Wildfires - Environmental Hazards Newsletter - 12th Mar 2018

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Wildfires will likely get worse in western North America

States in the interior western United States, in particular, may be faced with large increases in total wildfire area burned, potentially beyond anything that has been experienced in the past, according to the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE on December 15, 2017, as the 2017 fire season was ending.
5th Mar 2018 - EarthSky

Wildfires: Smoke and cloud interactions unexpectedly result in cooling

For years, scientists determined that smoke, overall, diminishes clouds' cooling effect by absorbing light that the clouds beneath the aerosols would otherwise reflect. A new study found that smoke and cloud layers are closer to each other than previously thought. This makes the clouds more reflective of light and, thus, accelerates the clouds' cooling effect.
5th Mar 2018 - Science Daily

California Spent $1.8B Fighting 2017 Wildfires

California state agencies spent nearly $1.8 billion fighting fierce wildfires that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses last year, legislative budget experts reported Thursday. The federal government will reimburse most of the costs, but the state will still need to come up with about $371 million on top of the state’s existing wildfire budget, the Legislative Analyst’s Office told the Senate Budget committee. That shouldn’t be a problem because state revenue has far exceeded expectations so far this fiscal year and the general fund is flush with cash.
5th Mar 2018 - Insurance Journal

Crews tackle wildfires through the night on two Scottish islands

Crews have been tackling a number of wildfires through the night across two Hebridean islands. Emergency services have been working to extinguish a three kilometre-long blaze at Portree, Skye, since around 7.40pm on Saturday. A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: “It looks like they are going to be there for a while.” Crews were also called to the Creachan Hill area on the remote isle of Barra after reports of a 500 x 600 metre fire at 7.38pm on Saturday.
4th Mar 2018 - Belfast Telegraph

Several homes lost in wildland fire south of Kiowa

Firefighters have fully contained a 377-acre brush fire that broke out Sunday morning south of Kiowa, burning four homes. The Elbert County Sheriff's Office announced the fire was full contained just after 8 p.m. after breaking out earlier Sunday morning around 10:15 a.m. It began near County Road 118 and County Road 45 and spread quickly due to high winds and dry conditions in the area.
4th Mar 2018 - 9NEWS.com

Agricultural policy can reduce wildfires

The introduction of new agricultural policies can reduce the damage caused by wildfires in Southern Europe. Last year, once again, forest fires took their toll in southern Europe. In Portugal alone, at least 500,000 acres were burned, 100 people were killed, and 500 houses were lost.
2nd Mar 2018 - Science Magazine

NASA's new weather satellite will show us wildfires and storms in ...

The launch of NASA's GOES-S satellite will provide the capability to monitor the weather of the United States in incredible detail. The satellite will focus on concerning storms and wildfires, giving people in those areas updated information every 30 seconds.
1st Mar 2018 - Popular Science

Atlas 5 rocket launches GOES-S satellite to watch Western weather and wildfires

1st Mar 2018 - GeekWire

California spent nearly $1.8 billion last year fighting major wildfires

California state agencies spent nearly $1.8 billion fighting fierce wildfires that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses last year.
1st Mar 2018 - Los Angeles Times

US and Cuban forces unite to fight a common foe: wildfire at Guantanamo

For a few days last week, soldiers from the U.S. and Cuba fought on the same side, battling a massive wildfire that threatened Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The blaze set off nearly 1,000 land mines and burned 1,700 acres, forcing the evacuation of six neighborhoods on the naval base.
1st Mar 2018 - USA Today

Wildfires - Environmental Hazards Newsletter - 1st Feb 2018

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Highway closures from wildfires help push Prince George airport to record year

Prince George's airport had its busiest year in 2017, driven by passengers trying to bypass wildfires and new flights to Edmonton, Alta., and Dawson Creek, B.C. The biggest increases came in July and August, which saw passenger traffic increase by 18 and 21 per cent over the same month in 2016, respectively. They were also the months that saw B.C. encounter its worst wildfire season on record, with thousands of evacuees from the Cariboo region forced into Prince George because highways further south were closed for weeks at a time.
21st Jan 2018 - CBC.ca

California Today: Price Gouging Complaints After the Wildfires

The wildfires that have swept through California have led to numerous complaints about landlords drastically raising prices or evicting tenants to capitalize on rising demand. This has prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to impose a six-month ban on rent increases in excess of 10 percent, while Attorney General Xavier Becerra has warned against all forms of price gouging.
21st Jan 2018 - New York Times

Australia: Hundreds saved from wildfires in Royal National Park

Firefighters have rescued hundreds of hikers and tourists from Australia's Royal National Park after wildfires ravaged the national park south of Sydney. One out-of-control fire was still burning in the park on Sunday, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said, adding that people still in the vicinity should stay informed about wildfire conditions. More than 100 firefighters — with the help of water bombers and aircraft — responded to two blazes that have destroyed over 600 hectares of land in the 15,000-hectare park. They extinguished a smaller fire on Saturday, but worked through the night to Sunday to contain the spread of the larger fire.
21st Jan 2018 - Deutsche Welle

Officials predict more wildfires for Kansas in 2018

The central and southern Plains, including western and southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma and most of Texas, face an elevated threat of wildfires through April. The prediction comes from Kansas State University scientists and a government organization that assesses risks, the Wichita Eagle reported. The warning issued earlier this week comes after back-to-back years of the worst wildfires in Kansas history. The fires burned thousands of acres and destroyed homes, cattle, fences and power lines. More than 700,000 acres burned in more than 20 counties last March.
20th Jan 2018 - Seattle Times

State will not appeal FEMA denial for wildfire assistance

State emergency managers said they won’t appeal the federal government’s decision to deny millions of dollars in additional aid to deal with Montana’s historic 2017 wildfire season. Governor Steve Bullock sent a letter in November asking President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster in the state, in response to the dozens of major fires and thousands of smaller ones that burned across Montana last summer. That declaration would have given the state access to about $44 million dollars in federal aid. But last month, administrators with the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied the request, saying the damage wasn’t so severe and so extensive that it was beyond the state’s ability to respond to it.
20th Jan 2018 - KTVQ Billings News

100 Million Dead Trees Prompt Fears of Giant Wildfires

The more than 100 million trees that died in California after being weakened by drought and insect infestations have transformed large swaths of the Sierra Nevada into browned-out tree cemeteries. In some areas more than 90 percent of trees are dead.This week a group of scientists warned in the journal BioScience that the dead trees could produce wildfires on a scale and of an intensity that California has never seen.
19th Jan 2018 - New York Times

NE Florida wildfire season is coming as Forestry Service does prescribed burns to head it off

The heat’s been on in some state forests in Northeast Florida lately, despite the frigid temperatures of recent weeks. State forestry crews have been systematically burning dead underbrush in an effort to prevent wildfires over the next few months. The hazard reduction burns were done in recent days after forestry firefighters fought 49 wildfires in Florida in the first week of 2018, a number that jumped to 97 as of Wednesday. Due to two periods of hard freezes that killed grass and trees, the wildfire danger index for Duval and Nassau counties is “high,” with St. Johns, Clay and Putnam in the “moderate” range, Florida Forest Service wildfire mitigation specialist Annaleasa Winter said.
19th Jan 2018 - Florida Times-Union

Wine Country Wildfire Survivors Victimized by Skyrocketing Rents, Evictions

Some survivors of the wine country wildfires are being evicted from their homes after sharp rent increases. Evictions in burn-affected areas are up – and up dramatically. The wine country wildfires killed 24 and displaced thousands more.
19th Jan 2018 - CBS San Francisco Bay Area

After wildfires, it gets tougher to insure a home in California

California suffered record-breaking wildfires last year and now insurers are taking a harder look at fire risk. Urban areas are increasingly getting considered as a fire hazard. Insurers refused to renew thousands of policies in fire areas after previous disasters. A proposed state bill would limit insurers' ability to cut coverage in areas after a wildfire disaster.
18th Jan 2018 - CNBC

After wildfires, California debates insurance reforms

17th Jan 2018 - The Mercury News

Bill calls for "de-energizing" power lines during wildfire threats

18th Jan 2018 - Fairfield Daily Republic

Wildfires bust Routt County's budget

After spending more than $80,000 fighting wildfires in 2017, Routt County commissioners are studying how the county can more effectively spend that money to improve the county’s five rural fire protection districts. The county had budgeted $31,000 to fight wildfires, but spent $83,028. Emergency Management Director David “Mo” DeMorat believes the county and the rural fire protection districts in Steamboat Springs, North Routt, Yampa, West Routt and Oak Creek can realize greater long-term benefits by instead spending that money on upgrading the effectiveness of their volunteer firefighters and the tools available to them.
18th Jan 2018 - The Denver Post

Cars in Northern California burn zones inspected to prevent fraud

Thousands of cars destroyed in Northern California during the October wildfires are being identified and having their state records updated this month as part of an effort spearheaded by the California Department of Motor Vehicles in partnership with local law enforcement agencies. The DMV announced Thursday it hopes by the end of this month to have finished examining an estimated 4,000 destroyed vehicles burned during the fires, most of them in Sonoma County. DMV investigators are working with the CHP, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the Santa Rosa Police Department on the operation, which began Jan. 11 at the direction of state emergency officials.
18th Jan 2018 - Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Napa's Sen. Dodd introduces bill to reduce wildfires from downed power lines

Sen. Bill Dodd has introduced a bill to reduce the risk of wildfires caused by downed power lines. The bill requires electric utilities to adopt comprehensive policies and procedures for proactively de-energizing power lines during extreme weather. “This last fire season underscored the need to think innovatively and proactively about fire prevention,” said Dodd, D-Napa. “We know downed power lines have caused devastating fires in the past, and we need electric utilities and the Public Utilities Commission to plan ahead and implement best practices.
17th Jan 2018 - Napa Valley Register

Officials predict another bad year in Kansas for wildfires

This could be another bad year for wildfires in Kansas. That warning issued earlier this week comes after back to back years of the worst wildfires in state history, which burned thousands of acres and destroyed homes, cattle, fences and powerlines. “We’re setting up for about the same thing again this spring,” Comanche County Fire Chief Greg Ellis said. “Everybody’s nervous.”
16th Jan 2018 - Wichita Eagle

How to save your town from wildfires

Given that global warming will intensify the problem, it may even be worth thinking in terms of managed retreat, gradually abandoning some of the highest-risk areas as we recognize that the cost of trying to protect them doesn't make financial or ecological sense. There are no simple solutions to the growing threat of wildfires in a warming world, but communities can take steps to protect themselves with a flexible, science-based, and collaborative approach. Grassroots involvement and good leadership can help make that happen.
16th Jan 2018 - The Week Magazine

California wildfires in 2017: A staggering toll of lost life and homes

This year will go down as one of the worst in California wildfire history, the latest state fire statistics show. As of Dec. 11: Large wildfires had destroyed or damaged more than 10,000 structures in California this year, a higher tally than the last nine years combined. Large wildfires had killed 43 people – 41 civilians and two firefighters. That’s higher than the last 10 years combined, state figures show.
2nd Jan 2018 - Sacramento Bee

The wildfires in California just keep shattering records this year

The catastrophic wildfires of 2017 didn't just destroy neighborhoods and livelihoods -- they also annihilated records. And the destruction's not over. The Thomas Fire, which has torched the equivalent of Dallas and Miami combined, is still raging in Southern California.
26th Dec 2017 - CNN

US launches ambitious plan to battle rangeland wildfires

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Friday said it will create an Environmental Impact Statement concerning fuel breaks and another on fuels reduction and restoration for Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, California, Utah, and Washington. The agency said the documents when finished will help speed the process for future landscape-scale projects in the Great Basin by providing a blanket approval for similar areas that will likely just need minor additional environmental reviews to proceed. “It saves teams from having to do the same kinds of analysis 10, 15, 20 times over the next 20 years,” BLM spokesman Ken Frederick said.
23rd Dec 2017 - The Denver Post