Friday, August 30, 2013

Putting Out the California Fires

Globe must have because this was the only flicker I saw today. 

"The fire has been burning for a week. The cause is under investigation."

"Huge wildfire spreads into Yosemite Park; Area stays open but officials urge some to evacuate" by Gosia Wozniacka |  Associated Press,  August 24, 2013

FRESNO, Calif. — A giant wildfire raging out of control spread into Yosemite National Park on Friday as authorities urged more evacuations in nearby communities where thousands have already been forced out by flames marching through the timbered slopes of the western Sierra Nevada.

The fire hit the park at the height of summer season, as officials geared up for a busy Labor Day weekend....

It really is a corporate pre$$, folks. That's the only time they notice anything.

The spectacular valley carved by glaciers offers visitors such iconic sights as the Half Dome and El Capitan rock formations and Bridalveil and Yosemite falls.

Yeah, I know, I've been there. It's one of the truly good memories of my life.

Smoke blowing across the Sierra into the state of Nevada forced officials in several counties to cancel outdoor school activities and issue health advisories, especially for people with respiratory problems....

Wh... cough, cough, cough... at?


"Wildfire near Yosemite triples in size" by Gosia Wozniacka |  Associated Press, August 23, 2013

FRESNO, Calif. — A wildfire outside Yosemite National Park more than tripled in size Thursday, shutting down businesses in surrounding communities and leading scores of tourists to leave the area during peak season.

The fire is one of several blazes burning in or near the nation’s national parks, and one of 50 major uncontained fires burning across the western United States.

Fire officials said the Yosemite blaze, which threatens several thousand homes, hotels, and camp buildings, had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. Two homes and seven outbuildings have been destroyed.

While the park remains open, the blaze has caused the closure of a 4-mile stretch of State Route 120, one of three entrances into Yosemite on the west side, devastating areas that live off of park-fueled tourism.

Officials have advised voluntary evacuations of the Pine Mountain Lake community, other area residences, several organized camps, and at least two campgrounds. More homes, businesses, and hotels are threatened in nearby Groveland, a community of 600 about five miles from the fire and 25 miles from the entrance of Yosemite.

Though some remain open, many area businesses have closed and people who had vacation rental homes are canceling plans, local business owners said.

Park officials said the fire has not affected Yosemite itself, which can still be accessed via state Routes 140 and 41 from the west, as well as State Route 120 from the east.


"Wildfire burns out of control near Yosemite" Associated Press, August 22, 2013

FRESNO, Calif. — An out-of-control forest fire threatening about 2,500 structures near Yosemite National Park was one of more than 50 active, large wildfires dotting the western United States on Wednesday.

The remote blaze in Stanislaus National Forest, west of Yosemite, grew to more than 25 square miles and was only 5 percent contained, threatening homes, hotels, and camp buildings.

The fire has led to the voluntary evacuation of the private gated summer community of Pine Mountain Lake, which has a population of 2,800, as well as several organized camps, at least two campgrounds, and dozens of other private homes....

The fire was among the top US firefighting priorities, said the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

Fifty-one major uncontained wildfires are burning throughout the West, according to the center, including fires in California, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. More than 19,000 firefighters were fighting the fires.

But the US Forest Service, the nation’s top wildfire-fighting agency, said Wednesday that it is running out of money to fight wildfires and is diverting $600 million from timber, recreation, and other areas to fill the gap. The agency said it had spent $967 million so far this year and was down to $50 million — typically enough to pay for just a few days of fighting fires when the nation is at its top wildfire preparedness level, which went into effect Tuesday.

There have been more than 32,000 fires this year that have burned more than 5,300 square miles.


RelatedCalifornia fire 75 percent contained

"Yosemite fire threatens forests, residents" Associated Press, August 26, 2013

GROVELAND, Calif. — As an intense wildfire races across the vast, picturesque Sierra forests, residents in the fire’s path are moving animals and children to safety.

Firefighters are working to keep the fire north of Yosemite National Park out of mountain communities.

The fire has moved northeast away from Groveland, where smoke gave away to blue skies Sunday. But at the Black Oak Casino in Tuolumne City, the slot machines were quiet as emergency workers took over nearly all of the resort’s 148 hotel rooms....

That's the only reason the corporate pre$$ is covering this. 

The fire continues burning in the remote wilderness area of Yosemite, but park spokesman Tom Medena said it is edging closer to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the source of San Francisco’s famously pure drinking water.


Despite ash falling like snowflakes on the reservoir and a thick haze of smoke limiting visibility to 100 feet, the quality of the water piped to the city is still good, said officials with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The hydroelectric power generated for the city by the system has been interrupted by the fire, forcing the utility to spend $600,000 to buy power on the open market.

Park employees are continuing their efforts to protect two groves of giant sequoias that are unique to the region by cutting brush and setting sprinklers, Medena said.

The fire has consumed more than 209 square miles of picturesque forests. Officials estimate containment at just 7 percent.


"Ash threatens water supply for San Francisco; Blaze is largest ever in Calif.’s Sierra mountains" by Brian Skoloff and Tracie Cone |  Associated Press, August 27, 2013

TUOLUMNE CITY, Calif. — A raging wildfire in Yosemite National Park rained ash on the reservoir that is the chief source of San Francisco’s drinking water, and utility officials Monday scrambled to send more water toward the metropolitan area before it becomes tainted.

Nearly 3,700 firefighters battled the approximately 230-square-mile blaze, the biggest wildfire on record in California’s Sierra Nevada. They reported modest progress, saying the fire was 15 percent contained.

‘‘We’re not there yet, but we’re starting to get a little bit of a handle on this thing,’’ said Lee Bentley, fire spokesman for the US Forest Service. ‘‘It’s been a real tiger. He’s been going around trying to bite its own tail, and it won’t let go but we’ll get there.’’

Utility officials monitored the clarity of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and used a massive new $4.6 billion gravity-operated pipeline system to move water quickly to reservoirs closer to the city....

At the same time, utility officials gave assurances that they have a six-month supply of water in reservoirs near the city.

So far the ash that has been raining onto the Hetch Hetchy has not sunk as far as the intake valves, which are about halfway down the 300-foot O’Shaughnessy Dam. Utility officials said that the ash is nontoxic but that the city will begin filtering water for customers if problems are detected. That could cost more.

On Monday the fire was still several miles away from the steep granite canyon where the reservoir is nestled, but several spot fires were burning closer, and firefighters were protecting hydroelectric transmission lines and other utility facilities.

‘‘Obviously we’re paying close attention to the city’s water supply,’’ said Glen Stratton, an operations chief on the fire suppression team.

Power generation at the reservoir was shut down last week so that firefighters would not be imperiled by live wires. San Francisco is buying replacement power from other sources to run City Hall and other municipal buildings.

It has been at least 17 years since fire ravaged the northernmost stretch of Yosemite that is under siege....

Meanwhile, biologists with the Forest Service are studying the effect on wildlife. Much of the area that has burned is part of the state’s winter-range deer habitat. Biologist Crispin Holland said most of the large deer herds would still be well above the fire danger.

Biologists discovered stranded Western pond turtles on national forest land near the edge of Yosemite. Their marshy meadow had burned, and the surviving creatures were huddled in the middle of the expanse in what little water remained.

‘‘We’re hoping to deliver some water to those turtles,’’ Holland said. ‘‘We might also drag some brush in to give them cover.’’

Wildlife officials were also trying to monitor at least four bald eagle nests in the fire-stricken area.



"Wildfire in Southern California spreads quickly" by Julie Watson |  Associated Press, August 09, 2013

BEAUMONT, Calif. — A growing wildfire chewed through a rugged Southern California mountain range on Thursday, damaging buildings, threatening as many as 600 homes, and forcing some 1,500 people to flee.

A thousand firefighters, 13 helicopters, and six air tankers battled the flames as they pushed eastward along the San Jacinto Mountains, a desert range 90 miles east of Los Angeles, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection....

“Unfortunately the size of this fire continues to take away any progress that we’re making,” he said....

In the hardscrabble desert town of Cabazon, hundreds were evacuated in the pre-dawn hours Thursday as the mountain ridge behind their homes glowed red. Many returned after sunrise to pack up more belongings and watch the flickering line of fire snaking up and down the brown, scrubby mountains.

Gray and pink-tinted clouds billowed across the otherwise crystal blue sky, and neighbors could be heard coughing.


"First fire, then floods in besieged Western states" Associated Press, August 27, 2013

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. — It has been more than a year since the enormous Waldo Canyon Fire roared across the slopes above the tourist town of Manitou Springs. But its burn scar is just beginning to recover, with little plant material — living or dead — to absorb this year’s late-summer rains.

So when a storm came on Aug. 9, drenching rain in the wildfire-blackened hills below Colorado’s Pikes Peak sent a torrent of rock and mud into the town. The runoff killed 53-year-old John Collins destroyed or damaged 36 homes, and engulfed half a dozen cars.

Wildfire burn scars have spawned flash floods up and down Colorado’s Front Range and in other Western states this summer, saddling communities with millions of dollars in cleanup costs.

‘‘I’m moving out,’’ Manitou Springs resident Donna Stone said. ‘‘It’s incomprehensible to me that I’d be safe here.’’

The threat lingers years after the flames have been extinguished and the human and property losses of fire have been tallied. In New Mexico, where fires have scorched more than 285 square miles of mountain slopes this year, flash floods killed fish and washed out roads in Pecos Canyon, a popular fishing area.


RelatedOld brush fueling Sierra Nevada fire

And look at what has come to save the day

Does the agenda-pu$hing militari$m ever stop? 

It's enough to get me all fired up!

Also see:

"Fire officials expressed optimism Sunday in their battle against a wildfire that has scorched about 160 square miles and forced the evacuation of 2,300 homes near two central Idaho resort communities, the affluent resort region that’s a second home to celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, and Bruce Willis."

I'm burned out after typing my points time and again.


"An extension cord hooked to an electric grill on a porch shorted out and started a house fire that killed five people Saturday morning, a northern Idaho fire official said."

At least they found a scapegoat.