Tag Archives: Southern California fire season

California’s Oak Fire destroys at least 42 structures as it burns more than 18,000 acres near Yosemite National Park | Corona, CA

By Elizabeth Wolfe and Steve Almasy, CNN | Updated 8:29 PM ET, Wed July 27, 2022

(CNN)California’s Oak Fire has burned through more than 18,000 acres and destroyed more than 40 structures since it ignited near Yosemite National Park Friday, as fire crews in the air battle visibility issues and personnel on the groundwork steep terrain.

The fire grew only slightly Tuesday — to 18,532 acres and containment remained at 26%, according to an update from state fire management agency Cal Fire.

“Although good progress continues on the fire, there is much work to be done,” the update said. Officials said several evacuation orders had been changed to fire advisements.

Some areas are not accessible to bulldozers so crews on foot cut in a fire line, and smoke from the fire hampered the response from the 24 helicopter units involved.

One firefighter stood Wednesday morning by a spot where they had been able to stop the flames from advancing.

“For the past two days what we’ve been doing is coming back with hoes and … hand tools. We dig out all the smokes and hot spots to make sure that nothing ends up on … the green side (where vegetation wasn’t burned),” firefighter Travis Gooch told CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus. “It’s kind of a relief that everything is kind of looking like it’s holding up the way it’s supposed to.”

Gooch, who is from Manteca, said he and his team work overnight and slept for about an hour on their firetrucks.

“The first night we were here, no one slept,” he said. “So, last night to get to sleep for an hour. It was nice. Everyone is looking forward to going back to camp and getting to sleep for today.”

There have been no firefighter injuries reported since the blaze began, the cause of which is under investigation.

A total of 42 single residence structures and 19 outbuildings have been destroyed in the fire, the update said. More than 1,100 structures remain threatened.

On Tuesday morning, Cal Fire officials said in the overnight incident report: “Fire crews continue providing structure defense, extinguishing hot spots, and building and improving direct lines. Persistent drought, critically dry fuels, and tree mortality continue to contribute to the fire’s spread.”

More than 3,000 personnel are tackling the fire, deploying air and land efforts including two dozen helicopters, 286 fire engines, 68 water tenders and 94 bulldozers, according to Cal Fire.

The challenging terrain and abundant dry vegetation fueling the fire has complicated efforts to tamp down its growth, Cal Fire spokesperson Cpt. Keith Wade told CNN Monday.

“The footprint out here, the acreage of available fuels to burn when the fire gets going, along with the available topography — the canyons, the drainages — the wind that flows through these areas, can make the fire behavior erratic and it can explode … the ferociousness of that fire at times can be intense,” Wade said.

The Oak Fire is the largest of California’s fire season so far, Cal Fire data shows. But it remains relatively small compared to other California wildfires in recent years: It’s dwarfed, for example, by blazes like last year’s Dixie Fire, which consumed more than 960,000 acres, or the August Complex Fire the year prior that scorched more than a million acres — the state’s largest ever.

There have been 23 wildfires in California so far this month, according to Cal Fire, but only three have exceeded 500 acres. None have come close to the mass destruction of the Oak Fire, due in part to the exceedingly dry conditions in the area, Wade said.

“I think the real difference that firefighters are experiencing on this one is how dry everything is, it’s definitely been (drier) as the years have been going on,” he said. “We’ve noticed that there seems to be less precipitation, less moisture and the available fuel load is definitely out there.”

The fire’s rapid growth has also made evacuation efforts more difficult, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon Heggie told CNN on Monday, noting officials and law enforcement are doing their best to notify residents when they need to leave.

“The reality is, it’s moving so quickly, it’s not giving people a lot of time and they are sometimes just going to have to evacuate with the shirts on their back,” Heggie said.

The incremental progress made by fire crews has allowed officials to reduce evacuation orders in some areas to fire advisements, Cal Fire said.

An evacuation shelter has been set up at Mariposa Elementary School for displaced residents.

Mariposa County has been under a state of emergency since Saturday, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the proclamation.

Southern California fire officials have been expecting this summer to bring an especially challenging fire season due to the increased frequency of wildfires and the dry, hot conditions in much of the state.

Heggie attributed the Oak Fire’s “velocity and intensity” to the state’s prolonged drought and human-caused climate change.

“What I can tell you is this is a direct result of what is climate change,” he said. “You can’t have a 10-year drought in California and expect things to be the same. And we are now paying the price for that 10-year drought and that climate change.”

California is among the western states that have been suffering under a prolonged megadrought that has been heavily exacerbated by the climate crisis.

“That dead fuel that’s a result from that climate change and that drought is what’s driving these, what we are now calling, ‘mega fires,'” Heggie said.

It’s not just the Western US dealing with extreme fire conditions. Wildfires around the globe have intensified and become more commonplace, according to a report from the UN Environment Programme. The report’s analysis found the number of extreme wildfire events will increase by 30% by 2050.

The report suggested it’s time we “learn to live with fire,” urging authorities and policymakers to cooperate with local communities to use Indigenous knowledge and invest in planning and prevention efforts.

CNN’s Poppy Harlow, Taylor Romine, Stella Chan, Sara Smart and Rachel Ramirez contributed to this report.

For more information about the Oak fire, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

California warned of critical fire weather danger as interior swelters in high heat | Corona, CA

A large swath of the interior of California was warned of wildfire danger and high heat on Tuesday.

Red flag warnings of critical fire weather conditions were in effect in the Sacramento Valley and foothills of the coastal range and the Sierra Nevada due to northerly winds and low relative humidity, the Sacramento weather office said.

The National Weather Service also said much of the same area would be under a heat advisory from noon Tuesday until 11 p.m. Wednesday. Predicted high temperatures ranged from 95 degrees to 105 degrees.

Heat advisories will extend south through the San Joaquin Valley on Wednesday.

“Today into Wednesday the weather will be hot, dry and windy,” the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office tweeted Tuesday. “There is a Red Flag Warning in effect through Wednesday morning.”

The San Francisco Bay Area was not under the advisories, but forecasts called for hot and dry weather Tuesday, with near-critical fire conditions in the North Bay interior mountains and the East Bay hills.

Tuesday, Southern California fire investigators were seeking the cause of a blaze that destroyed a large home and five rental cabins near Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains.

About three-quarters of an acre burned in the Hook Creek area on Monday, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said in a statement.

The two-story home and the cabins were vacant at the time, and there were no injuries to firefighters or citizens, the department said.

Last week, a fire near the community of Dunnigan, northwest of Sacramento in Yolo County, surged through 120 acres of grassland before it was contained Friday afternoon.

In the Sierra Nevada foothills, the Golden Fire prompted some evacuations and closed State Route 49, known as the Golden Chain Highway, south of the small town of Camptonville.

Yuba County authorities said the fire reached 26 acres before it was stopped from spreading and was 20% contained. The fire started in a building and spread to the wildlands, authorities said. No other buildings were damaged.

Tahoe National Forest reported that federal, state and local crews were battling the flames.

And on May 11, a destructive wildfire erupted in the coastal community of Laguna Niguel, burning at least 20 multimillion-dollar homes as it grew to 199 acres.

Various utilities’ electrical equipment has repeatedly been linked to the ignition of disastrous California wildfires, especially during windy weather. Southern California Edison has advised state utility regulators that unspecified electrical “circuit activity” occurred around the time a destructive wildfire erupted in the coastal community.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

For more information about grilling fire safety, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

California bracing for what could be another bad fire season. What to expect as weather warms up | Corona, CA

Jessica Skropanic | Redding Record Searchlight

Much of California is already in wildfire season after an extremely dry winter left vegetation brittle and water levels low. With winds and hot temperatures in the forecast starting this week, and no rain or snow expected in the near future, conditions aren’t likely to improve, fire experts said.

Statewide, firefighters battled 925 fires from Jan. 1 to April 1 — about the same as those dates in 2021, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. However, the acreage destroyed this year is almost double what burned during those months last year.

“Most of the state is already in moderate to extreme drought,” said Cheryl Buliavac, fire prevention specialist at Cal Fire’s Shasta-Trinity Unit. This year’s fire season could be worse than last year’s.

By Saturday, winds pick up to 40 mph and weekday heat will have dried out the North State, pushing fire danger to what the weather service considers moderate levels.

“Vegetation is as dry now as it would be in a normal year in mid-June,” Buliavac said. That’s in part because precipitation forecasted over winter didn’t arrive or dropped less rain than expected.

It’s not just one dry season that’s making 2022 potentially worse for fire than 2021, said Karl Swanberg at the weather service in Sacramento. “It’s a combination of conditions overall.”

Some portions of the North State got more rain this winter than last year, he said.

15.44 inches of rain fell on Redding from Oct. 1, 2021, to April 6, 2022

13.27 inches fell from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021

What’s making 2022 worse is having two very dry years back-to-back, both well below the 28.54 inches of rain per year considered normal, Swanberg said. The cumulative effect is stretching out the fire season even longer.

Extremely windy conditions this winter further dried out thirsty trees and brush, Buliavac said. “It’s very concerning because we were under similar conditions the last few summers.” While fire danger is still present in Sacramento and the southern Sacramento Valley, that area appears slightly greener and less dry than the north valley, Swanberg said.

Snowpack levels dropped to 16% of their historic average throughout the Scott River sub-basin in the Klamath National Forest, west of Yreka, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s latest measurements, taken throughout the basin on April 1, when the snowpack is at its maximum.

Less snow means less water for communities and farmers — not only in Siskiyou County, but at lower elevations in Trinity and Shasta counties. The latter rely on meltwater to raise humidity levels and water vegetation. Without a good snowpack, there’s not enough slow meltwater running down the mountains into the valley, Buliavac said.

North coast forecast

Coastal residents are seeing fire risk grow starting this week, too. Temperatures soared into the high 80s, drying out the historically humid San Francisco Bay Area, according to the weather service.

This weekend, strong offshore winds will further dry vegetation, increasing the potential for fire starts and spreads.

Surrounding areas, including the North Bay, won’t fare better, the weather service said. Wind gusts out of the north and northeast could reach 70 mph over Napa and Contra Costa counties late Saturday into early Sunday.

Relief could come Monday, when up to half an inch of rain could fall, the weather service said, but warm dry spells and wild winds will likely visit again this year.

Further up the coast, inland areas such as Ukiah are reaching the low 90s. That’s definitely warm for April, said Jonathan Garner, meteorologist with the weather service in Eureka.

Vegetation is still green, so fire danger is less in the northwest corner of the state, he said.

Statewide in 2021, firefighters battled 8,835 fires that destroyed 2,568,948 acres. Nine of the 10 largest fires were in Northern California, including the 963,309-acre Dixie Fire which burned in five counties, the 223,124-acre Monument Fire in Trinity County and the 221,835-acre Caldor Fire east of Sacramento to Lake Tahoe.

How to prepare for fire season

Cal Fire encourages residents to prepare for fire season:

  • Property owners should consider creating defensible space early in the year, before temperatures soar. For more information go to the Cal Fire website at bit.ly/3x6ttzy.
  • Prepare a “go” bag in the event of an evacuation. If you never unpacked last year’s bag, replace anything that expired: Batteries, food, water, pet food, etc.
  • Make sure to plan two ways to get out of your home and two routes out of your neighborhood.

For more ways to prepare for fire season go to Cal Fire’s Ready for Wildfire website at readyforwildfire.org.

For more information about fire safety, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

What Winter’s Dry Spell Means for California’s Fire Season | Corona, CA

This winter’s extreme rainfall and dryness might average out to near-normal levels of precipitation. But that’s no insurance policy against fire, scientists say.

By Livia Albeck-Ripka | March 1, 2022

When rain pummeled California in October, many breathed a sigh of relief: At least in some parts of the state, the worst of the fire season, experts said, was most likely over. The following month, however, precipitation was scarce. In December, it rained again, smashing records. Now, some parts of the state have barely seen another drop of water since early January.

“It has been both an unusually dry and an unusually wet winter,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Nature Conservancy.

But what do these ups and downs mean for California’s next fire season? The answer is complicated. Before October, a vast majority of California was considered to be in “exceptional” or “extreme” drought (the highest rankings, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor). So, when meteorological conditions known as “atmospheric rivers” drenched parts of the state in October and December, much of that water was sucked up by the parched landscape.

The hot and windy conditions that followed also led the rain to evaporate quickly, drying out the vegetation that fuels fires. California’s rising snowpack, which provides moisture to the ecosystem as it melts in the spring, has since plummeted.

Historically, California’s fire season lasted a few months during the hottest part of the year. But recently it has become more year-round. In January, typically one of California’s wettest months, a wildfire swept through Big Sur, a mountainous coastal region south of San Francisco, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate. The scene was “pretty surreal” given California’s wet October and December, the National Weather Service said on Twitter at the time.

But though the extreme rainfall and dryness might average out to near-normal levels of precipitation, that’s no insurance policy against fire, scientists say. As global temperatures warm, even in wet years, hot weather can ultimately dry out vegetation to produce droughtlike conditions.

“We still get dry years and wet years, but we don’t really get cold years anymore,” Swain said. He added, “No matter what, everything still dries out.”

For now, the dry spell has a small silver lining. The lack of rain gives fire authorities more opportunity to conduct prescribed burns that help to reduce the worst impacts of fires during the summer. And fires that ignite spontaneously during these colder months are also likely to be less intense, and can help to avert worse fires in hot, dry conditions. But without rain in the coming days or weeks, the state could begin relapsing further into drought. Last year, historically low rainfall and ongoing drought helped cause a brutal fire season that lasted several months and burned 2.6 million acres.

“I don’t think March is going to somehow bail us out,” Swain said of the likelihood that generous rain in the coming weeks would help stave off intense fires this year.

“We’re seeing bad fire years almost every year,” he added.

For more information about CA fire season, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Chaparral Fire: Evacuations in Effect as Fire Burns in North San Diego County | Corona, CA

By: City News Service Posted at 10:51 AM, Aug 30, 2021 and last updated 2:24 PM, Aug 30, 2021

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — A brush fire straddling San Diego and Riverside counties had burned 1,500 acres and was 13% contained Monday, with some evacuation orders remaining in place along with a smoke advisory.

The wildfire started at 25 acres near the edge of the Cleveland National Forest on Saturday afternoon near Tenaja and Cleveland Forest roads. It exploded to 1,427 acres by 2:30 p.m. Monday. The Riverside County Fire Department reported that one firefighter has suffered minor injuries and two structures were destroyed.

Evacuation orders were in place for areas north of the Tenaja Truck Trail, south of Calle Cielo, east of Calle Collado and west of Calle Be Bietol, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. Evacuation warning were also in place for those north of Tenaja Road, west of Calle Pino/Gallop Lane, south of Hombre Lane and west of Cleveland National Forest Road.

An evacuation center was established at Murrieta Valley High School, 42200 Nighthawk Way, fire officials said.

Small animals can be taken to Animal Friends of the Valleys, 33751 Mission Trail in Wildomar. Large animals can be taken to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter, 581 S. Grand Ave., in San Jacinto.

Firefighters were battling the flames from the ground and air, including the use of four air tankers. Fire crews from the U.S. Forest Service, Murrieta, Hemet and Corona were assisting the 150 firefighters from San Diego and Riverside counties.

The Orange County Fire Authority tweeted a picture of one of its helicopters making a water drop over a home. The smoke could be seen from Orange and San Diego counties.

For more information about home hardening tips, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

What to Know About the Dixie Fire | Corona, CA

Tuesday: Although it rained on Monday, fire season is well underway. And the state’s biggest blaze is burning near areas scarred from the Camp Fire.

By Jill Cowan | July 27, 2021

Good morning.

There may have been rare July showers in parts of California on Monday. But make no mistake: The drought is still a threat. And fire season is underway.

The Dixie Fire, California’s largest wildfire this year, continued to burn through thousands of acres of rough terrain, prompting evacuation orders and threatening communities in a region scarred by the memory of the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest in the state’s history.

More than 5,400 firefighters were battling the Dixie Fire, which merged over the weekend with another nearby blaze, the Fly Fire, and had burned through about 200,000 acres, according to Cal Fire, the state’s fire agency.

That’s an area a little larger than New York City, and about half of the acreage burned by the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, the nation’s largest this year. But the Bootleg Fire is burning in a more remote area; 300 people live within five miles of that blaze, according to The New York Times’s wildfire tracker, compared with 4,900 within five miles of the Dixie Fire.

The Dixie Fire started more than a week ago, just a couple of miles from the spot where the Camp Fire ignited, said Rick Carhart, a spokesman for Cal Fire in Butte County. That fire killed more than 80 people and all but leveled the remote town of Paradise.

“There really is so much — there’s no other word for it — PTSD,” Mr. Carhart said. “There’s so much anxiety.”

A stream of firefighting helicopters taking off from a nearby airport in recent days has flown over Magalia, a community that was also devastated by the Camp Fire. Residents there are out of the path of this year’s flames, Mr. Carhart said — but are still afraid.

“They see a helicopter with a bucket attached,” he said. “And it’s, ‘Oh my God, here we go again.’”

The two blazes also bear another chilling similarity: Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility, said last week that blown fuses on one of its utility poles may have sparked the Dixie Fire. PG&E pleaded guilty last year to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for its role in starting the Camp Fire.

Mr. Carhart said that crews have been making progress in controlling the Dixie Fire, and the weather has been more cooperative in recent days than fire officials had predicted. Nevertheless, the size and timing of the blaze — which he said is already the 15th-largest in California’s recorded history — point to a future in which fires won’t be limited to a single season.

“One of the most concerning things about it is how early in the year it is,” Mr. Carhart.

Last year’s record-breaking wildfire season, during which millions of acres burned across California and the West, actually had a below-average start, he said, until widespread lightning strikes ignited tinder-dry vegetation in many remote areas.

Right now, Mr. Carhart said, the thousands of firefighters who are cutting fire lines, dousing hot spots or doing any of the other time-consuming, physically demanding work required of them, are looking at months before there’s likely to be rain, which heralds an end to the most intense fire activity.

In the past, he said, he might have expected a blaze like the Dixie Fire sometime in September — not July.

“We’re all kind of learning that fire season isn’t a three-month or six-month thing anymore,” he said.

For more information about home hardening tips, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Wildfire Season Is Here: Hardening Your House | Corona, CA

With the warmer days, comes the danger of wildfires here in California. It’s a bittersweet kind of season – fantastic for summer fun in the sun, but always a looming stress about the wildfires that ravage our homes every year. Because your home is susceptible to flyaway embers from fires close by, here are a few ways you can prepare your home, in case wildfire strikes:

Roof. The most vulnerable part of your home, roofs with wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire. Use materials such as composition, metal, clay or tile. Block any spaces between roof decking and clear rain gutters to prevent embers from catching and remove accumulated vegetative debris from the roof.

Windows. Install dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage in a fire and install screens in all usable windows to increase ember resistance and decrease radiant heat exposure.

Walls. Wood products, such as boards, panels or shingles, are flammable and not good choices for fire-prone areas. Instead, use stucco, fiber cement wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood, or other approved materials.

Chimney. Cover your chimney and stovepipe outlets with a non-flammable screen. When not in use, close the fireplace flue.

Garage. Have a fire extinguisher and tools such as a shovel, rake, bucket, and hose available for fire emergencies. Also, install weather stripping to prevent flying embers from blowing in.

Fences. Best practice is to separate your fence from your house or upgrade the last 5-feet of the fence to a noncombustible material to reduce the chance of the fence from bringing fire to your home.

For more information about home hardening tips, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Brush Fire in San Bernardino National Forest Stopped at 34 Acres, Temporarily Closes Highway 18 | Corona, CA

By RUBY GONZALES | rugonzales@scng.com and QUINN WILSON | qwilson@scng.com | San Gabriel Valley Tribune PUBLISHED: June 28, 2021 at 1:09 p.m. | UPDATED: June 28, 2021 at 6:54 p.m.

Firefighters on the ground, along with helicopters and planes, battled a brush fire on Monday, June 28, that started when a car crashed near Old Waterman Canyon Road in San Bernardino, temporarily shut down Highway 18 and burned 34 acres.

Update 1: Closure remains in place on SR-18 from 40th to 138 due to #PeakFire. Commuters must use other available routes to get up and down the mountain. It is unknown when closure will lift. #Caltrans8

— Caltrans District 8 (@Caltrans8) June 29, 2021

One firefighter suffered heat injury and was taken to a hospital.

The fire was burning in the forest, said Zach Behrens, a spokesman for the San Bernardino National Forest. There were no evacuations, he added.

The fire’s forward progress was stopped around 1:43 p.m., according to National Forest officials. By around 5:15 p.m., crews had reached 10 percent containment on the blaze.

#PeakFire update: now approximately 24 acres. Highway 18 closure is now in effect from Highway 138 down to 40th street. pic.twitter.com/7YKkN1pgs7

— San Bernardino National Forest (@SanBernardinoNF) June 28, 2021

The fire was reported around 10:50 a.m. off of Old Waterman Canyon Road. It headed west upslope, crossed Highway 18 and moved at a rapid rate, Behrens said.

The fire was determined to be ignited by a single-car crash involving a BMW that quickly spread to the adjacent vegetation, according to Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the National Forest.

“This is a great opportunity to remind people that parking the side of the road where there’s any vegetation at all is not a good idea,” Cox said. “Of course, accidents happen, but if you ever need to pull over be sure to use one of the paved turnouts along highways like (Highway 18).”

Cox said firefighters responded to the initial call regarding the fire, then learned about the car crash. It was not immediately clear if anyone was injured in the crash or the subsequent car fire.

Authorities closed Highway 18, between 40th Street in San Bernardino and Highway 138 in Crestline. The upbound lanes were expected to be fully reopened at 8 p.m. while downbound will have one lane open through Tuesday morning, June 29, Caltrans said.

UPDATE: Upbound 18 will open fully at 8pm tonight. Downbound 18 will have one lane open at 8 pm tonight until further notice. At least through tomorrow morning. https://t.co/ztEmYA2MzV

— Caltrans District 8 (@Caltrans8) June 29, 2021

Behrens said 150 firefighters responded along with five helicopters and nine fixed-wing aircraft.

For more information about fire safety tips, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Tips to Prevent a Summer Fire Issue | Corona, CA

Now that we are beginning to get back into the social events of the summertime, it is important to remember that there are many fire hazards that take place specifically during these hot summer months. So, before you take off for that camping trip or spark up that BBQ, take a look at some fire safety tips to ensure that your summer celebrations go off without injury of loss of personal property.

Camping trips. If you are setting off to spend some quality time in nature, make sure to pack a fire extinguisher in case your campfire gets a bit out of control. Ensure the location of your fire is clean and free of any grassy areas, hanging tree branches or dry brush nearby. Gather small bits of tinder to spark your fire, then use larger pieces of wood to keep the fire going. Once you are ready for bed, douse the fire with water and sand so an accident isn’t going to happen while you sleep.

BBQs. Especially with the 4th of July upon us, BBQs are some of the best ways to celebrate our country’s birthday. Like social distancing, it is important to keep a three-foot distance between the grill and other objects or people that could be harmed if an ember goes rogue. If you use a gas grill, check for leaks. If you prefer charcoal, make sure you keep things outdoors to avoid CO2 poisoning.

Natural disasters. Summertime is the time of year lightning strikes run rampant. Avoid any natural disasters by keeping your landscaping tidy and your gutters clear.

For more information about fire safety tips, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

‘It’s like having gasoline out there’: Grim fire season starts much drier in U.S. West than record-shattering 2020 | Corona, CA

by: Associated Press, Steve Kuzj, Lauren Lyster Posted: May 24, 2021 / 01:14 PM PDT / Updated: May 25, 2021 / 03:49 PM PDT

As bad as last year’s record-shattering fire season was, the western U.S. starts this year’s in even worse shape.

The soil in the West is record dry for this time of year. In much of the region, plants that fuel fires are also the driest scientists have seen. The vegetation is primed to ignite, especially in the Southwest where dead juniper trees are full of flammable needles.

“It’s like having gasoline out there,” said Brian Steinhardt, forest fire zone manager for Prescott and Coconino national forests in Arizona.

A climate change-fueled megadrought of more than 20 years is making conditions that lead to fire even more dangerous, scientists said. Rainfall in the Rockies and farther west was the second lowest on record in April, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It means that the dice are loaded toward a lot of forest fire this year,” said Park Williams, a UCLA climate and fire scientist, who calculated that soil in the western half of the nation is the driest it has been since 1895. “This summer we’re going into fire season with drier fuels than we were at this time last year.”

In addition, the western drought is deepening week by week.

In late March, less than one-third of California was suffering extreme or exceptional drought. Now more than 73% is, according to the National Drought Monitor, which is based on precipitation, temperature, soil moisture and streamflow measurements. A year ago, heading into the record-smashing 2020 fire year when more than 4% of California burned, just 3% of the state was in extreme or exceptional drought.

But the outlook is worse elsewhere.

“I think the Southwest is really primed for a bad fire season,” University of Utah fire scientist Phil Dennison said. That’s because last year’s normal monsoon season, which brings much of the year’s rainfall, never showed up.

A year ago, none of Arizona, Nevada and Utah was in extreme or exceptional drought, but now more than 90% of Utah, 86% of Arizona and 75% of Nevada is in those highest drought categories, according to the drought monitor. New Mexico jumped from 4% extreme or exceptional drought a year ago to more than 77% now.

UCLA meteorologist Daniel Swain, who also works for the National Center for Atmospheric Research and The Nature Conservancy, said key factors going into fire season are soil and plant wetness.

“So is soil moisture very low? Is vegetation extremely dry? Absolutely, yes. Unequivocally, yes. Pretty much everywhere in California and the Southwest,” Swain said. “So that box is checked big time in a way that is going to massively increase the potential background flammability … given a spark, given extreme weather conditions.”

This doesn’t necessarily ensure the 2021 fire season will be worse than 2020. Last year more than 15,800 square miles of the United States burned, an area about the size of Maryland and Delaware combined. Several scientists said last year’s fires were stoked not just by hot, dry conditions, but by unusual situations that made a bad year horrific:

Two intense heat waves — one that nearly set a record for hottest temperature on Earth in Death Valley — set the stage, and a freak California lightning barrage provided lots of spark.

The lightning outbreak was the type that has happened only a few times in history and is unlikely to occur two years in a row, Swain said.

“Maybe it won’t be the hottest summer,” he said, adding. “I’m really grasping at straws here. All we have going for us is dumb luck.”

When the scientists see extremely dry or dying trees, they get even more worried.

In Arizona, junipers are succumbing to the 20-year drought and its two-year intensification, said Joel McMillin, a forest health zone leader for the U.S. Forest Service there. Officials haven’t done a precise count but anecdotally the die-off is 5% to 30% with some patches up to 60%.

Until the dead needles drop to the ground, which takes a year or so, the fire hazard increases, fire manager Steinhardt said. “So you have something that’s highly flammable and it’s … 20-, 30-, 40-foot tall and every single one of those needles on there now becomes an ember that can be launched.”

“This is probably one of the driest and potentially most challenging situations I’ve been in,” said the veteran of 32 fire seasons.

In California, normally drought-tolerant blue oaks are dying around the San Francisco Bay Area, said Scott Stephens, a fire science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “They don’t have access to water. Soil moisture is so low. When you start to see blue oak dying, that gets your attention.”

Human-caused climate change and decades of fire suppression that increases fuel loads are aggravating fire conditions across the West, scientists said.

Global warming has contributed to the megadrought and is making plants more prone to burning.

Normally a good part of the sun’s energy removes water from plants and soil, but when they are already dry, that energy instead makes the air hotter, which creates a feedback loop, Swain said.

And drier conditions lead to beetle infestations that further weaken and kill trees, said University of Utah’s Dennison.

For decades, U.S. firefighting agencies have tried to put out fires as quickly as possible, and that’s usually worked, UCLA’s Williams said. But the practice resulted in the buildup of dense trees, brush and other potential fire fuels.

“Fire is escaping our control increasingly frequently,” he said. “And some of the reason for that might be because of increasing density of fuels. But we also see that these fires are escaping our control during record-breaking heat waves — and it’s the warmest, driest years when we have the hardest time controlling fires.”

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