More Than 1,000 Californians May Have Died from Wildfire Smoke

(TNS) - SAN JOSE, Calif. — The heavy smoke from wildfires that choked much of California in recent weeks was more than an inconvenience.

It was deadly. And it almost certainly killed more people than the flames from the massive fires themselves, health experts say.

Between Aug. 1 and Sept. 10, the historically bad concentrations of wildfire smoke were responsible for at least 1,200 and possibly up to 3,000 deaths in California that otherwise would not have occurred, according to an estimate by researchers at Stanford University. Those fatalities were among people age 65 and over, most of whom were living with pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and respiratory ailments.

California Wildfire Threatening More Than 1,000 Homes

A wildfire burning through brush and timber from the mountains to the desert northeast of Los Angeles threatened more than 1,000 homes on Tuesday as crews across the West battled dozens of other major blazes.

The Bobcat Fire in Southern California was advancing at one to two miles per hour at times and threatened the Mojave Desert town of Pearblossom after burning into the Antelope Valley foothill area, across the San Gabriel Mountains from Los Angeles.

The blaze that began Sept. 6 has destroyed or damaged at least 29 homes and other buildings, with the toll rising to perhaps 85 when damage assessment teams can complete their work this week, authorities said.

Fire Weather May Improve for Pacific Northwest, No Such Luck for Tinderbox California

Rains may bring some reprieve to those suffering from massive blazes in the Pacific Northwest in the next few weeks, but forecasters don’t expect any help for wildfire-plagued California anytime soon.

That’s according to briefing call on Friday morning held by AccuWeather and Plume Labs looking at weather and air quality forecasts for the remainder of this year’s wildfire season.

Residents in the Golden State have been living for weeks with grayish, choking air and widespread ash from North to South, with numerous lives lost and thousands of evacuations, while hundreds of thousands have been on evacuation alerts in Washington and Oregon from numerous wildfires.

At Least 10 Dead and 26 Missing in Northern California Wildfire

(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.

Californians Finding Themselves in Some of the Unhealthiest Weather

(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.

Record 2 Million Acres Burned in California Wildfires

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.

Northern California Bear Fire Explodes to 250,000 Acres, Destroying Community

(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.”

California’s Creek Fire an ‘Unprecedented Disaster' as it Eclipses 135,000 Acres

(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.

California Burns, Winds Kick up And Power Outages Follow

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.

California Wildfire Bills Expire as Legislature Recesses, But One Bill Expected to Return

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.

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