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Posts tagged "wildfires"

California wildfires as of September 1st.


Flames consume trees along US Highway 120 as a fire burns out of control in Buck Meadows, California | image by Justin Sullivan

Wildfires are projected to burn more land as temps continue to rise. Via Union of Concerned Scientists.

Map of current disasters around the world. Via Disasters Report. Actually, I had a better disaster mapper than this one, but I cannot find the link.

Superior profile from NatGeo.

1/5th of department lost. “Hotshots" are our nation’s most elite fire fighter. They work in teams of 20, and hike miles while carrying 40-50 pounds of equipment each into extreme terrains. They are very physically strong, train for many months, and are pridefully dedicated to protecting America’s lands. According to an official quoted in this article, Hotshots work long hours and will often sleep near the wildfires to help teams develop fire lines (a technique used to stop fires from spreading). I hate to say that more brave firefighters will be hurt and possibly die due to increasing droughts and extreme temperatures over the decades to come. 

They were part of an elite squad confronting wildfires on the front line, setting up barriers to stop the spreading destruction. But in their unpredictable world, it doesn’t take much to turn a situation deadly.

In this case, a wind shift and other factors caused a central Arizona fire, which now spans almost 9,000 acres, to become erratic, said Mike Reichling, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman.

The inferno proved too much, even for the shelters the 19 firefighters carried as a last-ditch survival tool.

"The fuels were very dry, the relative humidity was low, the wind was coming out of the south. It turned around on us because of monsoon action," Reichling told CNN affiliate KNXV. "That’s what caused the deaths.

The firefighters from Prescott were killed Sunday while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix.

(H)ealthy, resilient forests actually need fire to thrive.

That concept has been the centerpiece of U.S. forest fire policy for almost two decades now. The 1995 Wildland Fire Policy, which governs firefighting on public lands and wilderness areas, states: “Wildland fire, as a critical natural process, must be reintroduced into the ecosystem.” The policy (which does not, by the way, in any way prohibit fighting fires that threaten life or property) grew out of the modern views of ecologists, who today see that flames are as much a part of a forest as the trees. Firefighting, in the view of many of these ecologists, should focus on protecting homes, watersheds, and critical infrastructure. But blazes in more remote woodlands should be allowed to run their course — a policy that wastes less money on fighting fires that won’t hurt anyone, while making forests healthier overall.

Yet not everyone sees it that way. 

The pine bark beetle has killed “hundreds of millions of trees.” There are upsides in using the wood, I suppose.

What a great exploration of how our communities are built. Click through and press “listen” if you can. The answers are surprising, especially if you’re new to urban planning, disaster management, and land use development. 

Thanks for the posts about the Black Forest Fire, but can you clarify what makes it the "worst" or "largest"? Obviously it's been hugely destructive, but past Colorado fires have burned tens of thousands more acres and killed more people, so I was just curious. Thanks!
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi perfect-weather!

Good question. Two points. First, disasters are typically measured by economic impact, not lives or environmental damage.

So, the Black Forest Fire(good wiki entry) is the “worst in state history” due to the number of homes destroyed, which is now close to 500.

Agreed. There were many other fires in Colorado that were geographically larger, destroyed more volumes of trees and habitat, killed more animals, and killed more people. 

Natural disasters that kill a lot of people are categorized as “deadliest” (here’s a list). Damage to ecosystems are categorized as “environmental disasters” (this later category is, if memory serves, unofficial and possibly arbitrary since disasters are measured by relative [shorter term] economic impact).

Second point is there are known, but little discussed, problems in the field of journalism. Among them: Using proper definitions; filtering bias; incorporating appropriate perspective; and time.

Time is especially problematic in disaster reporting because the information flow is fast paced and constantly shifting. Thus, as you pointed out, early reports include incorrect terms that (usually) disappear as the story develops.

In the case of Black Forest Fire, early reports may have (I did not check) stated it was one of the “largest” fires rather than just “worst.” Recent reports have clarified it as the “worst.”

Does that help? 


Scary video of rapidly spreading wildfire near LA from someone’s backyard. You can here father and daughter talking about animals running from the flames.

Tough year ahead guys.


Southern California wildfire spreads to Naval Base Ventura County

Photo: NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin

Seriously, it’s going to be a real rough year!