PG&E charged with manslaughter for Zogg Fire in northern California

Zogg Fire, Sept. 27, 2020 California
Zogg Fire, Sept. 27, 2020. CAL FIRE photo.

In March investigators with CAL FIRE determined that the Zogg Fire which burned 56,338 acres, destroyed 204 structures, and caused four civilian fatalities, was caused by a tree contacting a power line operated by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). On Friday the company was charged with manslaughter and other charges.

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett announced the 31 charges, including 11 felonies, against PG&E, saying it failed to perform its legal duties and that its “failure was reckless and criminally negligent, and it resulted in the death of four people.”

If the utility is convicted of manslaughter, the punishment would be a fine for each person killed in the Zogg Fire last year southwest of Redding, California.

Zogg Fire
Zogg Fire soon after it started, looking east from Ducket at 3:32 p.m. PDT Sept. 27, 2020. AlertWildfire.

Last year PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for starting the Camp Fire which destroyed most of the town of Paradise and became the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in more than a century.

The company has admitted that their equipment may have ignited the Dixie Fire which has burned more than 600 residences and 963,000 acres near Susanville, California. At least two firefighters died of COVID-19 while assigned to the fire.

Map of the Zogg Fire
Map of the Zogg Fire October 9, 2020.

ABC news recognizes firefighters as the Persons of the Week

9 a.m. PDT September 28, 2021

Every week ABC News selects a Person of the Week. Last week they recognized the firefighters protecting the giant sequoias that are being threatened by the KNP Complex of fires in Sequoia National Park in California.

The last we heard they were successful, with none of the big trees being damaged or destroyed.

Ptarmigan Fire prompts evacuations near Silverthorne, Colorado

Off Interstate 70 about 50 miles west of Denver

  12:03 p.m. MDT Sept. 28, 2021

At an 11 a.m. briefing on Tuesday fire officials said the Ptarmigan Fire near Silverthorne, Colorado has prompted the evacuation or pre-evacuation notices of 617 homes.

More accurate mapping Monday evening found that at 10 p.m. the fire had burned about 17 acres, a decrease from the earlier estimate of 30 to 40 acres. The District Ranger said it may have grown to about 40 acres overnight.

Firefighters expect to use tactical firing operations to help protect structures on the west side of the fire. Two hand crews are en route.

The weather forecast predicts significant rain beginning after noon on Tuesday, continuing off and on through Saturday, accumulating about 0.70 inch. The elevation is over 9,000 feet so by Wednesday night it could turn to snow as temperatures drop into the low 30s.


7:45 a.m. MDT Sept. 28, 2021

Ptarmigan Fire map
Ptarmigan Fire map. The icons represent heat detected by satellites as late as 2:55 a.m. MDT Sept. 28, 2021.

The Ptarmigan Fire discovered at about 4:45 p.m. Monday has prompted the evacuation of 200 residents near Silverthorne, Colorado about 50 miles west of Denver. The blaze estimated at 30 to 40 acres is burning on the lodgepole and aspen-covered slopes below Ptarmigan Peak off I-70 north of Dillon Reservoir.

Monday night the Summit County Sheriff ordered mandatory evacuations for the Hamilton Creek area above Silverthorne. Pre-evacuations are in place for Angler Mountain and South 40.

Ptarmigan Fire Sept. 27, 2021
Ptarmigan Fire Sept. 27, 2021. Photo provided by USFS.

The latest information on evacuations is available by signing up for Summit County Emergency Alerts and at the Summit County Sheriffs Office Facebook page. A Red Cross Emergency Shelter is in place at the Summit Middle School.

The fire was attacked by two single engine air tankers, a large BAe-146 air tanker, and a Chinook helicopter which can carry up to 3,000 gallons. The aircraft focused their efforts on keeping it from moving downhill toward structures.

Monday night the White River National Forest said firefighters had not yet been able to safely engage the fire on the ground, but they are staged in strategic places should they have the opportunity. More resources are en route.

Ptarmigan Fire
Ptarmigan Fire Monday night. Photo provided by USFS.

Check out the fuels in these photos by Sean Gorman.

Frontal passage brings Red Flag Warnings and precipitation to Western states

Red Flag Warnings
Red Flag Warnings. The areas in CA, NV, ID, and CO expire Monday evening. The areas in ND, SD, WY, and most of MT expire Tuesday evening.

A frontal passage is bringing strong winds into most of the Western U.S., prompting Red Flag Warnings in seven states. The Red Flag Warnings generally expire Monday night except in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and most of the areas in Montana, which expire Tuesday evening.

The cumulative precipitation forecast through Saturday evening shows at least a small amount of precipitation occurring in many western areas, but many locations will receive less than 0.10″.  Even some snow or rain/snow mix is in the forecast for portions of Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Idaho.

Most of the southern two-thirds of California and Nevada are expected to remain dry through Saturday.

Forecast for cumulative precipitation
Forecast for cumulative precipitation, Monday evening through Saturday evening.

Damage assessment teams document 76 residences destroyed in Fawn Fire north of Redding, Calif.

A mapping flight Monday night determined the blaze had burned 8,559 acres

8:40 a.m. PDT Sept. 27, 2021

Fawn Fire map
Fawn Fire map. The outer red line was the perimeter mapped by a fixed wing flight at 11:10 p.m. Sept. 26, 2021. The blackish/red line was the perimeter about 26 hours before. The dark red area represents intense heat when the fire was mapped.

The incident management team on the Fawn Fire north of Redding, California reports that Damage Inspection Teams have documented 76 residences and 79 other structures that have been destroyed.

Shasta County has established a map showing the structures that have been evaluated for damage. Redding maintains a map showing evacuation status.

A mapping flight Monday night determined the blaze had burned 8,559 acres.

Backfiring operations near the lake on the northwest and northeast sides were both successful Sunday, stopping the spread. Firefighters now have a fireline around the entire fire, however the weather could test those lines.

Weather forecasters predict breezy conditions beginning late Monday afternoon ahead of a front which could drop 0.1″ of rain, but no wetting rains are expected. Winds will be out of the southwest gusting from 25 to 35 mph then turning to come from the northwest with gusts to 25.

Survey of wildland firefighter spouses finds the job creates stress for the family

The responses from 1,841 were tabulated

Firefighter Bull Complex of fires
Firefighter on the Bull Complex of fires, OR, Sept. 2, 2021, Inciweb.

The Grassroots Wildland Firefighters (GWF) conducted a survey of spouses of wildland firefighters that are connected with the federal government. The 1,841 responses included in the analysis found disturbing trends among the work force that until now may not have been clearly documented.

The primary goal of the survey was to measure the impacts that a career as a federal wildland firefighter (WFF) has on both firefighters and their families. The GWF is asking that the systems of support grow with the demands of the fire seasons.

Here are samples of their findings:

  • About half said they may have considered separating from their partner due to strain on the relationship caused by the job.
  • Only 11 percent often or regularly feel confident if something were to happen to their partner while on duty, they would be taken care of by their federal agency.
  • About 17 percent report partners have been injured at work resulting in a financial hardship.
  • When those in a dual fire career relationship were asked if they’ve left or considered leaving their own fire career due to the difficulty of having children, 79 percent of respondents the questions applied to, reported yes.

Below are documents released today by the GWF.

GRWFF Highlights of Data Summar2

 

The nine-page document below has detailed findings from the survey. (Look for the down arrow; hover or tap at the bottom to see more.)

 

WFF Partner Survey Data Summary