Secretary of Interior blames “environmental radicals” for California wildfires

Camp Fire
A firing operation on the Camp Fire. Inciweb photo. Click to enlarge.

Ryan Zinke, like his boss President Trump, blamed something other than the extreme wind, low humidity, and drought for the two recent devastating wildfires in California that have killed 80 people.

Below is an excerpt from an article at The Hill:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke blamed “environmental radicals” for the California wildfires that have killed at least 77 people, saying they stop forest management practices that could have prevented the fires.

Days after touring the damage of the Camp fire, the deadliest in California’s history, Zinke went on Breitbart News Sunday and declared “it’s not the time for finger-pointing” on the causes of the fires.

But minutes later, he put the blame squarely on environmentalists, contending that they stood in the way of clearing brush, doing prescribed burns and other actions.

“I will lay this on the foot of those environmental radicals that have prevented us from managing the forests for years. And you know what? This is on them,” Zinke said.

While touring the Camp and Woolsey Fires Saturday Mr. Trump reiterated at every stop that he believes forest management in California was the key issue in preventing devastating fires, and threatened to cut fire funding for the state. He mentioned the “forest nation” of Finland as a good example that spends “a lot of time raking and cleaning….”

The fatality count on the Camp Fire east of Chico rose again Sunday as search teams found another set of human remains to bring the total loss of life to 77, with 993 unaccounted for. The current tally for the number of homes destroyed is 11,990, and acres burned, 151,000. The number of commercial structures burned rose from 367 to 472.

The remains of three individuals have been found in the Woolsey Fire at Malibu, California. That fire has burned 96,949 acres and 1,130 structures.

Smoke creates record high pollution levels in California cities

The Camp Fire continues to affect air quality

smoke pollution particulates record California cities
Records show a large increase in particulates in some California cities after the Camp and Woolsey Fires started on November 8, 2018. Via @RARohde. Click to enlarge.

Areas in Northern California have been suffering through unprecedented air pollution since the Camp Fire started November 8 east of Chico. Sacramento, San Francisco, and Stockton have all recorded record high levels.

The animation below shows the predicted wind direction for Northern California at 9 a.m. PST November 19, 2018. If accurate, the wind could bring smoke from the Camp Fire, which is just east of Chico, down into the Sacramento Valley, the Bay Area, and the Central Valley on Monday. This condition should reverse Tuesday through Friday with the smoke being pushed to the north away from San Francisco, but Saturday could again bring wind and smoke from the north if the Camp Fire is still active.

On Sunday and Sunday night the Camp Fire was active on the east side and will likely produce a significant amount of smoke Monday. But Wednesday through Friday should bring copious amounts of rain to the fire area, perhaps more than two inches, which will definitely inhibit the production of smoke and slow the spread of the fire — at least.

The fatality count on the Camp Fire rose again Sunday as search teams found another set of human remains to bring the total loss of life to 77, with 993 unaccounted for. The current tally for the number of homes destroyed is 11,990, and acres burned, 151,000. The number of commercial structures burned rose from 367 to 472.

wildfire smoke forecast map
The forecast for the distribution of wildfire smoke at 2 p.m. PST November 19, 2018. NOAA.

President visits the devastating wildfire at Paradise, California

Mr. Trump traveled to a burned trailer park at the Camp Fire

Progression map of the Camp Fire
Progression map of the Camp Fire, November 17, 2018. Base map produced by the Incident Management Team. Notations and insertion of legend by Wildfire Today. Click to enlarge. A full-size version of the map can be downloaded (large 3 MB file).

(UPDATED at 1:31 p.m. PST November 18, 2018)

Yesterday President Trump traveled to California to see first hand the destruction caused by the two recent very large fires in the state. Air Force One landed at Beale Air Force Base and then Mr. Trump helicoptered in Marine One about 40 miles north to the Incident Command Post for the Camp Fire at Chico where he met with Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom. He also had a very short briefing from the Incident Commander as they looked at the progression map (see the map above).

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Camp Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.

Saturday evening Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced that five more bodies were found, bringing the total number killed on the Camp Fire to 76. More than 1,200 are on the unaccounted for list, but officials warn that it most likely includes duplications and errors. According to CAL FIRE the fire has burned 149,000 acres, 9,891 residences, and 367 commercial structures.

The group toured a portion of the burned area in Paradise with the city’s Mayor Jody Jones, and made a stop at the Skyway Villa Mobile Home and RV Park.

President Trump Camp Fire visit
President Trump at the Skyway Villa Mobile Home & RV Park in Paradise, California, site of the Camp Fire. Screen shot from Global News video.

While at the Incident Command Post Mr. Trump promised to include $500 million in the Farm Bill in what he called “a new category, management and maintenance of forests”. At every stop Saturday he reiterated that forest management was a key issue in preventing devastating fires, including later in the day when visited the Woolsey Fire in Southern California. Firefighters and California residents are still reeling from the President’s November 10 tweet when he wrote:

There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!

During his visit Mr. Trump mentioned the “forest nation” of Finland as a good example that spends “a lot of time raking and cleaning….”

When a reporter asked him if he had changed his mind about climate change after viewing the damage, he said:

No, no. I have a strong opinion. I want a great climate. I think we’re going to have that and I think we’re going to have forests that are really safe.

The video below was filmed while the President was at the Incident Command Post for the Camp Fire.

On Friday Butte County officials asked those who want to help the thousands of residents who lost all of their belongings, to not donate clothing or other items, but to send cash. The logistics of accepting clothes, including cleaning, storage, and redistribution, are very space and time consuming, especially in light of the rain that is in the forecast. “Shelter and drop-off locations are at capacity and cannot take any more items!” the county said on its Facebook page.

Below is a map of the Camp Fire, updated at 6:40 p.m. PST November 17, 2018, and then, photos of the mobile home park taken before the fire.
Continue reading “President visits the devastating wildfire at Paradise, California”

Satellite imagery of Camp Fire seven hours after it started

Deer Creek Resources of Chico, California has produced four images that show the Camp Fire about seven hours after it started near Pulga, California on November 8, 2018.  Zeke Lunder used data from LANDSAT 8 with the infrared heat layer to map the location of the fire at 1:10 p.m. PST. By that time it was burning thousands of homes in Paradise.

Click on the photos twice to enlarge them. To help get oriented take note of the north indicator that is at the top-right on three of the four photos. Presumably north is at the top in the other photo.

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Camp Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.

Smoke obscures some areas, as Mr. Lunder wrote, but it appears that significant spotting was occurring. During that seven-hour period the wind was out of the northeast at 8 to 15 mph gusting at 21 to 35 mph. At noon the relative humidity was 13 percent. A few hours before the fire started the wind was from the northeast at 32 gusting up to 52.

Here is more information about the fuels that the fire was burning through in the first few hours.

CAL  FIRE has not released the cause of the fire but Pacific Gas & Electric disclosed to the Public Utilities Commission that one of their high voltage power lines had a disruption in service on Pulga Road near the Camp Fire at 6:15 a.m. the day it started, November 8. The burn pattern along with the wind direction would lead one to believe that it is likely that the point of origin of the fire was in the general vicinity of Pulga Road and the small community of Pulga, but this is not confirmed. The fire was reported at 6:29 a.m.

The Camp and Woolsey Fires have burned more than 10,000 structures

The death toll increased Thursday evening to a total of 66 for the two fires in California.

map destroyed homes structures camp fire paradise california
Red icons represent structures that are more than 50 percent burned in the Paradise and Magalia areas of the Camp Fire. The full zoomable map is HERE, where a person can search for individual addresses.

(UPDATED at 8:07 p.m. PST November 15, 2018)

Thursday evening fire authorities updated some of the information about the Camp Fire which has devastated areas around the town of Paradise, California. According to the Butte County Sheriff’s Office the number of fatalities has risen to 63, an increase of 7 over the last 24 hours. And surprisingly, the number that are unaccounted for changed from 130 to 631. Some of those could be in shelters, relocated to another part of the state, or without means of communication.

As of Thursday evening the fire has destroyed 9,700 single residences, 118 multi-residences, and 290 commercial structures, for a total of 10,108 buildings.

According to CAL FIRE, the Camp fire has burned 141,000 acres, an increase of exactly 1,000 acres in 24 hours.


(Originally published at 8:25 a.m. PST November 15, 2018)

A total of more than a quarter of a million acres have burned in the Woolsey and Camp Fires in California.

About 460 workers and 22 cadaver dogs are assessing the path that the Camp Fire took as it devastated the town of Paradise in Northern California on November 8. The estimated number of homes destroyed in the blaze is fluid and keeps rising, reaching 8,756 Thursday morning with another 260 commercial structures destroyed. The fatalities the crews have discovered has risen to 56, with 130 people still unaccounted for.

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Woolsey Fire, including the most recent, click HERE. For the Camp Fire, click HERE.

For the last several days the Camp Fire has continued to spread on the north and east sides, at a slower rate than earlier, but still adding thousands of acres each day. CAL FIRE is saying the fire has burned 140,000 acres.

ESRI and CAL FIRE, working with local emergency service providers, have established a mapping system that displays the status of structures affected by the Camp Fire. It is still a work in progress and is far from complete, as the workers survey the more than 10,000 homes in the Paradise and Magalia areas. Residents can view the map and search for addresses at the internet site.

Some of the refugees from the Camp Fire who have not been allowed into the burned area are living in temporary shelters and camping in parking lots of Walmart and other businesses.

In southern California, the Woolsey Fire has grown very little in the last couple of days, but unburned islands of vegetation occasionally ignite and put up substantial smoke columns. Officials estimate that 504 structures have been destroyed, but a survey that was 25 percent complete Wednesday evening found 370 that were confirmed to have burned. The numbers have not been broken out by residences, outbuildings, and commercial structures.

At about 12:20 Thursday morning a firefighter on the Woolsey Fire was struck by a passing civilian vehicle on the Pacific Coast Highway and was flown to Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks. The injuries for the firefighter, who was from South Kitsap Fire and Rescue in Washington, were non-life threatening. Officials said it was not a hit and run incident.

On Wednesday fire officials raised the death total to three on the Woolsey Fire. CAL FIRE is saying the blaze has burned 98,362 acres.

Camp Fire continues to spread to the north and east

The number of fatalities within the fire area increases to 42

Camp Fire
Camp Fire. Photo credit: CAL FIRE.

The Camp Fire continues to march farther to the east and north as the dry, windy weather hangs on in California. Monday the blaze grew by about half a mile along most of the north and east perimeter. It was most active east of Highway 70, south of Stirling City, and on both sides of Lake Oroville.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Camp Fire, including the most recent, click here.)

CAL FIRE said Tuesday morning the fire has burned 125,000 acres.

The number of civilian fatalities within the fire area has increased by 13 on Monday to bring the total to 42. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea has not said the number of deaths is likely to increase, but he has requested additional cadaver dogs, portable morgue units, and about 150 additional search and rescue personnel to assist in the search for human remains. About 200 people remain unaccounted for.

Fire officials estimate that the structures destroyed include 6,522 single residences, 85 multi-residences, and 260 commercial buildings.

CAL FIRE has released a map that shows the status of structures affected by the Camp Fire. The new map is still incomplete and is a work in progress.

firefighters fire trucks wildfire Camp Fire
Firefighters came from long distances to assist suppress the Camp Fire, CAL FIRE photo.

The resources assigned to the fire include 622 fire engines, 97 hand crews, 21 helicopters, 107 dozers, and 71 water tenders for a total of 5,139 personnel.

map Camp Fire November 12 2018
The red line on the map was the perimeter of the Camp Fire at 10 p.m. PST November 12, 2018. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.