Many “unprecedented” situations occurred throughout 2020, including wildfire season. In addition to the busy wildfire season, firefighters have also had to ensure their safety against COVID-19. Although crews took the necessary precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing, during fire response, coronavirus cases still popped up.
Have you ever wondered how fires are spotted or quickly confirmed before crews even arrive? The state of California has over 600 cameras that help! Previously, fire tower lookouts provided a necessary function for identifying and fighting new fires. Now, with the growth of technology, cameras throughout wilderness areas have helped firefighters and communities react quicker and smarter when fire emerges.
Concern over fire response is growing as wildfire season approaches, and the coronavirus implications persist. Wildfire response is likely to be measured and conservative as public agencies too try to reduce the spread of coronavirus. A recent New York Times article suggests firefighters will still respond to wildfires, but a major cloud surrounds the logistics of it all.
During World War II, Japanese submarines off of the Santa Barbara Coast fired shells making an oil field explode near the Los Padres National Forest. This created a fear in Americans. People were concerned that wildfire could be used as a war tactic in the forests off of the Pacific Coast. The Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) program was created to bring light to wildfire prevention by reducing the number of human caused fires. Eventually, this program led to the creation of Smokey Bear as an influential wildfire prevention icon. Smokey is now recognized by 96% of adults – a recognition rate that is comparable to that of the President and Mickey Mouse!
The Bushfires in New South Wales (NSW), Australia are still burning. Officials have declared a state of emergency for the third time for NSW this fire season. The majority of the state is under a high to a very high fire danger rating with catastrophic conditions. There have been seventeen deaths reported across Australia, with most of them being in NSW. The bushfires have destroyed over 900 houses and 2,000 outbuildings.
Over 365,000 acres have burned along the eastern coast of Australia in the New South Wale (NSW), the country’s most populous state. As a result, officials declared a state of emergency for the entire state, as conditions have reached “catastrophic”, the nation’s highest bushfire danger rating. Tragically, three people have died while over 150 structures have been destroyed. Even worse, included in those destroyed was a wildlife sanctuary near Port Macquarie, which was home to as many as 350 koalas.
Just sixteen miles south of last week’s Saddleridge Fire, the Palisades Fire burned 40 acres between Palisades Dr and Charmel Ln in steep terrain yesterday afternoon, quickly spreading and prompting evacuations of a neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. Fortunately, hard work from air and ground crews saved the 200 homes that were threatened from damage or destruction and all have since been repopulated. This morning’s incident briefing portrayed a mop-up and perimeter-control day ahead of the crews. A direct ground attack is the main plan for the two divisions, with dozer(s) cleared to improve a nearby fire road, and an Structure Protection Group working the previously evacuated neighborhoods.
A fast-growing, wind-driven fire sparked near Yarnell Road off Interstate 210 just north of Sylmar in northern Los Angeles around 2100 PST Thursday night. By late Thursday it was less than 100 acres burning parallel to the 210 Freeway. Overnight, the fire grew to more than 4,000 acres jumping both the I-5 and I-210, burning into neighborhoods. The western branch of the fire got established near the I-5 and began burning westerly through medium to heavy brush threatening thousands of homes in the Porter Ranch and Granada Hills areas. The original fire or eastern branch has backed upslope with topography and is growing to the north and east above Sylmar. At least 25 homes were damaged reported in the morning press conference. 1,000 firefighters are working the fire, along with numerous helicopters and air resources. Additional resources will be implemented with the daylight, including 2 super scoopers. Angeles National Forest officials are in a unified command with Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County fire departments.
Fall Means Santa Ana Winds
Annually, the onset of the fall and winter seasons brings the highest chance for Southern California’s famed Santa Ana winds. Historically, the worst fires in Southern California in terms of speed of growth and destruction are linked to these hot, dry wind events. The last two years, a strong and persistent Santa Ana event was a major player in the spread of both 2017’s Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara and last year’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu.