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.

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.

California Drought Hurting World’s Top Almond Producer

As temperatures recently reached triple digits, farmer Joe Del Bosque inspected the almonds in his parched orchard in California’s agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley, where a deepening drought threatens one of the state’s most profitable crops.

Del Bosque doesn’t have enough water to properly irrigate his almond orchards, so he’s practicing “deficit irrigation” – providing less water than the trees need. He left a third of his farmland unplanted to save water for the nuts. And he may pull out 100 of his 600 acres of almond trees after the late summer harvest – years earlier than planned.

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).

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