Quantcast

California Wildfires: One of 'Greatest Tragedies' State Has Ever Faced

Climate
www.youtube.com

With aid from easing winds, the 11,000 firefighters beating back the Northern California wildfires are making "good progress," as the number of major blazes dropped to 15, the state's fire agency Cal Fire announced Sunday.

But as Cal Fire noted‚ "Sadly, the death toll has risen to 40 people."


An estimated 217,566 acres have burned and 5,700 structures have been destroyed. Nearly 75,000 people remain evacuated.

The wine country blazes are officially the deadliest in state history.

"This is truly one of the greatest, if not the greatest tragedy that California has ever faced," California Gov. Jerry Brown said Saturday. "The devastation is just unbelievable, it's a horror that no one could have imagined."

President Trump approved a federal disaster declaration last week after Gov. Brown's request for federal assistance.

The infernos continue to burn, but "we will continue to aggressively attack and keep (the fire) contained," Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said during a Sunday press conference.

"We are making a tremendous progress out there," he noted.

"Things feel good in our gut as firefighters," said Bret Gouvea, deputy chief of Cal Fire, adding that authorities remain cautious.

The wine country fires started Sunday and rapidly spread throughout the week due to the area's low humidity and "Diablo winds," with gusts up to 70 miles per hour. Scientists have suggested climate change might play a role.

Cal Fire said Sunday winds across Northern California have been fairly light in morning and the earlier Red Flag Warnings for the area will be lifted at 8 a.m. Many evacuation orders have also been lifted.

Red Flag Warnings are the highest alert issued by the National Weather Service, in which conditions are ideal for wildland fire combustion and rapid spread.

However, Red Flag Warnings remain in effect in Southern California due to gusty winds throughout the day, low humidity and high fire danger.

California's fires have released enough air pollution to equal a year's worth of traffic, Sean Raffuse, an air-quality analyst at the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory at University of California in Davis, said. Raffuse estimates the fires have produced about 10,000 tons of fine particulate matter, about the same amount generated by the state's 35 million vehicles.

"We are reporting the worst air quality ever recorded for smoke in many parts of the Bay Area," Tom Flannigan, a spokesman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, told the East Bay Times. "This is similar to what you see in Beijing, China in bad air days there.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Artist's conception of solar islands in the open ocean. PNAS

Millions of solar panels clustered together to form an island could convert carbon dioxide in seawater into methanol, which can fuel airplanes and trucks, according to new research from Norway and Switzerland and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, PNAS, as NBC News reported. The floating islands could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less
Marcos Alves / Moment Open / Getty Images

More than 40 percent of insects could go extinct globally in the next few decades. So why did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week OK the 'emergency' use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres?

EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, "that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn't be allowed to spray."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
View of downtown Miami, Florida from Hobie Island on Feb. 2, 2019. Michael Muraz / Flickr

The Democratic candidates for president descended upon Miami for a two-night debate on Wednesday and Thursday. Any candidate hoping to carry the state will have to make the climate crisis central to their campaign, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
A pumpjack in the Permian Basin. blake.thornberry / Flickr

By Sharon Kelly

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal featured a profile of Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, whose company is known among investors for its emphasis on drawing oil and gas from the Permian basin in Texas using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Craig K. Chandler

The federal government has available to it, should it choose to use them, a wide range of potential climate change management tools, going well beyond the traditional pollution control regulatory options. And, in some cases (not all), without new legislative authorization.

Read More Show Less
Denis Poroy / Getty Images

By Dan Gray

Processed foods, in their many delicious forms, are an American favorite.

But new research shows that despite increasing evidence on just how unhealthy processed foods are, Americans have continued to eat the products at the same rate.

Read More Show Less

By Sarah Steffen

With a profound understanding of their environmental surroundings, indigenous communities around the world are often cited as being pivotal to tackling climate change.

Read More Show Less