CA Fires: NorCal Braces For Red Flag Warnings; Power Shutoffs

·10 min read

CALIFORNIA — Dry and warm temperatures are rising to critical levels once again in Northern California this week. Cal Fire bolstered staffing Tuesday and was on "high alert," amid a new Red Flag Warning issued for Northern California.

The Red Flag Warning was issued by the National Weather Service due to critical fire weather beginning Tuesday and through Wednesday morning for gusty winds and low humidity for inland Northern California and the North Bay Area.

PG&E announced Tuesday that more than 7,000 customers in the Bay Area could be subject to another round of Public Safety Power Shutoffs to mitigate elevated wildfire risk.

About 50,000 PG&E customers in 19 counties and two tribal communities statewide could be affected by the shutoff, which may come as early as Wednesday evening.

A Fire Weather Watch also was in effect from Wednesday evening through Friday afternoon for gusty winds and dry warmth for the North Bay Mountains, areas of the East Bay Hills, the Diablo Range and the Santa Cruz Mountains.

A second Fire Weather Watch was active from Wednesday evening through Friday morning across a larger portion of the inland northwest of the state.

"Officials are urging the public to ensure they are prepared for wildfires, as well as take all precautions outdoors to prevent sparking a wildfire," Cal Fire said Tuesday.

A mere 7,000 firefighters were working to suppress 12 major fires Tuesday across the state. This time last month, more than 17,000 firefighters were working to battle dozens of fires burning out of control.

While the number of first responders assigned to major fires has been declining gradually each day, California isn't out of the woods yet. A fire weather watch for much of Northern California went into effect late Monday night and will last until Wednesday morning, Cal Fire officials said.

READ MORE: 7,000 In Bay Area Could Lose Power In Possible Shutoff

Coastal areas experienced a bit of a cooling trend over the weekend and into Monday, but the dry heat is expected to persist in the north and inland.

"Above-normal temperatures and lack of humidity recovery will persist this week in much of California, with only the coastal regions experiencing some relief," Cal Fire officials said Monday morning. "There is a chance of some light precipitation arriving this weekend."

Many of the major fires that sent tens of thousands fleeing from their homes and prompted Cal Fire to bolster staffing weeks ago have been contained to more than 90 percent and were no longer threatening communities.

But on Sunday alone, firefighters responded to 47 new wildfires. Crews were able to extinguish all but two of them, which were still burning in El Dorado and Monterey counties Monday morning.

An Oct. 1 NASA image taken by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the NOAA-20 satellite showed the widespread smoke billowing from fires ignited in late September in Northern California.

On the same day, Environmental Protection Agency’s Airnow system reported that many sensors across the state had detected unhealthy air between 150 and 200 on the air quality index.

Although the state was experiencing some reprieve from massive fires Monday, elevated temperatures on tap for Northern California could easily once again spark a massive wildfire.

President Donald Trump knocked California for its wildfire response at his rally Sunday afternoon in Carson City, Nevada.

"I like the governor, but I say, 'Do you ever stop with these forest fires, do you ever stop?' Trump told a crowd of supporters. "They've got to manage the forest, you know."

Trump continued to to lay into the state Sunday for its rolling blackouts last week, prompted by PG&E in response to another bout of fire aggravating weather.

"And, you know, they’ve run out of electricity, they have brownouts, blackouts," Trump said.

Nearly 10,000 customers had power restored in Northern California last week after PG&E issued a series of "public safety power shutoffs" amid rising temperatures and dry winds, ABC 7 reported.

The utility said that 41,000 customers in the north had lost power during the shutoff, conducted to mitigate elevated fire danger.

Trump flip-flopped last week in his decision to approve California's application for wildfire support funds.

“Just got off the phone with President Trump, who has approved our Major Disaster Declaration request. Grateful for his quick response,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Friday.

The approved Major Disaster Declaration is set to bolster the state’s emergency response to wildfires across the state and support impacted residents in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou counties.

READ MORE: Trump Changes Course, Approves CA Fire Aid After Initially Denying It

In the California's worst-ever fire season, several records were shattered as more than 4.1 million acres have burned in 2020, more than double the amount of any other fire season. The August Complex Fire also surpassed 1 million acres in October, becoming the largest single wildfire in state history.

The August Complex Fire was 88 percent contained Saturday.

During this catastrophic fire year, more than 9,200 structures have been destroyed across the state, and 31 people have died.

A dry landscape, combined with persistent and historically high temperatures this year, have kept the state in an extended fire season. California may be in for a dry winter as La Nina conditions have been forecast, which could keep the state in a relatively warm and arid weather pattern.

California's largest-ever fire season may not be over until November.

The deadly Zogg Fire, which killed four people, was 100 percent contained Tuesday after burning for weeks.

Cal Fire was investigating PG&E in connection to the cause of the Zogg Fire. The fire agency has taken some of the utility's equipment as part of its investigation, PG&E said Friday.

This news comes just months after PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2018 Camp Fire — the deadliest corporate crime in U.S. history, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The devastating Glass Fire, burning in Napa and Sonoma counties, has consumed more than 1,555 structures and was 97 percent contained Saturday.

The fire destroyed historic landmarks and famed wineries along Silverado Trail, nestled within Napa Valley.

A 120-year-old home at Tofaneli Vineyard and the 41-year-old Chateau Boswell Winery, along with many other family-owned wineries were lost in the Glass Fire.

SEE ALSO: Oakland Zoo Treats Mountain Lion Cub Badly Burned In Zogg Fire

This historic fire year points to what Cal Fire, environmental scientists and some politicians have been warning about all along: climate change.

Newsom has repeatedly urged constituents and fellow politicians in his daily news briefings to look at the data behind rising temperatures in California and how temperatures have contributed to the growth of fire seasons over the years.

"Data and science are not beliefs," Newsom said during a mid-September news conference. "You have to acknowledge facts."

In 2020 alone, some 8,500 fires have scorched 4.1 million acres.

And since Aug. 15, when a series of unseasonal dry lightning storms ignited dozens of major fires, the state has been breaking records for acres burned at a rapid pace.

Cal Fire offers a website to help people prepare for and prevent wildfires. Ready For Wildfires can be accessed here.

As fire season rages on, new records continue to be set.

Cal Fire says these new records have been recorded this season:

  • 5 of the Top 20 largest wildfires in California History have occurred in 2020.

  • Largest Wildfires - #1 August Complex, #3 SCU Lightning Complex, #4 LNU Lightning Complex, #5 North Complex, and #6 Creek Fire.

  • Most Destructive - #5 North Complex, #10 LNU Lightning Complex, #11 CZU Lightning Complex, and #17 Creek Fire.

  • Deadliest Wildfires - #5 North Complex and #20 LNU Lightning Complex.

SEE ALSO: Discovery Channel Partners With Cal Fire In New Series

Here's more on some of the major fires burning as of Monday, via Cal Fire:

**CALFIRE Incidents**

Cameron Fire, El Dorado County (more info…)
Off Hwy 50 and Durock Rd, Cameron Park
*15 acres, 95% contained
**Unified Command Incidents**

Glass Fire, Napa and Sonoma Counties (more info…)
4 miles east of Calistoga
*67,484 acres, 97% contained
*1,555 structures destroyed

Creek Fire, Fresno and Madera Counties (more info…)
Northeast of Shaver Lake (Sierra National Forest)
*352,339 acres, 61% contained
*Evacuations in place
*Heavy tree mortality in the area
*856 structures destroyed
*CAL FIRE is in unified command with California Interagency Incident Command Team 14 (South Zone) and CAIIMT 1 is in command of the North Zone.
**Federal Incidents**

August Complex, multiple Counties (more info…)
Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino, Tehama and Trinity Counties
Elk Creek and Stonyford area (Mendocino National Forest)
*1,032,264 acres, 91% contained
*South Zone 499,830 acres
*North East Zone 272,089 acres
*North West Zone 119,401 acres
*West Zone 140,944 acres
*1 fatality
*210 structures destroyed
*Includes multiple fires including the Elkhorn, Hopkins, Willow, Vinegar, and Doe fires
*The fire is being managed in four zones by 4 national Incident Management Teams

SQF Complex, Tulare County (more info…)
3 miles east of Giant Sequoia National Monument
*168,595 acres, 73% contained
*Evacuation order and warnings remain in place
*228 structures destroyed
*California Interagency Incident Management Team 13 is in command.
Coleman Fire, Monterey County (more info…)
North Fort Hunter Liggett
*554 acres, 0% contained
*Continued structure threat

North Complex, Plumas County (more info…)
Northeast of Oroville to southwest of Quincy (Plumas National Forest)
*318,930 acres, 95% contained
*15 fatalities
*2,352 structures destroyed

Slater Fire, Siskiyou County (more info…)
5 miles North of Happy Camp (Klamath National Forest)
*156,624 acres, 82% contained
*2 fatalities

Devil Fire, Siskiyou County (more info…)
5 miles north of Upper Devil’s Peak (Klamath National Forest)
*8,885 acres, 60% contained

Fork Fire, El Dorado County, (more info…)
15 miles northeast of Pollock Pines (El Dorado National Forest)
*1,670 acres, 85% contained

Red Salmon Complex – Humboldt County (more info…)
14 miles northeast of Willow Creek (Shasta-Trinity National Forest)
*143,180 acres, 65% contained

Blue Jay Fire, Mariposa County (more info…)
Yosemite National Park Wilderness
*6,640 acres, 50% contained

Wolf Fire, Tuolumne County (more info…)
Yosemite National Park Wilderness
*1,776 acres, 60% contained

Moraine, Tulare County (more info…)
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness
*760 acres, 70% contained

Rattlesnake, Tulare County (more info…)
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness
*6,830 acres, 40% contained

Dolan Fire, Monterey County (more info…)
Hwy 1, 10 miles south of Big Sur (Los Padres National Forest)
*124,924 acres, 98% contained

Slink Fire, Mono County (more info…)
2 miles west of Coleville (Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest)
*26,759 acres, 90% contained

Apple Fire, Riverside County (more info…)
Oak Glen/Cherry Valley (San Bernardino National Forest)
*33,424 acres, 95% contained

Bobcat Fire, Los Angeles County (more info…)
North of Duarte (Angeles National Forest)
*115,796 acres, 95% containment

Bullfrog Fire, Fresno County (more info…)
SE of Bullfrog Lake (Sierra National Forest)
*1,185 acres, 60% contained

El Dorado Fire, San Bernardino County (more info…)
West of Oak Glen (San Bernardino National Forest)
*22,744 acres, 95% contained
*1 fatality

**Local Incidents**

Bruder Fire, San Bernardino County (more info…)
Live Oak Canyon, Redlands
*170 acres, 92% containment

This article originally appeared on the Across California Patch

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