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california drought

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President Donald Trump has toured Camp Fire’s damage, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history.

Named after Camp Creek Road, its place of origin, the fire started on November 8, 2018, in Butte County, and killed at least 71 people.

More than 1,000 people are reported to be missing, although officials say that figure could fluctuate.

Speaking in the town of Paradise, President Trump described the scene as “sad to see” and revisited his disputed claim poor forest management was to blame.

He said: “We do have to do management maintenance and we’ll be working also with environmental groups, I think everyone’s seen the light.”

According to experts, the main causes of the wildfires are the weather, climate change and population shifts.

On top of the Camp Fire, firefighters are also tackling several other blazes, including the Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles which has claimed at least three lives.

Meanwhile, scores of people have become sick after outbreaks of the norovirus at shelters and the air quality in northern California has been rated the world’s worst.

Heavy rain is forecast next week that could douse the flames but also bring mudslides and floods on hillsides stripped of vegetation.

Arriving in California, President Trump was greeted by Governor Jerry Brown and his successor Gavin Newsom, both of whom are Democrats and have sparred with the president over the wildfires.

Governor Brown wrote on Twitter: “Now is a time to pull together for the people of California.”

In Paradise, President Trump praised the efforts of local law enforcement, politicians and the teams searching for survivors on the ground.

Some locals held up pro-Trump signs, although one called him a “moron”.

California Fires Death Toll Rises to 31

Thomas Fire Becomes Largest Blaze in California’s History

Thomas Fire: California Governor Jerry Brown Brands Wildfires as New Normal

On November 16, the death toll rose to 71 after more bodies were found in Paradise, which has been all but destroyed by the fire.

Military troops are assisting forensics teams and cadaver dogs as they continue to search for human remains eight days on after the Camp Fire first broke out.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea put the number of people unaccounted for at 1,011, a sharp leap from the 631 reported just 24 hours earlier.

However, the sheriff described the list as “dynamic”,

He said: “The information I am providing you is raw data and we find there is the likely possibility that the list contains duplicate names.”

According to authorities, some of those on the list may be fine but unaware they have been reported missing, or unable to call.

The Camp Fire is now about 50% contained but fire officials say they may not have it fully under control until the end of the month.

Historically, California’s “wildfire season” started in summer and ran into early autumn – but experts have warned that the risk is now year-round.

 

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According to recent official reports, California fires death toll has risen to 31, with more than 200 people still unaccounted for.

Six more people were confirmed killed in the Camp Fire in the north of California, taking the toll there to 29.

That fire now equals the deadliest on record in California – the 1933 Griffith Park disaster in Los Angeles.

In the south of the state, the Woolsey Fire has claimed two lives as it damaged beach resorts including Malibu.

An estimated 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to avoid three major blazes in the state.

With strengthening winds threatening to spread the flames, California Governor Jerry Brown has urged President Trump to declare a major disaster, a move that would harness more federal emergency funds.

The appeal came a day after President Trump threatened to cut funding for California, blaming the fires on poor forest management.

Emergency teams have been sifting through the remains of more than 6,700 homes and businesses burned down in the town of Paradise.

Paradise and surrounding area bore the brunt of the inferno, which started in nearby forest on November 8.

At a news conference on November 11, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the bodies of five people had been found in their burned-out homes and a sixth was found inside a vehicle. He said that more than 200 people were still unaccounted for.

The fire is the most destructive in the state’s history and the joint deadliest.

According to fire officials, it has burned more than 109,000 acres and is nearly 25% contained.

The blaze started on November 8 near Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles north-west of central Los Angeles.

By November 11 the fire had consumed 83,000 acres and destroyed at least 177 buildings, officials said. It is only 10% contained. The smaller Hill Fire, nearby, has scorched 4,530 acres and is 75% contained.

Some looting was reported in the southern fire area over the weekend and police said arrests had been made.

Image source Wikipedia

Thomas Fire Becomes Largest Blaze in California’s History

Thomas Fire: California Governor Jerry Brown Brands Wildfires as New Normal

Luxury homes in Malibu and other beach communities are among properties that have fallen victim to the flames.

Gerard Butler shared a picture of a charred house on Twitter, writing: “Returned to my house in Malibu after evacuating. Heartbreaking time across California. Inspired as ever by the courage, spirit and sacrifice of firefighters. Thank you @LAFD. If you can, support these brave men and women at http://SupportLAFD.org .”

Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, where the HBO series Westworld is filmed, was also destroyed.

On November 10, firefighters used a respite from strong winds to drop fire retardant in a bid to strengthen firebreaks.

However, officials warned against complacency, with winds of up to 70mph expected over the coming days. They said fires could spread quickly and unexpectedly.

Los Angeles County fire chief Daryl Osby said: “Winds are already blowing. They are going to blow for the next three days. Your house can be rebuilt but you can’t bring your life back.”

Meteorologist David Gomberg told the Los Angeles Times that fire tornadoes were possible.

Governor Jerry Brown’s request to President Donald Trump was aimed at bolstering the emergency response to what he called the “catastrophic” nature of the wildfires.

In a letter, the governor said: “We’re putting everything we’ve got into the fight against these fires and this request ensures communities on the front lines get additional federal aid.”

The president’s response to the fires has been criticized as unsympathetic and ill-informed.

On November 11, during his trip to Paris, President Trump tweeted: “With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!”

The president has previously blamed Californian officials for wildfires and threatened to withhold federal funding.

In a tweet on November 10, President Trump accused California authorities of “gross mismanagement” of forests.

Governor Brown’s spokesman, Evan Westrub, called President Trump’s comments “inane and uninformed”.

Historically, California’s “wildfire season” started in summer and ran into early autumn. However, experts have warned that the risk is becoming year-round.

The current fires are being blamed on a combination of climate change and transient weather conditions.

Low humidity, warm Santa Ana winds, and dry ground after a rain-free month have produced prime fire-spreading conditions.

California’s population stands at 40 million, almost double what it was in the 1970s, and the number living close to at-risk forest areas is rising.

And recent years have produced record-breaking temperatures, earlier springs, and less reliable rainfall.

Citing the role of a warming climate, Governor Jerry Brown declared: “This is not the new normal, this is the new abnormal. The chickens are coming home to roost, this is real here.”

Neil Young made the same link, writing on his website: “I have lost my home before to a California wildfire, now another.

“We are vulnerable because of climate change; the extreme weather events and our extended drought is part of it.”

Two firefighters have been killed and tens of thousands of people forced to flee their homes in a raging wildfire in Shasta county, northern California.

According to fire officials, the fires are being sucked up by strong winds to form “fire tornados” that are uprooting trees and overturning cars.

The fires have destroyed at least 500 structures and are threatening thousands of homes.

Firefighters are battling the blaze, which is only 5% contained so far.

The wildfire, which has been named the Carr fire, began on July 23 and has scorched over 48,000 acres of land – an area larger than the city of San Francisco.

Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott told reporters: “We are seeing fire whirls – literally what can be described as a tornado.

“This fire was whipped up into a whirlwind of activity” by gale-force winds, he said, “uprooting trees, moving vehicles, moving parts of roadways.

“These are extreme conditions… we need to take heed and evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”

Image source Wikipedia

Thomas Fire: California Governor Jerry Brown Brands Wildfires as New Normal

California Wildfires: At Least 17 Dead and More Than 150 Missing

Two firefighters – fire inspector Jeremy Stoke, and a bulldozer operator who has not yet been named, died trying contain the blaze.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, three people – a great-grandmother and her two great-grandchildren, are currently missing.

About 37,000 residents have been forced to leave the area.

Wildfires are a common occurrence in California during the state’s long, hot, dry summers.

However, experts say this has been the worst start to the fire season in 10 years – partly due to the 2012-2017 drought that killed off large amounts of vegetation.

In December, California Governor Jerry Brown said devastating wildfires fuelled by climate change had become “the new normal”, and that large fires “could happen every year or every few years”.

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At least 15 people have died after mudslides and flooding hit southern California.

Rescue workers are now searching for survivors.

More than 30 miles of the main coastal road have been closed and police said the scene “looked like a World War One battlefield”.

A group of 300 people are reportedly trapped in Romero Canyon neighborhood east of Santa Barbara, with rescue efforts due to resume at daybreak.

The death toll is expected to rise.

Up to now, more than 50 people have been rescued, but many places are still inaccessible. Several roads are closed, including the major Highway 101.

Some 163 people have been taken to hospital while other 20 had “storm-related injuries” and four were critically hurt.

The first rain in months caused mudslides when it hit ground that had been scorched by December’s huge wildfires.

According to specialists, after a wildfire, burned vegetation and charred soil create a water repellent layer which blocks water absorption. Together with the loss of vegetation, this leads to an increased risk of mudslides and floods.

Image source Flickr

Thomas Fire Becomes Largest Blaze in California’s History

California Fires Death Toll Rises to 31 as Hundreds Remain Missing

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says the risk of flooding stays “significantly higher” for up to five years after a wildfire.

The National Weather Service said in a statement: “Recent burn areas will be especially vulnerable where dangerous mud and debris flows are possible.”

According to officials, in some places mud was waist-deep.

Thousands had to leave their homes, many for the second time in two months. The emergency services declared an exclusion zone, saying anyone moving around the area would be in the way of rescuers and would be subject to arrest.

Those who have stayed in the area have been warned to boil their tap water before drinking it.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said that heavy rain run-off caused a mudflow in the community of Montecito, where some homes were knocked off their foundations.

On January 9, County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni said that five people were found dead in Montecito, possibly as a result of the storm.

The upmarket neighborhood includes homes owned by celebrities such as Rob Lowe, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey.

The US Coast Guard has sent “multiple airships to support rescue operations” and warned the public not to fly drones, otherwise the flights would be grounded.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this comes after a record-setting year of $306 billion of weather and climate-related disaster costs in the US, with 2017 the third warmest year on record.

California has suffered severe drought in five out of six of the past years.

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The California “weather bomb” storm has eased in south, while pressing on further north in the state.

Heavy rains, flash floods and mud slides wreaked havoc on February 17 and 18, killing at least five people.

According to meteorologists, it was the worst storm to hit California in years.

Forecasters warned residents in the north, including San Francisco, to expect more heavy rain on February 19.

Meteorologists described the storm as “bombogenesis”, an intense extra-tropical cyclonic low-pressure area, or “a weather bomb”.

Image source AP

One man was killed after a tree fell and pulled a power line on to his car in the Sherman Oaks area of LA.

A second person died in a vehicle when it was submerged by a flash flood in the town of Victorville.

Two others died in car accidents in the San Diego area, and another person was found dead after being swept into a creek in Ventura County.

Evacuation orders were lifted in the towns of Duarte on February 18.

The northern California has already experienced fears of flooding at the tallest dam in the country, Oroville Dam, when more than 180,000 residents were evacuated from their homes last week.

Authorities at the dam have been working to lower the level of the lake and have said it has continued to fall despite the storm.

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More than 13,000 people have been evacuated in California as firefighters struggle to contain some 20 wildfires.

Some 9,000 firefighters worked throughout August 3 in steep terrain and rugged conditions, officials said.

The biggest blaze – the so-called Rocky fire north of San Francisco – has already consumed more than 90 square miles of land.

On August 3, the fire jumped a highway that had been containing it.

Photo AP

Photo AP

The Rocky fire tripled in size over the weekend, with officials describing its rate of growth as unprecedented.

At least 24 homes were destroyed as the blaze was whipped up by winds that fuelled the flames.

More than 6,000 properties currently lie in the path of the flames.

Four years of drought in California left the landscape tinder dry. Coupled with unseasonably humid conditions, lightning strikes and gusting winds, this has posed a severe challenge for fire fighters and water-dropping aircraft.

While some progress has been reported in tackling the blazes, partially due to a slight fall in temperatures, there is no rain forecast.

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California farmers have agreed to reduce their water usage by 25% in an effort to combat the record four-year drought.

A group of several hundred farmers made the concession after state officials threatened to cut their water rights.

California has already demanded a 25% reduction in cities and towns.

However, critics say state Governor Jerry Brown has not done enough to reduce usage by the farming industry’s powerful water rights holders.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

The deal between California’s Water Resources Control Board and the farmers – who have until now resisted pressure to commit to cutting back – is a sign of the worsening impact of California’s drought.

The US Drought Monitor said on May 21 that 94% of California was in severe drought or worse, and farmers used 80% of all water taken from the land in the state.

The agreement is the first of its kind in more than 30 years, and involves farmers in the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.

Others in this category – known as senior rights holders – are irrigation districts, utilities with hydropower stations, and cities, including San Francisco.

Thousands of the state’s junior water rights holders – those whose claims to water usage date back only as far as 1914 – have already had their water use curtailed this year. Those are mostly farmers getting no federal irrigation deliveries.

Under California’s system, junior water rights holders have to stop taking water from rivers and streams so there is enough flow left to satisfy the demand of those with older claims.

About 350 farmers met on May 21 to discuss an attempt to avoid deeper mandatory cuts to their water allowance.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll all participate” in the voluntary 25% reduction, said Michael George, the state’s water master for the delta. But he said he believed many would.

The farming industry has come under fire in recent weeks from residents who have been forced to turn off their sprinklers and time their showers under threat of heavy fines.

The agreement gives the farmers until June 1 to present plans for how they will make the proposed cuts.

California Governor Jerry Brown has ordered the implementation the first mandatory water restrictions in the state’s history.

The order implements a 25% reduction in water usage for cities and towns across the parched state.

Vast areas of government-owned lawns will be replaced by drought-tolerant landscaping, and towns will be banned from watering ornamental grass.

In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed a state of emergency after years of drought.

The snow in the mountains is at its lowest level since records began, so water supplies from melting snow will be lower than normal in coming months.

“We are standing on dried grass, and we should be standing in five feet of snow,” said Gov. Jerry Brown, speaking in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

“People should realize we’re in a new era. The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water everyday – that’s going to be a thing of the past,” he said.California water restrictions 2015

The new order will require university campuses, cemeteries, golf courses and other large landowners to make major cuts in their water usage.

Farmers in the United States’ largest farm state have been hit hard in recent years.

Jerry Brown’s critics said his order did not go far enough to address agricultural use of water.

“In the midst of a severe drought, the governor continues to allow corporate farms and oil interests to deplete and pollute our precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water,” said Adam Scow, California director of the group Food & Water Watch.

Previous extremely dry years led to catastrophic wildfire seasons in California in 2003 and 2007.

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California officials have approved fines of up to $500 a day for residents who waste water, as the state faces its worst drought in nearly four decades.

The measures have been introduced to stop water being wasted on lawns, landscaping and car washing.

Water consumption rose by 1% in the year up to May, despite an appeal for people to make a 20% reduction.

About 75% of water used in California is for agricultural purposes.

The fines will be enforced only in cases of wasteful outdoor watering, officials say, such as landscaping to the extent where run-off flows onto pavements.

Other practices frowned upon by the authorities include washing a vehicle without a nozzle on the hose, or watering down hard surfaces such as pavements and driveways.

California officials have approved fines of up to $500 a day for residents who waste water

California officials have approved fines of up to $500 a day for residents who waste water (photo Reuters)

“Our goal here is to light a fire under those who aren’t yet taking the drought seriously,” Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said.

Felicia Marcus described the vote that introduced the measures as historic and unprecedented, because the board is trying to ensure that it is not just the state’s farmers who suffer because of the drought.

“Many communities and water suppliers have taken bold steps over the years and in this year to reduce water use; however, many have not and much more can and should be done state-wide to extend diminishing water supplies,” a water board statement says.

Exemptions will be provided for public health and safety, officials say, such as allowing cities to power-wash alleyways to get rid of human waste left by homeless people.

The water control board estimates that the restrictions, which take effect in early August, could save enough water state-wide to supply more than 3.5 million people for a year.

California’s historic drought has lasted for much of this year.

In 2013 it rained less than it had in any previous year since the state’s founding in 1850. Rivers have flowed at record low levels, reservoirs have been drier than ever, and the mountain snowpack – snow that melts over the warmer months and provides water throughout the year – has amounted to only about 20% of expected levels.

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