Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less