’s Sierra National Forest, but the U.S. Forest Service said Friday it could not determine an official cause of the fire.

September’s Creek Fire burned 600 square miles and spread so quickly that hundreds of Labor Day holiday campers had to be rescued by a series of harrowing helicopter flights. All 214 campers were delivered safely.

Investigators did not rule out arson and lit cigarettes as the cause, but said there were no illegal marijuana grow sites nearby that could have started the fire. Forest service officials said an “undetermined” status is not uncommon with a fire this complex.

PG&E in California Will Pay to Bury Power Lines to Prevent Wildfires

California power company Pacific Gas and Electric said on Wednesday it would bury 10,000 miles of power lines in high-risk fire zones as a safety measure after its equipment caused multiple destructive wildfires over several years.

The utility, which called the project a multi-year initiative, maintains more than 25,000 miles of overhead distribution power lines in the highest fire-risk zones, or more than 30% of its total distribution overhead system, according to the company.

The move by PG&E comes days after it said its equipment may have been involved in the start of a recent wildfire in Sierra Nevada, according to a filing by PG&E to regulators published on the internet by a San Francisco Chronicle journalist.

PG&E Says Equipment Possibly Linked to Big California Wildfire

Pacific Gas & Electric reported to California utility regulators that its equipment may have been involved in the start of a fire burning in the Sierra Nevada that is threatening hundreds of homes.

PG&E said in a report Sunday to the California Public Utilities Commission that a repairman responding to a circuit outage on July 13 spotted blown fuses in a conductor atop a pole, a tree leaning into the conductor and fire at the base of the tree.

The utility said its system showed around 7 a.m. that the Cresta Dam off Highway 70 had lost power but because of the steep, rough terrain, the worker sent to check it couldn’t reach the area until nearly 5 p.m.

In the Face of a Severe California Wildfire Season, is The Oft-Used ‘Mitigation’ Word Too Little Too Late?

It may have been around 2017 when a true sense of urgency donned on insurers, public officials, residents and regulators in wildfire-prone California, as fires destroyed or damaged more than 10,000 structures in the state, a higher tally than the previous nine years combined.

In terms of property damage, 2017 was the most destructive wildfire season on record in California at the time, with 9,133 fires burning more than 1.2 million acres, and it was after 2017 that the word “mitigation” seemed to appear more prominently and more often in public messaging about wildfires – along with news of warnings about rising homeowners insurance rates, increasing non-renewals, and of course climate change.

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