Burning money: The facts on California's soaring cost to fight wildfires

Aug 05, 2018, 02:43
Burning money: The facts on California's soaring cost to fight wildfires

Twin wildfires fueled by dry vegetation and hot, windy weather continued to grow in Northern California, destroying 55 homes and forcing thousands of residents to flee their neighborhoods.

There is also a rapidly spreading wildfire in the Mendocino area of California, which has destroyed and damaged more than 50 structures, however this is coming under control more quickly and containment is so far rising.

The wildfire has grown to 175 square miles (280 square kilometers) and is a few miles from connecting with a second blaze that has grown to 64 square miles (105 square kilometers).

The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings of extreme fire danger through Saturday night because of low humidity and gusty winds.

Dykema says the whirl started when hot air from the exceptionally hot fire rose and twisted tightly, creating a powerful tornado of flames and wind.

Winds in the "fire whirl" created July 26 near Redding reached speeds of 143 miles per hour (230 kph), a speed that rivaled some of the most destructive Midwest tornados, National Weather Service meteorologist Duane Dykema said. They burned 14 homes and threatened 12,000 more.

The Carr Fire is 39-percent contained, but firefighters are widening fire breaks to prevent winds from causing it to flare up again.

"This is a particularly unsafe situation with extremely low humidity and high winds".

Hundreds of colleagues, family and friends attended a Fresno memorial service for an elite firefighter who died fighting one of the state's 17 major wildfires still burning.

Those gusts were slowing efforts in the steep, rugged terrain to carve out buffer zones in front of the fire's leading edge, said Gabriel Lauderdale, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).

It burned so furiously on July 26 that it created a "fire whirl".

A 100-square mile fire near Yosemite National Park prompted evacuation orders on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) for the community of Wawona inside the park, which has fewer than 200 residents.

Yosemite Valley and other areas of the park have been closed to tourists since July 25 because of heavy smoke from the fire, which has burned almost 100 square miles (259 square kilometers) and is only partially contained.

The insurance and reinsurance industry loss from the Carr wildfire in Shasta County, California, is anticipated to at least approach and possibly surpass $1 billion, as the destruction continues with now more than 1,550 structures completely destroyed and another 258 damaged by the fire.

The report says the death of the 10-year veteran highlights the need for better risk assessment, communication and supervision.

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