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.”

California Workers’ Comp Written Premium Down 13%, Report Shows

California workers’ compensation written premium for the first quarter of 2021 was 13% below that for the first quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly experience report issued on Wednesday by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California.

The WCIRB report is an update on California statewide insurer experience valued as of March 31.

California Requiring Vaccine or Testing for State Workers

California will require millions of health care workers and state employees to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or get tested weekly, announcing a broad measure this week to try to slow rising coronavirus infections in the nation’s most populous state, mostly among the unvaccinated.

The new rule, to take effect next month, is the latest example of California and politically progressive cities nationwide cracking down on a virus that has upended life since March 2020. New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced a similar plan Monday that requires 340,000 city employees, including teachers and police officers, to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing.

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.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - External News