Strong Winds Spark More Than a Dozen LA-Area Wildfires, Including a Blaze Near Reagan Presidential Library
More than a dozen wildfires ignited around Los Angeles Wednesday as strong Santa Ana winds prompted the National Weather Service to issue "extreme red flag warnings" for Los Angeles and Ventura counties, BBC News reported.
"I don't know if I've ever seen us use this warning," forecaster Marc Chenard said.
The new fires come as California has been battling wind-driven blazes and enduring preventative power outages for about a week. While wildfires are natural in the state, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the fire season has gotten longer because of the climate crisis.
One of Wednesday's fires, the Easy Fire, tripled in three hours and threatened the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It was driven by almost hurricane-force gusts of more than 74 miles per hour, according to BBC News.
That fire sparked in Simi Valley at around 6 a.m. and spread to at least 1,648 acres, ABC 7 reported. It threatened 6,500 homes and destroyed one structure, prompting evacuation orders for around 30,000 people.
Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said that firefighters were making progress, but that the fight was not over yet.
"We still are not through this," he said at a 6 p.m Wednesday update reported by ABC 7. "We have another 24 hours of significant weather conditions and a lot of threat. Please stay aware, stay tuned and always be ready with a plan."
At one point Wednesday, the blaze menaced the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, surrounding the 1,300 acre complex, CNN reported. John Heubusch, the library's executive director, said a fire had never come so close before.
"The flames are licking right up the hills, right up to the parking lot," he told CNN-affiliate KLTA. "I think the parking lot will save the library."
Firefighters dropped liquid from the air and fought the fire from the ground, but they also had an unlikely ally: goats. A herd of up to 500 ate vegetation that otherwise would have fueled the fire.
"One of the firefighters mentioned that they do believe the goats' fire line helped them fight this fire," library spokeswoman Melissa Giller said, as CNN reported. "They just proved today how useful they really are."
The Easy Fire wasn't the only blaze to erupt Wednesday, according to The Guardian.
The Hill Fire broke out in Riverside County around 11 a.m. and another fire ignited near Fullerton in Orange County.
The Getty Fire, which ignited Monday, has burned 745 acres and destroyed 12 structures. It is now 27 percent contained.
Meanwhile, in Northern California, firefighters finally began to make progress on the Kincade Fire, which has burned through 76,825 acres and forced nearly 200,000 people to evacuate, BBC News reported. However, the Sonoma County Sheriff has finally lifted the evacuation order for much of the area, according to The Guardian, and the fire is now 30 percent contained.
From @Space_Station I was able to catch these pictures of the California wildfires burning north of the Bay Area. Thinking of the people who have lost their homes and the brave first responders on the front lines protecting them. pic.twitter.com/islV3DP5yM— Andrew Morgan (@AstroDrewMorgan) October 30, 2019
Meanwhile, utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) began restoring power after two blackouts Saturday and Tuesday initiated in an attempt to prevent fires, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The utility said calmer-than-expected winds Wednesday meant it could begin restoring power everywhere except for Kern County. As of Wednesday evening, around 64,000 customers remained without power.
"Thank you for your patience, for your understanding," PG&E Corp. CEO Bill Johnson said at an evening press conference reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. "Let's all hope we can get back to normal soon, and stay that way for a long while."
Correction: An earlier version of this article said that the Getty Fire ignited Tuesday. It has been corrected to reflect that fact that it ignited Monday.
By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bill McKibben
To understand the planetary importance of this autumn's presidential election, check the calendar. Voting ends on November 3—and by a fluke of timing, on the morning of November 4 the United States is scheduled to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
President Trump announced that we would abrogate our Paris commitments during a Rose Garden speech in 2017. But under the terms of the accords, it takes three years to formalize the withdrawal. So on Election Day it won't be just Americans watching: The people of the world will see whether the country that has poured more carbon into the atmosphere than any other over the course of history will become the only country that refuses to cooperate in the one international effort to do something about the climate crisis.
By Oliver Milman
The climate crisis is set to be a significant factor in a U.S. presidential election for the first time, with new polling showing a clear majority of American voters want decisive action to deal with the threats posed by global heating.
Do you support or oppose each of the following policies as part of the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic?<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzODcyMC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjg4MzY4OX0.B-bt9mltOhK0MHFbzK8G3_8sBkDAeUsAWm-AhNZYoxQ/img.png?width=980" id="acd43" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8724178274b9f96e27055f74a1bafe20" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
America's largest national forest, Tongass National Forest in Alaska, will be opened up to logging and road construction after the Trump administration finalizes its plans to open up the forest on Friday, according to The New York Times.
Aerial view of the Tongass National Forest. Alan Wu / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
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By Ruby Russell and Ajit Niranjan
Hamstrung by coronavirus lockdowns, frustrated school strikers have spent months staging digital protests against world leaders failing to act urgently on climate change.
Pandemic Stalls Protests<p>Last November, the head of the UN Environment Program was among the public and scientific figures to warn that 2020 offered a last chance to cut emissions. Then, few could have suspected this deadline would coincide with an unprecedented public health emergency.</p><p>The pandemic has <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/tough-times-ahead-for-climate-protesters-during-corona-pandemic/a-52978469" target="_blank">dealt climate activism a blow</a>. Niedeggen says that as a movement demanding that the world act on scientific advice, the school strikers took lockdown restrictions extremely seriously, halted public protests immediately and took their activism online.</p><p>On April 24, Fridays for Future organized a "digital strike," with Niedeggen hosting a that racked up close to a quarter of a million views. "We were not physically standing together, but we were all fighting together," she says.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-strikers-get-inventive-during-the-covid-19-crisis-fridays-for-future/a-53229262" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Activists also gathered thousands of placards</a> from across Germany to lay out in front of the German Bundestag around the central slogan: "Fight every crisis."</p>
Opportunity for a New Normal<p>Last September's Global Climate Strike drew young and old protestors around the world, with organizers estimating a global turnout of 7.6 million, including an estimated 270,000 people in Berlin. Activists have adjusted this year's event to account for social distancing and different levels of coronavirus restrictions in cities taking part.</p><p>They say COVID-19 also presents opportunities.</p><p>"The pandemic shows that we can change our normal daily life, and we are very able to adjust to a situation of crisis," she says. The key question is how economies get back on their feet: "We have the possibility to build a new normal, to build a renewable world order, and an environmentally just, climate-just normal for everybody."</p><p>In July, Jeng was among 20 female Fridays for Future activists from the Global South to sign an open letter to G20 finance ministers warning that their decisions in "exclusive backrooms" over stimulus packages and corporate bailouts would "lock in development pathways for decades."</p><p>"The system is not broken, it was built to be unjust. We don't need recovery, we need a reboot," the letter reads, stressing that "black people, indigenous peoples and people of color," have been disproportionately hit by the economic, climate and coronavirus crises. </p>
Policy 'Not Quite There Yet'<p>Figures on stimulus spending do not suggest their words had much impact. The ministers were criticized for failing to relieve the debt of poorer countries, and according to <a href="https://www.energypolicytracker.org/region/g20/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Policy Tracker</a>, G20 countries by August had pledged $169 billion (142 billion euros) to fossil fuels since the beginning of the pandemic.</p><p>Katrin Uba, associate professor of political science at Uppsala University in Sweden, is researching Fridays for Future. She says that despite the movement raising awareness and gaining access to policymakers, real policy change "is not there yet."</p><p>Still, she stresses that social movements go through waves of mobilization as public attention on their core issues ebbs and flows. And perhaps one of Fridays for Future's biggest achievements is birthing a politically active generation that will keep the fight up long after corona becomes a memory. </p><p>"We know clearly from our research that many of the people who came to the streets hadn't done any protesting before in their lives," she told DW. "And we also know that if you do one protest, you are likely to do more."</p>
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