“Perversely, the programs that were raided to pay for more firefighting were the very programs aimed at reducing the risk of big, expensive wildfires through such preventive measures as brush reduction and selective thinning of overgrown forests.”
California wildfire prompts evacuation of Angeles national forest
AP: A wildfire that broke out in the Angeles national forest has cut short the Labor Day holiday weekend for thousands of visitors to the park.
The fire broke out near a campground Sunday afternoon and quickly grew to 3,600 acres, or about five and a half square miles. It sent a huge cloud of smoke that could be seen from the coast to the desert inland.
Photo: A sky crane helicopter flies past a plume of thick smoke rising from the hills above San Gabriel mountains in the Angeles National Forest, California. (REUTERS / Gene Blevins)
Wildfire Stats in 2012
The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 2012 just broke the record for most acreage burned by wildfires as of this date (see chart below). The previous record was set in 2006, another mega-drought year.
Marines called in to help fight wildfires.
Wildfires roast western states
At least 70 large fires were burning across 13 states west of the Mississippi River, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. California had the most with 13, followed by Nevada with 12 and Idaho with 10, the center said.
The Marines joined the fight on Wednesday, with helicopter units from California joining U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units from Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina and California in fighting the fires by air. The Marine units will help fight fires around San Diego.
Fierce wildfires forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and were threatening some of Spain’s most precious natural parks, including one that is a UNESCO world heritage site, officials said Sunday.
Fires on the Canary islands of La Gomera and Tenerife led to the evacuation of more than 4,000 residents beginning late Saturday and the cutting off of many roads as precautionary measures, the regional government said. By mid-afternoon Sunday, residents were still not allowed to return to 18 towns and villages that had been evacuated, eight on the popular tourist island of Tenerife and 10 on La Gomera, the government said.
A statement said firefighting crews working on the islands were “finding it difficult to limit the spread of fire.”
(Photo: Sarah Phipps / AP)
Updated at 5:55 p.m ET: At least 121 structures, many of them homes, have been destroyed by wildfires in Oklahoma, officials said Saturday as temperatures topped 100 degrees for a 19th straight day.
New evacuations were under way Saturday as well: Included were the entire towns of Glencoe, population of around 600, and Mannford, population about 3,000, and surrounding areas. Thousands were on the move as a fire spread quickly in Creek County, 20 miles west of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.
In the four months since March there has been a jump in U.S. citizens’ belief that climate change is taking place, especially among independent voters and those in southern states such as Texas, which is now in its second year of record drought, according to nationwide polls by the University of Texas.
In a poll taken July 12-16, 70 percent of respondents said they think the climate is changing, compared with 65 percent in a similar poll in March. Those saying it’s not taking place fell to 15 percent from 22 percent, according to data set to be released this week by the UT Energy Poll.
Wildfires in Eastern Oregon kill hundreds (perhaps thousands) of cattle, burns hundreds acres of prime land.
One of my knitting students was just out there, yesterday she mentioned hundreds of cows dying due to smoke inhalation. This burned land will be unavailable for cattle grazing for probably at least two years.
Best News Report This Year On Link Between Climate Change And Extreme Weather (via ThinkProgress)
Featuring Michael Mann, Bob Deans, and Heidi Cullen.
A wildfire burning in a steep canyon between the towns of Colfax and Foresthill in Placer County, Calif., destroyed one home, threatened 170 more and injured nine firefighters, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing fire officials.
Cal Fire officials said Saturday that the Robbers Fire has burned 1,950 acres since igniting Wednesday afternoon, and was 20 percent contained. More than 1,900 firefighters are fighting the fire.
The area is in Placer County, west of Lake Tahoe.
As in the western United States and northern Canada, Russia is ablaze. On July 11, 2012, more than 25,000 hectares (97 square miles) of forests were burning, according to the Russian Federal Forestry Agency. Most of the fires—uncontrolled wildfires in boreal forests—were in central and eastern Siberia.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of fires burning in Yakutia on July 10, 2012. Thick smoke billowed from numerous wildfires near the Aldan River and blew to the north. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires.
Smoke from large wildfires in Siberia can be lofted high enough into the atmosphere for winds to push the plumes across the Pacific Ocean to North America. On July 8 and 9, 2012, smoke from Siberia arrived in British Columbia, Canada, and caused ground-level ozone to reach record high levels.
On July 6, NASA Goddard Space Flight scientist Jon Ranson—who is in the midst of a field expedition in Siberia—observed the fires firsthand during a flight between St. Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk. He described the scene on the blog he’s using to chronicle the expedition:“We left St. Petersburg near sunset, with the sun low on the horizon. Smoky sunsets create very red skies, and the colors were pretty spectacular. It reminded me of the sunsets I saw just a few weeks ago when I visited Greely, Colorado. I was close to the High Park fire, and the sky was an amazing, blazing orange at sunset. That was only one fire, however. Dozens, or maybe hundreds, colored the sky on July 6 as we passed above the smoke. We flew over a huge, curving river of thick smoke. It truly looked like a river flowing, I think, generally north to south.”
Ranson’s team, which conducted field research in Siberia in 2010 as well, is researching whether global warming is affecting the fire return interval (the amount of time that elapses between fires in a given area) at a field site in northern Siberia. Scientists expect that the return interval will decrease in the future and that wildfires in Siberia will become more frequent. Ranson touched on the topic in the same blog post:“In 2010, we came to Siberia by way of Beijing because the forests around Moscow were burning. That year, we worked an area north of Tomsk, near the Ob River. We didn’t have fire there that year, but we did see some fairly fresh burn scars. Now, two years later, our flights are again delayed by widespread blazes in taiga. And our 2012 study area appears to be on fire—so soon. It is sobering to realize that in two years so close together that the taiga has suffered such extreme fires. Is this the result of climate change? Or a freak occurrence? What I know, for sure, is that these fires appear to be consuming a lot of forest. They must be releasing a whole lot of carbon into the atmosphere, and what happens here does affect the rest of our world.”
- Calgary Herald. (2012, July 11). Smoke from Siberian fires Raises Ozone Levels in B.C. to Record Levels. Accessed July 11, 2012.
- Interfax. (2012, July 11). Over 25,000 Hectares Engulfed by Wildfires in Urals and Siberia. Accessed July 11, 2012.
The demise of the only company that manufactured a device specially designed to spray fire retardant from the back of U.S. military C-130 cargo planes has some experts worried about the future viability of a program that has helped fight wildfires for 40 years.
The Modular Airborne Firefighting System is a bus-sized device that can be shoved into the belly of a cargo plane and then used to spray retardant, or slurry, at 3,000 gallons in less than 5 seconds. The $4.9 million device’s only manufacturer, Sacramento, Calif.-based Aero Union, went out of business in August, and no other company has replaced it. Critical spare parts also are no longer being made.