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'Unprecedented' Wildfires Break Out in Northern and Southern California

Climate
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) Golden Gate Division Air Operations helicopter crews have rescued 42 people from wildfires since Sunday. CHP

California is on fire. Multiple major fires broke out in many parts of the state, burning more than 100,000 acres.

More than a dozen wildfires ravaged across Northern California as of Tuesday morning. At least 11 people have died, 100 have been injured, tens of thousands evacuated, and more than 1,500 homes and businesses were destroyed. In Sonoma County, fire officials fielded 100 phone calls about missing persons.


350.org founder Bill McKibben tweeted that the Napa firestorm left the city looking like it had been bombed.

The wine country blazes started on Sunday and are among the most devastating in state history, according to media reports.

"We often have multiple fires going on, but the majority of them all started right around same time period, same time of night—it's unprecedented," Amy Head, the fire captain spokesperson for Cal Fire, told the Guardian. "I hate using that word because it's been overused a lot lately because of how fires have been in the past few years, but it truly is—there's just been a lot of destruction."

Head added that the fires were probably linked to a warming climate: "It has been hotter, it has been drier, our fire seasons have been longer, fires are burning more intensely, which is a direct correlation to the climate changing."

2017 Statewide Fire Map

The flames spread quickly due to powerful winds and high temperatures.

"We also had really gusty winds and really warm temperatures," National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Mehle told the Los Angeles Times. "This time of year it does happen quite a bit. For the San Francisco Bay Area, our summer is late September to early October; that's when we have our warmest and driest conditions."

In Southern California, more than 5,000 homes were evacuated because of a Monday brushfire in the Anaheim Hills area in Orange County. The inferno, dubbed Canyon Fire 2, has destroyed 24 structures and burned at least 6,000 acres.

Smoke from the fire inundated the skies above nearby theme park Disneyland.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Orange County Monday afternoon after issuing emergency declarations for the affected areas in the northern part of the state earlier that day.

The governor's Office of Emergency Services tweeted that the state is "fully engaged in response efforts for NorCal fires" and "all hands on deck."

The Governor also requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support the state and local response to fires burning in Northern California.

The Governor also requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support the state and local response to fires burning in Northern California,

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That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

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"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


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