Thursday, October 29, 2020

Wildfires Live Updates: A California Rescue Mission; Homes Burn in Washington State

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wildfires, windy conditions and a heat wave with temperatures reaching upward of 100 degrees converged in a dangerous combination over the weekend, as extreme weather continued to batter much of the Western United States on Tuesday.

In California, helicopters battled smoky skies overnight in an attempt to rescue dozens of people trapped in the fiery depths of the Sierra National Forest, with at least 362 people flown to safety by Tuesday afternoon.

multiple structure fires in Mill City.

And in Washington State, officials said that 80 percent of homes and structures in Malden, a town of 200 in the eastern part of the state, had been destroyed by fire. Officials said many buildings, including the fire station, post office, city hall and the library, were completely burned to the ground.

“The scale of this disaster really can’t be expressed in words,” said Brett J. Myers, the sheriff of Whitman County, Wash. “I pray everyone got out in time.”

By Tuesday night, fires were threatening some larger cities. In Oregon, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office issued mandatory evacuation orders for parts of Medford, Ore. — a city of 83,000 people — as winds pushed flames toward it. In Washington State, officials ordered evacuations for part of the city of Bonney Lake, 15 miles east of Tacoma.

for California Today, our daily newsletter from the Golden State.]

As the fires rage on in California, almost 150 people were rescued on Tuesday morning in the Sierra National Forest, according to the state’s National Guard.

A video posted to social media showed dozens of people dressed in hiking clothes and big backpacks, some with their dogs in tow, as they stepped off a California National Guard helicopter after being rescued.

said on the “Today” show on Tuesday morning.

Earlier on the holiday weekend, roughly 200 people were rescued from the Mammoth Pool Reservoir Area after being trapped by the Creek Fire, crowding into California National Guard helicopters as embers rained down. Two people were in serious condition from burns.

3,300 structures have been destroyed.said in a statement on Monday. “I just hope we don’t find the fire took more than homes and buildings.”thick smoke as flames devoured buildings, cars and homes. The little that remained of some structures, such as the post office, was badly charred and building debris was scattered across the surrounding area.The Colorado Sun reported.

“It’s going to hang on trees and give the fire no fuel to burn, and give firefighters a chance to catch up,” Mr. Barjenbruch said. “This is the best thing that could’ve happened for this fire.”

the link between human-caused climate change and bigger fires is inextricable, said Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “This climate change connection is straightforward: Warmer temperatures dry out fuels,” he said. “In areas with abundant and very dry fuels, all you need is a spark.”

“In pretty much every single way, a perfect recipe for fire is just kind of written in California,” Dr. Williams said. “Nature creates the perfect conditions for fire, as long as people are there to start the fires. But then climate change, in a few different ways, seems to also load the dice toward more fire in the future.”

Even if the conditions are right for a wildfire, you still need something or someone to ignite it. Sometimes the trigger is nature, like the unusual lightning strikes that set off the L.N.U. Lightning Complex fires in August, but more often than not humans are responsible, said Nina S. Oakley, a research scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Whether it is downed power lines or the fire ignited last weekend by smoke-generating fireworks as part of a gender-reveal party, humans tend to play a part — and not just in the initial trigger of a blaze, she said.

“You also have the human contribution to wildfire,” which includes the warming that has been caused by greenhouse gas emissions and the accompanying increased drying, as well as forest policies that involved suppressing fires instead of letting some burn, leaving fuel in place. Those factors, she said, are “contributing to creating a situation favorable to wildfire.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has often held up California as an example of the consequences of climate change, said on Tuesday that he had “no patience for climate change deniers.”

smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” ignited a wildfire that consumed thousands of acres east of Los Angeles over the holiday weekend, the authorities said.

The device ignited four-foot-tall grass at El Dorado Ranch Park on Saturday morning, and efforts to douse the flames with water bottles proved fruitless, Capt. Bennet Milloy of Cal Fire said on Monday. The family called 911 to report the fire and shared photos with investigators.

10,500 acres and was 16 percent contained, the authorities said. Evacuations were ordered, including in parts of Yucaipa, a nearby city of nearly 54,000. No injuries or serious structural damage were immediately reported.

Criminal charges were being considered but would not be filed before the fire is extinguished, Captain Milloy said. Cal Fire could also ask those responsible to reimburse the cost of fighting the fire, he added.

In April 2017 near Green Valley, Ariz., about 26 miles south of Tucson, an off-duty Border Patrol agent fired a rifle at a target filled with colored powder and Tannerite, a highly explosive substance, expecting to learn the gender of his child. The resulting explosion sparked a fire that consumed more than 45,000 acres and resulted in $8 million in damages.

Reporting was contributed by Tim Arango, Mike Baker, Jill Cowan, Jack Healy, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Sarah Mervosh, Christina Morales, Ivan Penn, John Schwartz, Kate Taylor, Lucy Tompkins, Allyson Waller and Will Wright


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