FIRE SCIENTISTS ARE CONFIDENT: THIS WILL GET WORSE

❝ As of July 31, more than 25,000 firefighters are committed to 140 wildfires across the United States—over a million acres aflame. Eight people are dead in California, tens of thousands evacuated, smoke and pyroclastic clouds are visible from space. And all any fire scientist knows for sure is, it only gets worse from here. How much worse? Where? For whom? Experience can’t tell them. The scientists actually are uncertain.

❝ Scientists who help policymakers plan for the future used to make an assumption. They called it stationarity, and the idea was that the extremes of environmental systems—rainfall, river levels, hurricane strength, wildfire damage—obeyed prior constraints. The past was prologue. Climate change has turned that assumption to ash…

❝ Wildfires were always part of a complex system. Climate change—carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases raising the overall temperature of the planet—added to the complexity. The implications of that will play out for millennia. “On top of that is interaction between the climate system, the ecosystem, and how we manage our land use,” Westerling says. “That intersection is very complex, and even more difficult to predict. When I say there’s no new normal, I mean it. The climate will be changing with probably an accelerating pace for the rest of the lives of everyone who is alive today.”

Fools who voted for Trump not only fooled themselves – they have condemned their children, grandchildren and generations to come to the new holocaust.

59 thoughts on “FIRE SCIENTISTS ARE CONFIDENT: THIS WILL GET WORSE

  1. McLeod says:

    The California Legislature voted Friday to allow power companies to raise electric bills to cover the cost of lawsuits from last year’s deadly wildfires amid fears that Pacific Gas & Electric Co., would otherwise face financial ruin. (PBS 8/1/18) https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/california-approves-measure-to-pass-on-wildfire-costs
    Study shows health, reaction-time declines in firefighters (A/P 9/1/18) https://apnews.com/498fcf4809634da49dd02a0e605e9c82/Study-shows-health,-reaction-time-declines-in-firefighters Some 19,000 firefighters are currently in the field fighting nearly 40 large wildfires. Fourteen firefighters have died this year as wildfires have scorched about 3,500 square miles (9,000 square kilometers) and destroyed some 3,000 homes.
    “California has 129 million dead trees spread across 8.9 million acres. That’s a huge wildfire risk but no one can afford to cut them all down.” https://www.vox.com/2018/9/1/17800358/california-mendocino-wildfire-dead-trees “…Already, more than 876,000 acres have burned in California, compared to 228,000 last year at the same time. The Mendocino Complex Fire, now almost fully contained at more than 459,000 acres, is the single largest fire on record in state history. The largest fire before that, the Thomas Fire, was just put out in January this year.
    These recent fires have barely made a dent in the glut of dead trees, CalFire says, and peak fire season in Southern California is still to come later this year.”

    • p/s says:

      “The Southern California Edison utility company says its electrical equipment is at least partly to blame for starting the deadly Thomas Fire last year that engulfed hundreds of thousands of acres as it swept through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.” (NPR 10/31/18) https://www.npr.org/2018/10/31/662399218/southern-california-edison-says-it-is-partly-to-blame-for-thomas-fire “The company says it is cooperating with investigations being conducted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Ventura County Fire Department and the California Public Utilities Commission’s Safety & Enforcement Division.
      These agencies have yet to release an official cause of the fire. The Los Angeles Times reports they hope to do so by the end of November.
      The Thomas Fire had been the largest in California’s modern history until it was superseded last summer by the even larger Mendocino Complex Fire. The Thomas Fire devastated more than 280,000 acres — or more than 430 square miles — of coastal foothills and forests.
      …the fire also led to deadly mudslides that killed at least 17.

      • Big Ernie says:

        Wildfire Today, November 12, 2018: “Pacific Gas & Electric disclosed to the Public Utilities Commission that one of their high voltage power lines had a disruption in service on Pulga Road near the Camp Fire at 6:15 a.m. the day it started, November 8. The fire was reported at 6:29 a.m. In the following days the stock price plunged 33 percent.” https://wildfiretoday.com/2018/11/12/fire-officials-release-list-of-structures-burned-in-camp-fire/
        NYT: “Trump’s Misleading Claims About California’s Fire ‘Mismanagement’ : On Twitter, the president claimed that the state’s wildfire woes are a result of poor forest management. The truth is more complicated.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/12/us/politics/fact-check-trump-california-fire-tweet.html
        NPR: “California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has asked the White House for a “major disaster declaration,” hit back at the president on Sunday during a news conference. He said forest management is only one element of preventing forest fires.
        “Managing all the forests in every way we can does not stop climate change and those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we are now witnessing and will continue to witness,” Brown said.” https://www.npr.org/2018/11/12/666951838/megafires-more-frequent-because-of-climate-change-and-forest-management

        • Actuary says:

          “Trading in PG&E Corp. was briefly halted Monday after shares dropped more than 37 percent. The stock has fallen as much as 48 percent in two days of trading since the ignition of the fire, which has now destroyed more than 7,000 structures and killed at least 42 people.” (San Francisco Chronicle 11/12/18) https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/PG-E-stock-hammered-on-wildfire-fallout-13384830.php PG&E was Monday’s worst-performing stock on the S&P 500 Index. “PG&E could face as much as $5 billion in liabilities from the Camp Fire …as of Monday morning, the Camp Fire’s perimeter encompassed 11,421 homes with a total worth of nearly $3 billion – not including commercial structures, of which 260 have been destroyed, according to state fire officials. Reportedly the destruction already tallied reflects “severe wildfire-related credit risks” for PG&E and its parent company and the Camp Fire has also exposed shortcomings in recently enacted state legislation, SB901, which was designed to lessen the utility’s risks associated with last year’s fires but offers no protection for potential liabilities from fires this year. Any liability associated with the Camp Fire would come on top of last year’s deadly fires that could cost as much as $17.3 billion, according to a JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimate. State investigators have already determined PG&E equipment caused at least 16 California wildfires last year. But the utility is still awaiting a state report on the cause of the Tubbs Fire, the deadliest and most destructive of the 2017 Wine Country wildfires. That fire destroyed more than 5,600 structures as it leveled entire neighborhoods in and around Santa Rosa and was until last week California’s most destructive wildfire as measured by loss of buildings.”
          [the financial value of the human lives that were lost in these fires remain to be determined].

    • 2Big2Fail says:

      “Protesters Demand an End to Bailouts for California Company That May Have Caused Wildfires” https://splinternews.com/protesters-demand-an-end-to-bailouts-for-california-com-1830759606 Protesters took over a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) meeting on power company PG&E’s safety culture Thursday morning, responding to the company’s possible role in starting the Camp Fire, SF Weekly reports. The hearing was part of a three year investigation into PG&E’s safety practices by the CPUC.

  2. Cassandra says:

    Ecosystems across the world will dramatically transform as climate change’s effects increase, a new study published in the journal Science warns. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-environment/2018/09/01/climate-change-could-transform-arizona-forests-deserts-environment-study/1148294002/ The study says human-caused climate change could accelerate changes in vegetation around the globe, filling lush forests with flammable brush and worsening drought conditions where relief is needed most.
    “We’re talking about the same amount of change in 10-to-20 thousand years that’s going to be crammed into a century or two,” Stephen T. Jackson, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Southwest Climate Adaptation Center and co-author of the new study, said in a statement. “Ecosystems are going to be scrambling to catch up.”
    (Includes link to “Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change” in Science 31 Aug 2018)

  3. Worser says:

    “Raging wildfires send scientists scrambling to study health effects : Blazes have created natural experiments in Montana and California towns and a monkey-breeding colony.” (Nature 9/7/18) https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06123-8 “Record-setting wildfires have burnt through northern California over the past month, blanketing huge swathes of the western United States in a smoky haze and destroying an area larger than London. Now scientists are hoping that the fiery summer will help them determine whether exposure to wildfire smoke damages health over the long term.
    Finding answers is becoming more urgent because the behavior of wildfires — in the United States and elsewhere — is expected to shift in the coming decades. Climate models predict that many more people worldwide will be exposed to toxic smoke as these blazes become more common and intense. US wildfires already produce about one-third of the country’s particulate-matter pollution, airborne particles that are small enough to enter and damage human lung tissue.
    …Researchers are also beginning to untangle how the composition of material burnt during a wildfire affects the body. Smoke from burning pine needles damaged the DNA of mice in a recent EPA study more than smoke from burning plastic did; burning eucalyptus was the most toxic to immune cells found in the animals’ lungs.”

  4. Hazel Hoe says:

    “Interstate 5, one of the country’s busiest roadways, stretching nearly 1,400 miles from Mexico to Canada, will remain closed indefinitely for a 45-mile stretch through fire-ravaged northern California.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/09/09/delta-fire-interstate-5-indefinitely-closed-northern-california/1252616002/ “The raging Delta Fire, which chased motorists from their vehicles and left a trail of burned-out vehicles in its wake last week, forcing state authorities to close I-5 on Wednesday afternoon, continued to burn mostly out of control on Sunday in Shasta and Trinity counties. It had burned 40,903 acres, according to InciWeb’s 7 p.m. PST update, and was listed at 5 percent containment.”

    • Hey, Rube! says:

      “As California’s Wildfires Raged, The Ultra-Rich Hired Private Firefighters : Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were among those able to save their homes. But whether or not your home burns down shouldn’t depend on wealth.” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-wildfires-neoliberalism-climate-change_us_5bec0d2ce4b0caeec2c012a0 Under capitalism, wealth has always been a determining factor for life outcomes. “The wealthiest among us have access to better hospitals, better schools, better grocery stores ― the list could go on for quite some time. Despite our societal penchant for privatized services only available at a premium, though, there are certain realms that remain strictly removed from market forces. Or at least, we thought they were.”

  5. Déjà Vu says:

    BBC News (11/9/18): California wildfires: Five dead and more than 150,000 evacuated https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46155767 Fast-moving wildfires prompted tens of thousands of evacuations in both Northern and Southern California, including the entire beachside city of Malibu, sending residents fleeing for their lives on short notice.
    The largest inferno, sparked Thursday morning in Northern California, prompted numerous evacuations, including several entire towns. By late Thursday, it became apparent that the entire town of Paradise, a town of 27,000 people north of Sacramento, had been entirely destroyed by the Camp fire. https://weather.com/news/news/2018-11-09-california-wildfire-camp-fire-impacts/
    A NASA photo of Northern California this morning – the town of Paradise is located in the black center https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DrlMJH-V4AAf5oj.jpg

    • McLeod says:

      Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 12:08 AM – 10 Nov 2018:
      “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

      • 1 Corinthians 3:13 says:

        “The Day the Great Plains Burned : Alerts had been going out for weeks that conditions in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas were perfect for wildfires. On March 6, 2017, the prairie went up in flames. (The New Yorker Nov 5, 2018 issue) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/11/05/the-day-the-great-plains-burned “A megafire is considered to be one that burns more than a hundred thousand acres. In Oklahoma, the total burned in the March 6th fires was seven hundred and eighty-one thousand acres. In the Texas Panhandle, fires burned four hundred and eighty-two thousand acres. Seven people are thought to have died in the March 6th fires. The expanse of burned land on the south-central Great Plains amounted to almost two million acres—roughly three thousand square miles. Rhode Island, that useful state for comparing geographic measure, covers about a thousand square miles of land. The March 6th fires burned an area about the size of three Rhode Islands.
        When the prairie is tinder-dry and winds blow at fifty-plus miles an hour, conditions are perfect for wildfires.
        Extreme weather has always occurred on the plains. What is new, and derives from climate change, is that the atmosphere has become hotter and wetter, bringing more rain, causing wetter years (2016, for example), which produce more fuel in the form of grass. As the atmosphere warms, it is also thirstier, so that when dry periods come the air sucks more moisture from the soil and the plants and makes the land more susceptible to fire.

        • McLeod says:

          A Sea Of Sagebrush Disappears, Making Way For Fire-Prone Cheatgrass (NPR 5/30/19) https://www.npr.org/2019/05/30/725713849/a-sea-of-sagebrush-disappears-making-way-for-fire-prone-cheatgrass “For many, the word “wildfire” brings to mind images of flaming tree tops and blackened stumps. But we should actually be picturing sagebrush on fire. In the past two decades, nearly 75 percent of all acres burned in the west were rangelands — not forest. Hundreds of thousands of acres — home to rural ranching communities and endangered sage grouse — are going up in flames each year.
          … Those rangeland fires may not make national news very often, but they tell a story of a landscape that is changing profoundly.”

      • WRONG says:

        “President Trump’s visit Saturday to the fire-ravaged California town of Paradise seemed to be going fine, until he began explaining his understanding of forest policy. Apparently, California needs to buy more rakes.
        “You gotta take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important,” Trump told reporters, as Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom stood nearby. “You look at other countries where they do it differently and it’s a whole different story. I was with the president of Finland and he called it a forest nation, and they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things and they don’t have any problem. And when they do, it’s a very small problem.”
        Trump appeared to be talking about the need to thin forests that are overgrown from decades of fire suppression, something that Brown accelerated this fall when he signed a law approving $1 billion in state money over the next five years for forest thinning projects and controlled burns. Trump did not mention the role of drought or climate change in drying out the state’s forests, or power lines. Or the fact that many of the fires, particularly in Southern California, aren’t burning in forests at all, but in chaparral, or that fact that this one began in an area of federal land, the Plumas National Forest.
        His communications staff immediately cut off further questions.”
        San Jose Mercury News https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/11/17/trump-mocked-online-for-telling-california-to-rake-its-forests-like-finland-to-reduce-fire-risk/
        USFS firefighting mules: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=ww7wK2YSOHw

  6. Cassandra says:

    “The Terrifying Science Behind California’s Massive Camp Fire : It used to be that fires destroyed exurbs or scattered enclaves. Now they plow through cities.” (WIRED 11/9/18) https://www.wired.com/story/the-terrifying-science-behind-californias-massive-camp-fire/
    This is what a climate change reckoning looks like. “All of it is embedded in the background trend of things getting warmer,” Lareau [Neil Lareau, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Nevada, Reno] says. “The atmosphere as it gets warmer is thirstier.” Like a giant atmospheric mosquito, climate change is sucking California dry.
    The consequence is fires of unprecedented, almost unimaginable scale. California cities are no longer safe from fire, and with climate change, things are only bound to get worse from here. Consider that seven of the 20 most destructive fires in state history have burned just in the last year.”

  7. Now will be then later says:

    “California Wildfires Are A Bigger Public Health Nightmare Than Anyone Imagined : The flames and smoke from the Camp fire ripping through Northern California ― a record-breaking catastrophe that has claimed at least 63 lives with more than 600 people still missing ― is the public health crisis that climate change researchers have been warning about.” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-wildfires-public-health_us_5bef0747e4b0f7192ca93d1c

  8. Clean sweep says:

    “Secretary Zinke issues misleading information about wildfire risk : incorrectly said a beetle infestation leads to an added risk for fire” https://wildfiretoday.com/2018/11/21/secretary-zinke-issues-misleading-information-about-wildfire-risk/
    “In 2015 University of Colorado Boulder researcher Sarah Hart determined Western U.S. forests killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic are no more at risk to burn than healthy Western forests. Other scientists have found similar results.”
    See “Effects of bark beetle-caused tree mortality on wildfire” https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/journals/pnw_2012_hicke001.pdf
    In addition, the “dead and dying timber” as a result of fires or insects that Mr. Zinke wants to remove is an integral part of the forest ecosystem. The National Wildlife Federation says, “Dead trees provide vital habitat for more than 1,000 species of wildlife nationwide. They also count as cover and places for wildlife to raise young.” https://www.nwf.org/en/Garden-for-Wildlife/Cover/Trees-and-Snags
    An article at The Hill November 20 covers how Mr. Zinke and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue are hoping that the new version of the Farm Bill will allow more logging that among other objectives, “beautifies the forests”, as Mr. Zinke is quoted as saying. https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/417663-trump-officials-cite-california-fires-in-renewing-call-for-forest

  9. Fallout says:

    “California’s deadliest wildfire is blamed in lawsuit on faulty utility transmission tower : A lawsuit claims the Camp Fire, which killed at least 88 people, was started by a faulty transmission tower that brought dangerous live wires crashing down.” https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/california-s-deadliest-wildfire-blamed-lawsuit-faulty-utility-transmission-tower-n944811
    “Insurance company overwhelmed by cost of California wildfire, goes out of business : It was facing $64 million in fire-related claims.” https://thinkprogress.org/cost-of-california-wildfire-has-caused-an-insurance-company-to-go-out-of-business-47af82955e80/ Individuals who need to file claims due to the fire shouldn’t be affected though — the California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA) will assume any outstanding claims. The CIGA was created by state law to protect policy holders in such a situation. However, there may be a limit to the amount a policyholder is able to claim. (see https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=INS&division=1.&title=&part=2.&chapter=1.&article=14.2. )

  10. Red Queen says:

    “Trump threatens to halt disaster aid to California fire victims : The president threatened to halt the FEMA’s assistance to victims unless the state changes its forest management practices.” (PropertyCasualty360 1/9/19) https://www.propertycasualty360.com/2019/01/09/trump-threatens-to-halt-disaster-aid-to-california/ “Trump’s own agencies are responsible for managing much of the woodland in the state. The federal government owns 57% of the state’s forests, according to data from the University of California. Another 40% is held by companies, Native American tribes or families.” (that being the case California is responsible for managing 3% of the forested land in the state).
    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 7:25 AM – 9 Jan 2019: “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”
    See also 2018 Californai Wildfires https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_California_wildfires

  11. Bill comes due says:

    California Wildfire Insurance Claims Total $11.4 Billion For November 2018 (NPR 1/28/19) https://www.npr.org/2019/01/28/689494921/california-wildfire-insurance-claims-total-11-4-billion-for-november-2018
    PG&E, owner of biggest US power utility, files for bankruptcy after California wildfires (CNN 1/29/19) https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/29/business/pge-bankruptcy-fires/index.html “PG&E has been linked to a series of wildfires in California, including the Camp Fire, which caused 86 deaths and destroyed 14,000 homes, along with more than 500 businesses and 4,300 other buildings. The company needs to use the bankruptcy process — which will allow it to shed some of its debt — to pay for damages and stay in business. PG&E said Tuesday it was seeking approval for a $5.5 billion debtor-in-possession financing agreement. Previously, it said in a filing that it has only about $1.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hand.
    PG&E listed assets of $71.39 billion and liabilities of $51.69 billion, in a court document filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California.

    • p/s says:

      In a statement on Thursday, California utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) told investors that it would take a $10.5 billion charge related to the deadly Camp Fire that burned through Northern California in November of last year. (Ars Technica 2/28/19) https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/02/pge-its-likely-our-equipment-was-ignition-point-for-deadly-camp-fire/ “Although the cause of the 2018 Camp Fire is still under investigation, based on the information currently known to the company and reported to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and other agencies, the company believes it is probable that its equipment will be determined to be an ignition point of the 2018 Camp Fire,” PG&E told investors.
      Some of the components in PG&E’s Caribou-Palermo 115 kilovolt (kV) transmission line, which is thought to have been responsible for starting the fire, are nearly a century old and date back to when the line was installed in 1921. PG&E’s Thursday announcement also included a $1 billion charge related to wildfires that its equipment caused in Northern California in 2017.

      • Update says:

        Utility giant PG&E has agreed to a second large settlement over devastating Northern California wildfires, saying it will pay $11 billion to resolve most insurance claims from the wine country fires in 2017 and massive Camp Fire in 2018.
        The utility says the tentative deal with a group of insurers covers about 85% of claims from those fires. While the $11 billion sum is large, it’s far smaller than the roughly $20 billion that the insurance companies wanted, after paying out billions to California wildfire victims.
        The settlement will require the approval of a bankruptcy court, as PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January and recently entered into a Chapter 11 reorganization plan.
        In June, PG&E announced it would pay $1 billion to 18 local governments and agencies affected by three large wildfires: the 2015 Butte Fire, the 2017 North Bay Fires and the Camp Fire. Butte County and Paradise will receive more than $500 million of that amount.
        PG&E still faces a third large group of legal claims from individual plaintiffs, whose cases are pending in federal and state courts. https://www.npr.org/2019/09/13/760479525/pg-e-to-pay-11-billion-insurance-settlement-over-wildfires-in-paradise-and-elsew

  12. McLeod says:

    “More Wildfires Bring Focus On How All That Smoke May Harm Firefighters” (NPR June 12, 2019) https://www.npr.org/2019/06/12/731435003/more-wildfires-bring-focus-on-how-all-that-smoke-may-harm-firefighters “The hazards have long been known for those who fight fires in buildings. Studies have shown they face elevated risk for cancer, heart and lung disease, and even mental health issues, says Rick Swan, a 30-year veteran of CalFire, and health and safety director with the International Association of Firefighters, a labor union.
    But wildland firefighters have largely been left out of the research.
    Now it’s known that forest fire smoke is full of compounds and components that are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
    Wildland firefighters and crews are exposed to fine particulate matter that can absorb deep into the lungs. They breathe carbon monoxide that can cause a significant and immediate loss in cognitive function.
    In addition, there are a host of other toxins such as acrolein, nitrogen dioxide, benzene and formaldehyde in the smoke. There’s also the potential for exposure to smoke laced with chemicals from herbicides that were applied to forests before they caught fire.
    Researchers with the U.S. Joint Fire Science Program have found that workers are exposed to the highest levels of particulate matter when they’re holding fire lines and working mop-up after a fire has burned through.
    And the smoke exposure often doesn’t end at the fire zone.”

    • Stover says:

      Fire investigators are looking at a power line as a possible ignition point for the Saddle Ridge Fire that burned 7,965 acres and 21 structures on the north side of Los Angeles. (see map)
      At least two residents of Sylmar said they first saw the fire at the base of a transmission tower. Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said Friday night that he was aware of those reports, and, “We believe that witness, and someone else who said something similar.” The Southern California Edison power line had not been shut off during the Santa Ana wind event. https://wildfiretoday.com/2019/10/13/powerline-investigated-as-possible-source-of-saddle-ridge-fire/ One person died during the fire.

  13. Daniel 5:5 says:

    “PG&E fire-preventing power shutoffs could continue for a decade, CEO says” https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/19/us/pge-power-shut-off-fires-ten-years/index.html
    Utility PG&E chief executive Bill Johnson made the announcement during a California Public Utilities Commission meeting Friday. In a statement issued later, he tried to provide additional clarification.
    “I didn’t mean to say we’d be doing it on this scale for 10 years. I think they’ll decrease in size and scope every year,” Johnson said in a statement.
    Any of PG&E’s 5 million electric customers can be affected by the practice known as Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), which cuts electricity to avoid causing fires during high winds and dry conditions.
    California Public Utilities Commission said it held the emergency meeting specifically to hear from PG&E’s executives regarding “the mistakes and operational gaps identified in the utility’s latest Public Safety Power Shut-off (PSPS) events and to provide lessons learned to ensure they are not repeated.”
    Earlier this month, PG&E shut off power to almost 800,000 customers in Northern California to lower the risk of wildfires started by the company’s equipment. The outage racked up a bill of at least half a million dollars for the city of San Jose and disrupted schools and businesses.

    As the environment changes, “dealing with wildfires is the new abnormal within California,” PG&E’s Sumeet Singh told reporters at the time. https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/12/us/california-power-outage-fires-new-abnormal/index.html

  14. Update says:

    California’s bankrupt power producer PG&E Corp (PCG.N) said on Friday it had reached a $13.5 billion settlement with victims of some of most devastating wildfires in the state’s modern history. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-wildfire-pg-e-us/bankrupt-pge-reaches-13-5-billion-settlement-with-california-wildfire-victims-idUSKBN1YB03M
    The agreement helps smooth the way for the beleaguered company to emerge from bankruptcy. It filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, citing potential liabilities in excess of $30 billion from wildfires in 2017 and 2018 linked to its equipment.

  15. McLeod says:

    Witness panel is set for June 9 Congressional hearing about COVID-19 and firefighting https://wildfiretoday.com/2020/06/05/witness-panel-set-for-june-9-congressional-hearing-about-covid-19-and-firefighting/
    The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing will be webcast live on the committee’s website https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2020/6/full-committee-hearing-on-wildfire-management-in-the-midst-of-covid-19 beginning at 10 a.m. EDT June 9, 2020 and an archived video will be available shortly after the conclusion. Written witness testimony will be available on the website at the start of the hearing.

    “…Obviously this year the issue of fighting fire during the pandemic will come up. Another possible topic is accountability and lack of transparency for how decisions are made about contracting for firefighting aircraft and how taxpayers’ dollars are being used. Are they being spent wisely? When will they release the Aerial Firefighting Use and Effectiveness Study that has been going on for eight years? Launched in 2012 at a cost of about $1.3 million annually, the study is supposed to quantify the effectiveness of the various types of fixed and rotor wing aircraft used on wildfires. In FY 2017 for example, the most recent year with exact numbers available, the agency spent over half a billion dollars on fire aviation; $507,000,000. If ever completed the AFUE study could make it possible to answer the question: “What are the best mixes of aircraft to do any fire suppression job?” Data collected from this study and other sources would be used to inform decisions about the composition of the interagency wildland firefighting aircraft fleet — to use the best, most efficient, and effective tools for the job.” [see links] https://wildfiretoday.com/tag/afue/

  16. Big Ernie says:

    A time-lapse camera at Atlas Peak in Napa County, California recorded the moment a wind shift caused by a passing thunderstorm August 17, 2020 suddenly changed the direction the Hennessey Fire was spreading.
    A passing thunderstorm changed the wind direction on the Yarnell Hill Fire June 30, 2013 entrapping and killing 19 firefighters. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarnell_Hill_Fire

  17. Bob says:

    A stunning, sudden surge of wildfires is burning through California, threatening towns and sending choking smoke over major cities and across much of the United States. It’s creating an epic compounding disaster whose ingredients have been brewing for years. https://www.vox.com/2020/8/21/21377181/california-wildfire-2020-coronavirus-covid-19-heat-scu-lnu-lightning-complex-climate
    Staggering footage of lightning storm that started Bay Area fire complexes

  18. Stover says:

    Two California wildfires now rank among largest in state’s history, and they are still growing https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/08/22/california-wildfires-largest/
    President Donald Trump on Thursday blamed California for its raging wildfires and threatened to withhold federal money, reprising his attacks from previous rounds of catastrophic blazes.
    “I see again the forest fires are starting,” he said at a rally in swing-state Pennsylvania. “They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up.”
    “Maybe we’re just going to have to make them pay for it because they don’t listen to us,” he added. https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2020/08/20/trump-blames-california-for-wildfires-tells-state-you-gotta-clean-your-floors-1311059
    Wildfires, blackouts, anger: California shows us the future of climate change : The damage we’ve done through greenhouse gas emissions is not something we can turn off. It’s done. We can only act so it doesn’t get worse than this. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2020/08/21/california-forest-fires-storm-climate-change-david-callaway-column/3404346001/

    A model simulation of smoke from wildfires in California through Saturday 8/22/20. (NOAA)

  19. McLeod says:

    The West, despite a few days of intense winter, is far drier than it was leading up to last year’s record-breaking fires. https://wildfiretoday.com/2021/03/22/opinion-we-need-to-act-now-to-fight-wildfires/
    Drought levels often serve as a good indicator of the fires to come, and things are far worse now than they were in the build-up to 2020. Rich Tinker, an author of the U.S. Drought Monitor at the Climate Prediction Center, told me, “In 2020, the highest we got to anywhere, was a D2 — Severe Drought. Now we are looking at D3 — D4 — Extreme and Exceptional Drought across much of the West and almost all of the Southwest.”
    …Jerry Williams, former fire and aviation director for the U.S. Forest Service, puts it best about our stubborn wrongheadedness: “Every year we set a new record, we invest more in (fire) suppression, invest less in mitigation and wonder why we’re not getting on top of it.” If someone who directed the largest wildland firefighting force in the world makes this statement, it’s probably time to try something else.
    Every dollar spent on prevention saves $17 in suppression, according to a report from former Utah Gov. Gary R Herbert. “Catastrophic Wildfire Reduction Strategy” https://ffsl.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/CatFireFinalReport120213.pdf

    • Heads up says:

      ‘This has never happened’: California’s only wildfire research center makes scary discovery
      https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/fuel-moisture-content-California-wildfire-16087019.php

      SJSU FireWeatherLab@FireWeatherLab Apr 5
      Fire season 2021 is looking grim. Our region’s FMCs [Fuel Moisture Content] are tracking lower than the minimum– a new record low. This is caused by the lack/delay of new growth. Average is 137%, low is 115%, 2021= 97% #wildfire #CAwx @wildfirecenter

      FMC refers to “fuel-moisture content” — a measure of the ratio of moisture to combustible material in plants that indicates how prone they are to burning. To measure the FMC, Clements said researchers weigh the “wet” samples, dry them for 24 hours and then weigh them again to get the dry weight. They often use clippings from chamise, one of the most widespread plants in California’s chaparral landscape. They also sample from manzanita trees, another California native.
      The concept may sound complicated, but it’s actually simple. When the fuel moisture is high because plants are lush and water-filled, wildfires don’t ignite and spread easily. When it’s low because vegetation is dry, parched, even dead, wildfires start easily and spread rapidly.
      This year the fuel-moisture content across the Santa Cruz Mountains is terrifyingly low as the state moves out of a second, consecutive rainy season marked by dry conditions. The 2020-2021 winter was the third driest on record, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The region’s reservoirs are beginning to see the impact and are at half their total capacity.

        • McLeod says:

          A list of some of the fires attributed to PG&E powerline equipment (April 6, 2021) https://wildfiretoday.com/2021/04/06/a-list-of-some-of-the-fires-attributed-to-pge-powerline-equipment/ (links in article)
          “In light of the charges recently filed against Pacific Gas and Electric for the role their equipment played in starting the 2019 Kincade Fire in Northern California, we dug through some records showing the significant part the company has played in starting numerous wildfires over the last decade.”
          The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reported that investigators attributed more than 1,500 fires to PG&E power lines and hardware between June 2014 and December 2017.
          CAL FIRE attributed 12 fires that started in Northern California on October 8 and 9, 2017 to PG&E power equipment.
          Below are some of the fires attributed to PG&E between 1999 and 2020. It is not a complete or comprehensive list.
          Zogg Fire, September, 2020, 56,338 acres, destroyed 204 structures, and caused the deaths of four people.
          Kincade Fire, October, 2019, 77,000 acres, and destroyed 374 structures.
          Camp Fire, November , 2018, 154,000 acres, destroyed 18,000 structures, and caused the deaths of 84 people. The company pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
          Cascade Fire, October 2017, 9,989 acres, destroyed 250 structures, and caused the deaths of five people, including one firefighter.
          Redwood Valley Fire, October, 2017, 36,523 acres, destroyed 543 structures, and caused the deaths of 9 people.
          Sulphur Fire, October, 2017, 2,207 acres, destroyed 162 structures.
          Cherokee Fire, October, 2017, 8,417 acres, destroyed 6 structures.
          37 Fire, October, 2017, 1,660 acres, destroyed 3 structures.
          Blue Fire, October, 2017, 20 acres.
          Norrbom, Adobe, Partrick, Pythian and Nuns Fires burned together, 56,556 acres, destroyed 1,255 structures, and caused the deaths of 3 people.
          Pocket Fire, October, 2017, 17,357 acres, destroyed 783 structures.
          Atlas Fire, October, 2017, 51,624 acres, destroyed 783 structures, and caused the deaths of 6 people.
          Butte Fire, September 2015, 70,868 acres, destroyed a total of 921 structures, including 549 homes, 368 outbuildings, and 4 commercial properties, and caused the deaths of two people.
          Pendola Fire, October, 1999, 11,725 acres.

  20. McLeod says:

    Climate change leads to unprecedented Rocky Mountain wildfires (University of Wyoming June 14, 2021) https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-06/uow-ccl061421.php
    “Global warming is causing larger fires in Rocky Mountain forests than have burned for thousands of years,” says Bryan Shuman, a professor in the UW Department of Geology and Geophysics. “The last time anything similar may have occurred was during a warm portion of the medieval era.”
    Shuman was the main co-author of a paper, titled “Rocky Mountain Subalpine Forests Now Burning More Than Any Time in Recent Millennia,” that was published today (June 14) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). https://www.pnas.org/content/118/25/e2103135118

    • p/s says:

      “Forest fires have crept higher up mountains over the past few decades, scorching areas previously too wet to burn, according to researchers from McGill University. As wildfires advance uphill, a staggering 11% of all Western U.S. forests are now at risk.”
      https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-06/mu-mfb061721.php
      “Climate change and drought conditions in the West are drying out high-elevation forests, making them particularly susceptible to blazes,” says lead author Mohammad Reza Alizadeh, a PhD student at McGill University under the supervision of Professor Jan Adamowski. “This creates new dangers for mountain communities, with impacts on downstream water supplies and the plants and wildlife that call these forests home.”
      “Warming enabled upslope advance in western US forest fires” was published on June 1, 2021 in in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. https://www.pnas.org/content/118/22/e2009717118

  21. Update says:

    The largest wildfire in the US torched more dry forest landscape in Oregon on Sunday, one of dozens of major blazes burning across the west as critically dangerous fire weather loomed in the coming days.
    The destructive Bootleg Fire just north of the California border grew to more than 476 sq miles (1,210 sq km), an area about the size of Los Angeles. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/18/the-largest-wildfire-in-the-us-has-torched-more-dry-forest-landscape
    There were about 70 active large fires and complexes of multiple blazes that have burned nearly 1,659 sq miles in the US, the National Interagency Fire Center said. The US Forest Service said at least 16 major fires were burning in the Pacific north-west alone. https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

    • p/s says:

      The Bootleg Fire Grows to the Size of Los Angeles as Government Warns of ‘National Wildfire Crisis’ https://gizmodo.com/the-bootleg-fire-grows-to-the-size-of-los-angeles-as-go-1847318985
      On Wednesday, Forest Service Chief Victoria Christiansen sent a letter to staff outlining the dire set of circumstances the main firefighting agency faces. Among the most harrowing passages in the letter is the following:
      “We are seeing severe fire behavior that resists control efforts. Further, the seasonal forecast for the entire Western United States remains extremes for the next several months. We expect demand for resources to outpace resource availability, and our workforce remains fatigued and in need of recovery following last year’s record-setting fire season, active hurricane season, and strenous efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.” https://www.fs.usda.gov/sites/default/files/2021_Wildland_Fire_Priority_Letter.pdf
      Struggling federal firefighters could see pay increase in new energy package https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/struggling-federal-firefighters-could-see-pay-increase-new-energy-package-n1274259 “These are not your grandfather’s fires. They are bigger, they’re hotter, they’re more powerful,” Sen. Ron Wyden said this week. Firefighters are currently paid just $13 per hour, which President Joe Biden called “ridiculously low.” He wants to raise it to $15 per hour
      US heatwave: Could US and Canada see the worst wildfires yet? https://www.bbc.com/news/57770728 Experts have told the BBC that due to a multi-year drought, the potential for a historic 2021 North American wildfire season is “sky-high”.
      Climate change increases the risk of the hot, dry weather that is likely to fuel wildfires.
      The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.

  22. Update says:

    “PG&E Will Bury 10,000 Miles of Cable to Stop Sparking California Wildfires : The monopoly utility has unveiled an ambitious plan to bury cables at a cost of $15-30 billion and pass the cost on to Californians.” https://www.vice.com/en/article/4avb73/pgande-will-bury-10000-miles-of-cable-to-stop-sparking-california-wildfires
    “Most fire victims are still waiting to be paid by PG&E’s Fire Victim Fund, investigation finds” https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/most-fire-victims-are-still-waiting-to-be-paid-by-pges-fire-victim-fund-investigation-finds
    “PG&E Power Line May Have Sparked Dixie Fire, Near Where Its Equipment Started State’s Deadliest Blaze” https://www.kqed.org/news/11881579/pge-power-line-may-have-sparked-dixie-fire-near-where-its-equipment-started-states-deadliest-blaze
    “Why It Took PG&E 9.5 Hours to Get to the Scene Where Dixie Fire Started” https://www.kqed.org/news/11881837/why-it-took-pge-9-5-hours-to-get-to-the-scene-where-dixie-fire-started
    “An updated damage estimate was not immediately available, though the U.S. Forest Service pinned the blaze at 190,625 acres, or 297 square miles, on Sunday. That’s nearly six times the size of San Francisco.” https://www.sfgate.com/california-wildfires/article/Dixie-Fire-Indian-Falls-California-wildfire-16338301.php

  23. Cassandra says:

    “Scientists say current wildfire situation is beyond a ‘crisis’ : Experts in wildland fire management, fire ecology and climate change weigh in with advice” https://news.ok.ubc.ca/2021/07/29/scientists-say-current-wildfire-situation-is-beyond-a-crisis/
    A team of scientists from British Columbia, the United States, and Spain say Western Canada must address the threats posed by highly destructive wildfires or face deadly consequences.
    The group has released a paper predicting billions of dollars in suppression and indirect fire costs as well as hundreds or thousands of premature deaths due to exposure to wildfire smoke if climate change and fire causes are not resolved.
    14 page white paper: https://eegs.cms.ok.ubc.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/134/2021/07/Bourbonnais_White-Paper_wildfires-and-climate-change.pdf

  24. Pattern recognition says:

    ● Pockets of the American West continued to burn over the weekend, as another nine large fires were reported on Saturday in California, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.
    The 87 fires still active in 13 states have consumed more than 1.7 million acres. Just shy of 3 million acres have been scorched since the start of 2021, with months left in what experts predict will be a devastating fire season. https://www.npr.org/2021/08/01/1023274008/western-wildfires-oregon-california-drought
    ● “Global fire crisis:” Why the world keeps burning and what we should do about it https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bring-your-own-brigade-wildfires/
    ● Tourists evacuated as wildfires continue to rage in Turkey, Italy and Greece https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/tourists-evacuated-wildfires-continue-rage-turkey-italy-greece-n1275635
    ● ‘Everything is on fire’: Siberia hit by unprecedented burning
    Locals fear for their health and property as smoke from raging forest fires shrouds an entire region of eastern Russia https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/20/everything-is-on-fire-siberia-hit-by-unprecedented-burning
    ● Australian fires had bigger impact on climate than covid-19 lockdowns in 2020 https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/07/27/australian-bushfires-smoke-climate-covid/
    ● Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia have seen a raging tsunami of fires, in what may become the longest and most destructive environmental crisis faced by the four neighboring countries. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/09/a-continent-ablaze-why-fires-are-tearing-across-south-america

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