California Governor Declares Statewide Emergency as 180,000 Flee Kincade Fire
The largest, the Kincade Fire, had burned more than 54,298 acres in Sonoma County as of Sunday night and forced more than 180,000 people to evacuate. In Southern California, the Tick Fire forced nearly 50,000 to flee their homes, though they have since been allowed to return, according to The Guardian. At the same time, more than two million people have lost power as utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) implemented preventative outages due to high winds.
"We are deploying every resource available, and are coordinating with numerous agencies as we continue to respond to these fires. It is critical that people in evacuation zones heed the warnings from officials and first responders, and have the local and state resources they need as we fight these fires," Newsom said in the emergency declaration.
The Kincade Fire is only five percent contained, according to a Sunday evening update from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). It has destroyed 94 structures and damaged 17.
Almost the whole of Sonoma County was impacted by evacuation orders, according to The Guardian.
"This is the largest evacuation that any of us at the Sheriff's Office can remember," the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office tweeted Sunday. "Take care of each other."
Approx 180,000 people under evacuation order due to #KincadeFire. This is the largest evacuation that any of us at the Sheriff’s Office can remember. Take care of each other.— Sonoma Sheriff (@sonomasheriff) October 27, 2019
Firefighters are now working to prevent the blaze from crossing Highway 101 and burning an area that hasn't seen a wildfire since the 1940s, the Los Angeles Times reported. If it does cross the highway, the fire could threaten agricultural land and old-growth redwoods.
The blaze has been fueled by historic winds that gusted 90 miles per hour Saturday night, The Guardian reported.
"I've been in the business 30 years and I've never seen anything like this," San Francisco National Weather Service forecaster Steve Anderson told The Guardian. "Just the sheer intensity and the sustained duration of the winds. Not only does it carry sparks at least a mile but winds at these speeds pushes embers along the ground," he said.
Fire encroaching the highway on 128, both sides, in Sonoma Co. in Healdsburg. Major wind gusts kicking up and and trees and power lines down everywhere. Updates to come #KincadeFire @NBCNews @TODAYshow pic.twitter.com/0vYvsLTLk2— Sam Brock (@SamBrockNBC) October 27, 2019
The high winds prompted PG&E to shut off power to 960,000 homes and businesses in Northern California as of Sunday night, The New York Times reported, which means nearly three million people are now in darkness. More than 100,000 additional customers lost power through unplanned outages also caused by high wind.
"[W]hat we do is not popular," PG&E Chief Executive Andy Vesey said during a Sunday night press conference reported by The New York Times. "I will not tell you that people congratulated us. People are angry."
PG&E Has Begun De-energization of Electric Lines for Public Safety - Impacts Will Include Customers in Parts of 38 Counties in Northern and Central California, Historic Wind Event Will Affect 940,000 Customers and Last Through Monday https://t.co/XUqXZEo9k2 pic.twitter.com/nV4LlRdCDa— PG&E (@PGE4Me) October 27, 2019
The utility said on Twitter that it would begin restoration work for some areas Monday, but might need to institute more planned shutoffs Tuesday and Wednesday because of more high winds.
In Southern California, meanwhile, firefighters made more progress on the Tick Fire, which was 70 percent contained as of Sunday night, NPR reported. The fire has burned 4,600 acres and destroyed or damaged around 50 buildings. Around 1,000 firefighters are still working in the area to make sure the blaze stays contained. Santa Ana winds are forecast to pick up Sunday and Monday, and reach 50 to 70 miles per hour Wednesday and Thursday.
A doorbell camera shows a California family evacuating their home as massive Tick fire surrounded their neighbourhood in Canyon Country, scorching nearby hills and filling the sky with smoke.— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) October 26, 2019
ALSO SEE: https://t.co/mAaeRbBwbX pic.twitter.com/OoNBuBnBac
Wildfires are a natural part of many California ecosystems, but the climate crisis has made them larger and more extreme, National Geographic explained. That's because California has warmed by about three degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years, compared to the global average of around one degree. Warmer air makes plants drier, which means more fire fuel.
"All else being equal, in a warmer world, vegetation is going to be drier, even in a place like California where vegetation is usually dry by autumn. You can still make it drier," University of California, Los Angeles climate scientist Daniel Swain told National Geographic.
Out of California's 20 largest fires, 15 ignited after 2000.
One Tick Fire evacuee has experienced that change first hand. Brenda Taylor told The Guardian she had evacuated eight or nine times in the past 20 years because of fires.
"It has become normal for us," she said.
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By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
The Evolutionary Origin of an Aspergillus Hybrid.<p>Multiple evolutionary paths can lead to the emergence of hybrids. One path is through mating, just as the horse and donkey mate to create a mule. Another path is through the merging or fusion of genetic material from cells of different species.</p><p>It is this second path that appears to have been taken by our fungus. <em>A. latus</em> appears to have two of almost everything compared to its parental species: twice the genome size, twice the total number of genes and so on. But unlike other hybrids, which are often sterile like the mule, we found that <em>A. latus</em> is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually.</p><p>But how distinct were the parents of <em>A. latus</em>? By comparing the parts contributed by each parent in the <em>A. latus</em> genome, we estimate that its parents are approximately 93% genetically similar, which is about as related as we humans are with lemurs. In other words, <em>A. latus</em>, an agent of infectious disease, is the fungal equivalent of a human-lemur hybrid.</p>
How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.
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By John Letzing
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The Navajo Nation covers the corners of three different states. Google Maps
Growing Contribution<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NDY5Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjM4MTgyM30.IuQTKQs1stvYYKD6vaVTrqAyoBsUG0BhDvlhxsyKwPA/img.png?width=980" id="02a05" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2841f82b1785df5d5ed7bf64d3bb882b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
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Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.
DAN medical experts explained the difference between normal lungs, on the left, and "very serious lungs caused by COVID-19," on the right. Matias Nochetto / Divers Alert Network (DAN)
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