Tag Archives: wildfire season

Smoke from Western Fires Fuels Dangerous Air Quality | Corona, CA

Over 90 large fires across seven states are triggering alerts over poor air

By Zach Rosenthal | September 13, 2022 at 1:56 p.m. EDT

Dangerous blazes continue to spread across the West, with 93 large fires burning in seven states.

As smoke plumes rise into the skies, alerts for hazardous air quality are in effect in parts of Oregon, Washington state, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. A special weather statement about hazardous air quality was also issued in east-central California and western Nevada. The smoke is most dense and toxic near its source but has also expanded in lesser amounts all the way to the East Coast.

Idaho — where the Moose Fire, the nation’s second largest, is burning — leads the pack in terms of large fires, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

Firefighters are battling 34 large fires in the state, followed by 23 in Montana, 13 in Washington, 12 in California and nine in Oregon. Utah and Wyoming each report one large fire.

In Oregon, eyes are on the Cedar Creek Fire, which has grown to more than 86,000 acres after being sparked by lightning Aug. 1. After days of extreme fire growth, the fire remains uncontained. The rapidly spreading blaze has forced nearly 1,500 evacuations, while blanketing nearby cities such as Bend in dangerously high levels of smoke. Smoke from the fire has prompted alerts in south-central Oregon.

Firefighters are also battling the massive Double Creek Fire in Oregon, which has burned more than 155,000 acres and is currently the nation’s largest blaze. That inferno has prompted the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to issue an air quality advisory for the northeastern parts of the state.

Fire and heavy smoke conditions in the West are unlikely to abate anytime soon, as hot and dry conditions have left forests ripe for fire growth. Red-flag warnings have been hoisted for much of eastern Wyoming because of hot, dry conditions conducive to fires.

Hazardous air quality conditions — air quality index (AQI) levels of 301-plus — have been observed in at least five states, including California, where the Mosquito Fire continues to burn between Sacramento and Reno, Nev., in the Sierra Nevada.

The Mosquito Fire has forced officials to evacuate more than 11,000 people. At least 25 homes have already been destroyed by the blaze, which has torched more than 48,700 acres and is just 16 percent contained.

Other active and dangerous fires in California include the Fairview Fire, which still burns close to the town of Hemet, though it is now 56 percent contained. Downpours from the remnants of Tropical Storm Kay have assisted crews in containing that blaze. That fire has burned more than 28,000 acres and killed two people who were trying to flee the blaze.

As more fires in the West are ignited and active fires expand, the smoke can travel as far as the East Coast and in the past has even blown into continental Europe. Wildfire smoke has been found to be surprisingly harmful to people even far from the source. A study published in 2021 found that three-quarters of smoke-related cases of asthma visits to emergency departments and deaths occurred east of the Rocky Mountains.

“Smoke is not just a Western problem,” said Katelyn O’Dell, lead author of the study and postdoctoral research scientist at George Washington University.

O’Dell suggested there may be a “lack of awareness” in the East about the effects of smoke, “because you’re not in proximity to these large wildfires, and they don’t really impact your day-to-day.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration described an “expansive area of light smoke” covering most of the Lower 48 state, except for the far southeast and far southwest on Monday. However, computer simulations indicate much of the smoke in the eastern United States is at relatively high altitudes, meaning it shouldn’t substantially compromise air quality near the ground. But NOAA reported some “moderate to thick smoke” had already reached as far east as Colorado, the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa.

AirNow.gov, which monitors pollution across the country, showed air quality had worsened to “moderate” in portions of Colorado, including Denver, as well as northern Minnesota and western Iowa on Tuesday.

A total of 49,820 wildfires in the United States have burned 6,726,028 acres this year; both of these numbers are ahead of the 10-year average through Sept. 13.

Research has shown that human-caused climate change has contributed to an increase in the frequency of large fires and the size of the area burned by Western wildfires, as fire seasons become longer and more dangerous.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

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.

Preparing Your Suppression Systems for Wildfire Season | Corona, CA

automatic-fire-sprinkler-systems

Now that we are beginning to change from hot summer months to cooler autumn ones, it is important to prepare for the weather changes in order to keep all suppression systems going. After all, it is important for everyone to be prepared for any accident that may occur as a result of unnecessary neglect. This time of year is also notorious for wildfires, so keeping our employees and property safe is of the utmost importance.

The exact maintenance regime needed depends on the suppression system and use case. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) has guidelines not only for the types of systems that should be used in various settings, but also for the ongoing maintenance of those systems for proper compliance and safety purposes.

The type of system installed, and the nature of the building it is protecting, will determine how often it must be inspected, how often it should be tested, and what type of labor will be required on the system over time. A skilled system designer, such as CJ Suppression, will not only design the system, but can also assist you in establishing and meeting the maintenance and inspection requirements in order to keep your system functioning properly so that if a fire were to occur, lives and property can be saved.

Regular maintenance will identify minor problems before they turn into system failures, allowing you to correct them quickly and inexpensively, rather than allowing them to fail. With automatic scheduling of maintenance activities, you never need to worry about surprise fire department inspections – you’ll be up to date, properly maintained, properly inspected, and fully functional whenever the fire department decides to visit.

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.

After years of delays, CalFire says updated and expanded wildfire hazard maps are on their way | Corona, CA

Chris Nichols | Monday, December 20, 2021 | Sacramento, CA

For years, state officials have promised and failed to update maps that show the parts of California most at risk for wildfire. In the more than a dozen years since current maps were released, climate change and climate science have dramatically adjusted our understanding of what might burn.

Now, state officials say the long-awaited updates will land in the next few months.

The stakes for the new fire risk maps are high. Local governments use CalFire’s hazard zones as a guidepost in deciding where new homes and businesses should be approved — or rejected.

Homeowners who live inside high risk zones have to disclose that risk when they decide to sell. They also are required by a new state law to keep their homes fire-proofed — by building out defensible space. The number of homes in those high-risk areas has grown in the last decade. The state’s wildfires now regularly set records in size and destruction. “Fires are burning in ways that nobody has seen before,” said CalFire Chief Thom Porter at an August news conference. “Yes, I keep saying that. You keep hearing that. But it is absolutely true.”

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection last updated its fire hazard severity zone maps in 2007, well before recent record-breaking megafires swept across California. Past mapping focused on geographic hazards such as forests and canyons where fire spreads, according to Daniel Berlant, CalFire’s assistant deputy director. This time, climate hazards are front and center.

“What has changed,” Berlant added, “is these extreme wind events, which carry embers now well past that outer edge [where development intersects with wildlands] into areas that historically were not even designated with a fire hazard level.”

On the maps, which cover all 58 counties, are three color-coded designations: yellow for moderate fire hazard, orange for high hazard and red for very high. This time, CalFire says those zones are likely to be bigger, taking in more Californians and more areas where homes and wildlands meet.

In Santa Rosa, where the Tubbs Fire caused widespread urban damage, homeowner Brian Fies is waiting anxiously for CalFire’s new maps. Fies’ home burned to the ground in 2017, and he wrote a memoir about his loss called A Fire Story. Eventually, he rebuilt on the same land.

“Climate change is making risk a moving target,” Fies said. “Places that used to be safe aren’t safe anymore, and firefighters need to understand and reflect that change.”

New maps will have big impact

Local governments use CalFire’s hazard zones to help decide where new homes and businesses should be approved. Inside these zones, developers must follow the state’s strict and more costly fire safety rules, known as the 7A codes.

Those codes require:

  • Wider roads, more access to water supplies, and more road and directional signs.
  • More costly materials for new home construction, including walls, roofs and eaves that can resist flying embers and heat from fire.
  • Clearing 100 feet of defensible space around buildings; and 
  • Disclosure that a piece of property is within a fire zone when it’s sold.

Local governments have argued that expanding the hazard zones will make it harder to meet state targets for new affordable housing, said Staci Heaton, a regulatory affairs advocate with the Rural County Representatives of California. “The state’s telling [counties] they have to build so many housing units per year,” she said. “Even in the high fire hazard severity zones, they have to strike that balance between fire mitigation and also building these low-income housing units.”

For homeowners within hazard zones, Heaton argued life is likely to be more difficult. Homes in risky areas are more likely to lose their electricity when the wind picks up, she says, because utility companies may target their neighborhoods for planned power shut offs.

And Heaton expects some property owners could find their homes uninsurable. “Once those fire maps get finalized, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more non-renewals,” she said. “We’re already seeing a lot of homeowner insurance non-renewals in our communities.”

‘We want to get the science right’

CalFire officials maintain that they’re focused on precision, not politics, in drawing the new hazard zones, which were anticipated in 2020. “We want to get the science right,” Berlant said. “Unfortunately, building that science into a model has taken us a lot longer than we had originally projected.”

The update will incorporate extreme weather models that didn’t exist when the current maps were developed nearly two decades ago. But critics like Rick Halsey, director of the California Chaparral Institute, a nonprofit environmental group, say CalFire has long had the capacity to make the maps more accurate and relevant. “To have [the old maps] still hanging around is pretty inexcusable,” he said. Halsey added that the existing maps are both outdated and flawed.

In Santa Rosa, the Tubbs Fire burned the Fountaingrove neighborhood, just as the Hanly Fire had in 1964, and a blaze before that in 1908. “This is what’s so tragic: That area burned twice before, virtually in the same footprint in the previous 100 years,” Halsey said. “And so why that history wasn’t incorporated into the fire severity maps is a mystery to me.”

Approximately 95% of structures seriously damaged in California wildfires from 2013 through 2020 took place inside either federal, state or local fire hazard zones, according to data provided by CalFire. Dave Sapsis, CalFire’s wildland fire scientist in charge of the maps, points out that the state’s hazard maps proved highly accurate in predicting where structures would burn during California’s recent wildfires.

But he also acknowledged that the map for Santa Rosa should have incorporated historical burn risk better. “Our existing model right now works almost all the time except when it doesn’t,” Sapsis said. “And that was a fairly sizable miss.”

Complicating things for the public, CalFire’s maps only show state fire hazard zones and some local hazard zones, but not those designated by the federal government.

Because of climate change, CalFire’s Sapsis expects to update hazard maps more often in the future.  “That hazard is increasing with time,” Sapsis explained. “The fire environment is getting worse. It’s getting drier, it’s getting windier.”

Berlant, CalFire’s assistant deputy director, said the agency would unveil the new maps to county governments “as early as the beginning of next year.”

In Santa Rosa, homeowner Brian Fies says state and local governments should put the map in every mailbox. “In my opinion they should push it,” Fies said. “Not just passively provided, not just it’s available on, you know, Page 312 of the county’s website, but they should push it.”

Fies’ neighborhood wasn’t in a high-risk zone on the CalFire map when he rebuilt. But he’s worried about what the updated maps may reveal. “It seems like nowhere in the western half of North America is there a safe place anymore,” Fies added. “It’s difficult, even in the suburbs.”

For more information about CalFire map updates, 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.

After California’s 3rd-largest wildfire, deer returned home while trees were ‘still smoldering’ | Corona, CA

Michelle Ma – UW News | October 28, 2021

When a massive wildfire tears through a landscape, what happens to the animals?

While many animals have adapted to live with wildfires of the past — which were smaller, more frequent and kept ecosystems in balance across the West — it’s unclear to scientists how animals are coping with today’s unprecedented megafires. More than a century of fire suppression coupled with climate change has produced wildfires that are now bigger and more severe than before.

In a rare stroke of luck, researchers from the University of Washington, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, were able to track a group of black-tailed deer during and after California’s third-largest wildfire, the 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire. The megafire, which torched more than 450,000 acres in northern California, burned across half of an established study site, making it possible to record the movements and feeding patterns of deer before, during and after the fire. The results were published Oct. 28 in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

“We don’t have much information on what animals do while the flames are burning, or in the immediate days that follow after wildfires,” said co-lead author Kaitlyn Gaynor, a postdoctoral researcher at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at UC Santa Barbara. “It was kind of a happy accident that we were able to see what these animals were doing during the wildfire and right after, when it was still just a desolate landscape.”

The researchers were surprised by what they learned. Of the 18 deer studied, all survived. Deer that had to flee the flames returned home, despite some areas of the landscape being completely burned and void of vegetation to eat. Most of the deer returned home within hours of the fire, while trees were still smoldering.

Having access to this location information — from previously placed wildlife cameras and GPS collars — is rare when studying how animals respond to extreme and unpredictable events, like megafires.

“There are very few studies that aim to understand the short-term, immediate responses of animals to wildfires. When a fire sweeps through and dramatically changes the landscape, its impact in those initial days is undervalued and absent in the published literature,” said co-lead author Samantha Kreling, a doctoral student at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

The study took place northwest of Sacramento at the University of California’s Hopland Research and Extension Center, where the researchers were studying the movements of black-tailed deer. Before the Mendocino Complex Fire started, the team had placed tracking collars on 18 deer and positioned several dozen motioned-activated wildlife cameras across the area.

On July 27, 2018, the research team based in Hopland saw smoke nearby. Within hours, they were told to leave immediately and not return to the property, as large flames swept through. In total, a little over half of the research center’s land was burned by the Mendocino Complex Fire that was, at the time, California’s largest wildfire.

Kreling, who needed data from the site for her senior-year undergraduate thesis at UC Berkeley, decided to pivot — or, in the words of her collaborators, “turn lemons into lemonade.” The wildlife tracking technology and photos allowed Kreling and co-authors instead to look at how deer change their use of space during and immediately after large disturbances like wildfires, and how this event influenced their body condition and survival.

“Seeing the drastic changes on the landscape got me wondering what it’s like for animals on the land to actually deal with the repercussions of having an event like this sweep through,” Kreling said. “Having the infrastructure in place was very useful to see what happened before, compared to what happened after.”

Despite the challenges of having little to eat, all of the deer returned soon after the fire. Deer from burned areas had to work harder and travel farther to find green vegetation, and researchers noticed a decline in body condition in some of these animals. Still, their loyalty to home is a tactic that likely helped this species survive past wildfires.

It’s unknown whether this loyalty-to-home strategy will prove helpful, or harmful, in the future. Smaller wildfires encourage new vegetation growth — tasty for deer — but massive wildfires can actually destroy seed banks, which reduces the amount of plants available to eat. In this case, some of the deer that had to expand their home range to eat did so at the expense of their body condition.

“These deer have evolved this behavioral strategy that has clearly worked for them, but the big question mark is, as fires get more intense and frequent, will this behavior actually trap animals in these habitats that are seeing massive disturbances on the scale of nothing that has happened before in their evolutionary history,” Gaynor said.

The specific patterns observed with these deer likely can’t be applied to other large mammals in different regions, the authors said. But it’s an interesting case study to explore what extreme disturbances, like large wildfires, might mean for animals. Meanwhile, co-author Kendall Calhoun, a doctoral student at UC Berkeley, is continuing to look at the long-term effects of the fire on the health and reproductive capacity of this population of deer, which is still being tracked.

Other co-authors are Alex McInturff and Justin Brashares at UC Berkeley. This research was funded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. For more information, contact Kreling at skreling@uw.edu and Gaynor at gaynor@nceas.ucsb.edu.

For more information about fire escape plans, 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.

These California Communities Face the Highest Fire Risk | Corona, CA

From pricey gated neighborhoods to rural logging towns.

By Soumya Karlamangla \ Sept. 29, 2021

More than the videos of flying embers and glowing red skies, the images that still haunt me from the 2018 Camp fire are of cars lined up along exit routes, as people desperate to escape discovered they were trapped.

The fire destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people, becoming the deadliest fire in California history. It’s a tragedy that raises an important question as California’s fire season appears to worsen each year: Can we predict the next Paradise?

There are a few ways to think about this, from looking at a region’s risk of megafires to its number of evacuation routes.

California officials rank an area’s wildfire risk — based on its vegetation, fire history and topography — as either moderate, high or very high. More than 2.7 million Californians live in parts of the state deemed very high risk, painted in bright red on the state’s wildfire danger map.

“These designations have proven eerily predictive about some of the state’s most destructive wildfires in recent years,” reads a 2019 analysis put together by several California newsrooms, pointing out that “nearly all of Paradise is colored in bright red.”

California is home to more than 75 communities, including Paradise, where at least 90 percent of residents live in these very high-risk swaths, the analysis found. The extremely fire-prone towns include:

  • Rancho Palos Verdes, Calabasas, La Cañada Flintridge, Palos Verdes Estates and Malibu in Los Angeles County
  • South Lake Tahoe and Pollock Pines in El Dorado County (both were evacuated in recent weeks)
  • Lake Arrowhead in San Bernardino County
  • Kensington in Contra Costa County

But there’s more to the story. This list covers places where a fire is most likely to break out, but it doesn’t reflect what happens once one does.

There were six exit routes in Paradise, but the fast-moving fire closed some and mass evacuations created traffic jams on the roads that were usable.

(It’s important to note that while traffic slowed evacuations in Paradise, fewer than 10 people who died were in their cars apparently trying to flee, according to an investigation by the Butte County district attorney. Most of those killed were older people in their homes.)

Across California, approximately 350,000 people live in fire zones that have no more evacuation routes per person than Paradise, according to the 2019 analysis. The places with relatively few exit routes include:

  • Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Pacific Palisades and Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County
  • Newbury Park, Oak Park and Moorpark in Ventura County
  • Carmel Valley and Jamesburg in Monterey County
  • Jamul, Ramona and Scripps Ranch in San Diego County
  • Big Bear, Minnelusa and Sugarloaf in San Bernardino County

Still, there are some important caveats here.

Just because there are exit routes doesn’t mean people will actually use all of them. In an emergency, many people are likely to opt for roads they know best, which could lead to traffic jams on the more popular ways out of town.

So, this summer, StreetLight Data, an analytics company in San Francisco, did a slightly different analysis.

Its researchers tallied exit routes in each community and measured their typical traffic loads using GPS data from cellphones. That allowed them to predict which routes people would be most likely to take during an evacuation.

StreetLight identified 15 places in California with more constrained evacuation routes than Paradise, ranging from some of the state’s most expensive gated neighborhoods to remote logging towns.

“It really cuts across income levels and terrain,” Martin Morzynski, the company’s vice president for marketing, told me. “When it’s smoky, things are hectic, what have you, people tend to take the road they know.”

The five places with the most limited evacuation routes were:

  • Bell Canyon in Ventura County
  • Brooktrails in Mendocino County
  • Lake California in Tehama County
  • North Shore in Riverside County
  • Coto De Caza in Orange County

Three major blazes have whipped through Bell Canyon, a hilly gated community home to about 2,000 residents, since Tim Brehm moved there in 1980.

Brehm, a retired high school teacher, prepares his home each year by clearing brush and maintaining hundreds of feet of defensible space around his home.

He knows there are two exit routes out of Bell Canyon but has never used either. He has always stayed behind to defend his property, though he acknowledged that fires appear to be growing more belligerent.

“I always have a viable escape plan: Keep my keys in my pocket and my truck is right there,” Brehm told me. “If everything goes south, then I’ll just get in my truck and go.”

How to prepare for wildfires:

  • Pack your go bag.
  • Ready your home.
  • Track wildfires near you.

For more information about wildfire 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.

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.