Western Montana, Northern Idaho, Oregon, Washington and other Western states are getting a weather break. Rain in lower elevations and snow in the mountains has eased the wildfire situation immensely.
California is a much different story. The summer fire season is over. Now the fall fire season is underway and the first fall fire is a raging fire storm.
At the time this is written — which is early Tuesday morning — 15 fires were sweeping through eight counties in Northern California. Winds hitting more than 50-miles per hour pushed unconnected fires about the counties with flames sometimes hitting 100 feet high. Whole cities, schools, hospitals and other facilities have been threatened or destroyed.
As of early Tuesday morning, the fires have consumed 73,000 acres and 20,000 people have been forced from their homes. In some areas people had mere minutes in many cases to flee and could take little or nothing with them. Tuesday morning’s report says 11 people didn’t make it out and are dead. Hundreds are reported missing. More than 2,000 homes, businesses and other structures have been destroyed including some famous wineries.
And it is going to get worse before it gets better. Authorities expect more deaths, more destruction and many more structures and wineries burned to the ground.
California Governor Jerry Brown said the fires are one of the worst fire incidents in state history and he has declared an emergency in Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada, and Orange counties. The largest fires are in Sonoma and Napa counties.
The cause of the fires is being investigated.
As for fires overall. So far in 2017, more than 13,000 square miles have burned so far this year which means the year — while not a record — will be — one of the worst fire years in history. What is a record is what the U.S. Forest Service has spent fighting fire. To date it amounts to over $2 billion.
Source links: Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press, Slate