California’s wildfires powered by perfect storm of fire hazards

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By Andy Coghlan

Fire has devastated large areas of northern California, killing at least 17, with 155 people missing, and destroying at least 2000 homes. Wildfires have torched almost 30,000 hectares, mostly in the wine-growing regions of Napa and Sonoma counties, including the area around Santa Rosa.

The US National Weather Service (NWS) issued a red-flag warning on Tuesday, blaming near-perfect fire conditions. Warm offshore winds gusting at up to 50 kilometres per hour served as bellows, spreading fire in conditions of low humidity and parched vegetation. “Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly,” warned the NWS. “Shifting winds may push ongoing fires in new directions.”

The Californian fires are the latest in a year that has seen abnormally high wildfire activity in the US. On 1 October, the US National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho predicted that northern California was at especially grave risk. “Weather patterns along the West Coast allowed fuels to dry and become receptive to fire,” it warned.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Meanwhile – as wildfires continue to rage in California:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-41634125

    Portugal and Spain wildfires: Death toll soars to dozens

    At least 27 people have died in a series of wildfires in Portugal, the country’s civil protection service says.

    In Spain’s Galicia region, at least three people are dead.

    A spokeswoman for the agency told reporters that firefighters were still tackling 145 separate fires.

    “We can confirm the deaths of 27 people in the districts of Coimbra, Castelo Branco, Viseu and Guarda,” AFP quoted Patricia Gaspar as saying.

    More than 50 people have also been injured on the Portuguese side of the border.

    Thousands of firefighters are battling the flames, which erupted across north-eastern Portugal and parts of Spain over the weekend after a hot dry summer.

    Conditions were worsened by Hurricane Ophelia, which is approaching Europe’s western coast, bringing strong winds to fan and spread the flames.

    The wildfires follow a massive forest blaze in Portugal in June which killed 64 people and injured more than 130.

    I think any suggestion that profits from the US coal industry will offset the costs of these world-wide, on-going, droughts, fires, and floods, is pure Trumponomics!

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