Kincade Fire Spreads to 16,000 Acres, Forces 2,000 to Flee
The Kincade Fire, which ignited Wednesday night in California's Sonoma County, has now spread to 16,000 acres and forced around 2,000 people to flee their homes, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday.
Evacuees included the more than 900 residents of the town of Geyserville, BBC News reported. One of them was 68-year-old Dwight Monson, who told the Los Angeles Times he thought his home would be safe until he saw the hills behind his ranch on fire.
"We've never seen Black Mountain burn," Monson told the Los Angeles Times. "We thought we were a couple of miles from the fire. But guess what — the winds."
The fire was driven by gusts of up to 60 miles per hour, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. It has so far destroyed 49 homes and structures and is five percent contained. No one has been reported killed or missing.
Windy, dry weather in Northern California had already prompted utility company Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to shut off power to around 27,830 customers in Sonoma County Wednesday and 178,000 statewide. The outages meant that many people had to evacuate their homes in darkness. Despite this, it is possible the utility could still have ignited the Kincade Fire.
That's because equipment on a transmission tower broke near where the fire erupted, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. PG&E noticed an outage at the tower around the same time that the fire ignited at 9:25 p.m. Wednesday. The company said the transmission lines had remained live following the power shutoff, but it is not yet known if the incident actually caused the fire, according to the Los Angeles Times.
#Breaking ⚠️— KQED (@KQED) October 25, 2019
PG&E reported Thursday that a failure on one of its high-voltage transmission lines occurred Wednesday night — minutes before the reported start of the #KincadeFire that has burned more than 10,000 acres in Sonoma County.https://t.co/vpQRyieAaX
"They shut off the power and we still had a fire," Geyserville resident Madonna Tavares, 70, told the Los Angeles Times. "I don't understand it."
The Kincade Fire isn't the only blaze burning in California. In Los Angeles County, the fast-moving Tick Fire burned 5,000 acres and threatened homes, NPR reported.
Conditions could also get more difficult over the weekend, as PG&E is planning even more preventative power outages due to strong wind warnings, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Wired explained how the climate crisis is combining with seasonal weather patterns to fuel severe autumn wildfires in California, such as the Tubbs Fire that killed 22 in October of 2017 and the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise in November of 2018:
Every autumn, winds blow in from the northeast, heating up and picking up speed as they descend through mountain valleys. This sucks moisture out of vegetation, turning it into the perfect fuel for wildfires.
In the past, the state would have had at least some rain to hydrate vegetation after the summer. Thanks to climate change, that's largely not the case anymore. All it takes is one spark to ignite ultra-dry brush, and high winds will carry that flame with incredible speed, overwhelming communities like Paradise, where many residents simply didn't have time to escape.
Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized utility companies like PG&E for failing to adapt to this new normal.
"This is unacceptable," he said in a press conference Thursday reported by the Los Angeles Times. "Issues of corporate greed meeting issues of climate change have created these conditions."
- A Trailblazing Plan to Fight California Wildfires | The New Yorker ›
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- Kincade Fire burns 16000 acres in Sonoma County, as PG&E ... ›
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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