California is Burning

Govi

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The Creek Fire burning in the mountains of eastern Fresno and Madera Counties has now charred 196,667 acres as of last night, though firefighters were able to hold containment lines established so far. Containment remains at 6 percent. An estimated 377 structures have beed damaged or burned, though that number will likely rise significantly as assessors are able to get into burn areas. More than 14,000 structures remain threatened. ABC affiliate KFSN-30, NBC affiliate KSEE-24, CBS affiliate KGPE-47, MyNetwork affiliate KAIL-7, and a handful of radio stations have gone off the air as fire disrupted power to the transmission towers in Meadow Lakes. Around 45,000 people remain evacuated, and officials state that it may be weeks before people are allowed to return to their homes.
We have not watched tv in quite a while, not since the switch to digital broadcasting. How out of it this has made us suddenly struck me when I realized I hadn't a clue what "channel 26.7" means.
 

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We have not watched tv in quite a while, not since the switch to digital broadcasting. How out of it this has made us suddenly struck me when I realized I hadn't a clue what "channel 26.7" means.
Yeah, digital television is an interesting thing. Among other things, it allows TV stations to mulitcast several channels on one broadcast stream. It's kind of cool because, for the Fresno area in particular, over-the-air viewers went from having 12 channels to watch to having somewhere north of 50. Cable and satellite viewers don't really notice it though. It also allows what they call "virtual channels" - that is, a station can broadcast on a channel that's different from the channel number they identify as. For example, KSEE-24 actually broadcasts on channel 20. When the switch to digital TV happened in 2009, most of our TV stations got assigned to different channels for their digital broadcasts during the transition period. While a few stations switched back to their former channels after the transition, most kept their digital channels, but still identify as their former analog channel numbers to avoid confusion. Indeed, most people, save for us TV geeks, don't even notice the difference.
 
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Katheryne Helendale

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Today was a pretty good day for firefighters battling the Creek Fire in eastern Fresno and Madera Counties: Despite not being able to use aircraft to fight the fire due to heavy smoke in the area, they have managed to stop forward progress of the fire, which remains at 196,667 acres, and have increased containment to eight percent. Heavy smoke also lingered in the sky above the Central Valley, causing high temperatures today to struggle to get out of the 70's. A number of radio and television stations serving the central and south valleys had gone dark because the fire had cut power to the transmitters, but several of them are back on the air, at least for now. A few, like KFSN-30 and KAIL-7, are still reporting being down on their websites, and KSEE-24 still say they're down on their Facebook page.

An older fire burning in the Sequoia National Forest in eastern Tulare County is getting more attention lately as it increases in intensity, and a number of new evacuations have been ordered for mountain communities in the area. The SQF Complex Fire has burned 67,516 acres over its 3-week life with containment at 12 percent, and is increasingly responsible for smoke in the south valley.
 
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It is absolutely unreal. I counted the number of incidents that Inciweb is tracking in just California alone, and there were more than 40 active fires in the state. This screen capture shows a depiction of all the fires burning in the west right now:



I can't even count them all!
 

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Looking at that satellite view, you'd think the Seattle area is barely affected. That's very definitely not the case. I can't even imagine what the Central Valley and those other harder-hit areas must be like. Hang in there, folks, it has to end sometime.
 

Govi

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Looking at that satellite view, you'd think the Seattle area is barely affected. That's very definitely not the case. I can't even imagine what the Central Valley and those other harder-hit areas must be like. Hang in there, folks, it has to end sometime.
The time signature in the lower left corner runs from (roughly) 09-08-2020 1600 hours to 09-09-2020 0400 hours UTC, so if Seattle was not happening much then, it wouldn't be a visible problem in the gif. In Monterey Bay, we're still under smoke and fog, but the smell is less. Still, very fine ash coming down.
 
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The Creek Fire in the mountain areas of Fresno and Madera Counties grew a bit today, now at 201,908 acres. Although the fire threatened to jump containment lines, firefighters were able to hold the lines and increase containment to 10 percent. Heavy smoke in the area continued to ground any aerial assaults on the fire. Smoke and fine ash also continued to be a problem on the valley floor, pushing the Air Quality Indices across the valley near the Very Unhealthy range. There have been no updates on estimated fire damage to structures.

The SQF Complex Fire burning in the Sequoia National Forest in eastern Tulare County made a big push westward overnight prompting evacuation orders for a stretch of State Route 190 along with evacuation warnings for an area stretching from Balch Camp northward to Three Rivers. The fire is now at 89,471 acres with containment remaining at 12 percent.
 

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The Creek Fire burning in the Fresno and Madera County mountain areas has grown to 212,744 acres, while firefighters improved its containment to 16 percent. Damage assessors have begun going into the burned areas, though many areas are still inaccessible. So far, they have tallied 518 structures that have been damaged or destroyed by the fire. Heavy smoke continues to hamper fighting the fire from the air, with most of the aircraft being sent to fight the SQF Complex Fire to the south. Down in the valley, air quality forecasts for Fresno and Madera Counties place expected air quality just a few points below the "Hazardous" range, with AQI throughout the rest of the valley being firmly in the "Unhealthy" range, as ash continues to fall like snow throughout the valley.

Things took a serious turn for the worst with the SQF Complex Fire burning in the Tulare County mountains around the Sequoia National Forest, with the fire surging to the north and west, growing to 90,845 acres with only 12 percent containment. Much of the community of Three Rivers, which sits between Visalia and the Sequoia National Park, was evacuated, with State Route 198 closed to the Park entrance. Within the park, the Generals' Highway remains open for now. The community of Springville northeast of Porterville was placed under an evacuation warning.

I must take a moment to make note of one fire complex currently burning in northern California. Known as the August Complex Fire, it has burned 877,477 acres within Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, & Trinity Counties since it started nearly a month ago, making it the largest fire in California history, nearly doubling the size of the second largest fire, the Mendocino Complex Fire that burned two years ago. To put it in perspective, the fire has burned 1,371 square miles - nearly the size of Delaware. It is amazing that, so far, only 26 structures have burned and there are no reported human casualties. The fire is currently 30 percent contained.
 

Jopsy Pendragon

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It's not just that climate change is making CA hotter and drier. It's making it wetter longer too. Normal years, we have wet "Growing Season" that starts in late December and ends in mid/late Feb. By the end of March, the hills have gone from green to golden bown and they stay that way until the next winter.

Every 4-6 years we get a long growing season with cool/wet la nina/el nino (I forget which), and that sets us up for a bad wildfire season the next year.

But now, the last TWO years have been cooler and wetter. Our 'growing' season, at least down where I am, kept going. And going. And instead of a few months of bloom sitting around tinder dry waiting for a spark, it's TWO years worth.

Whatever doesn't burn this year, is almost certain to burn next year. And then it'll happen again, I'm sure, in another 4-5 years. :(
 

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The Creek Fire burning in the mountains of Fresno and Madera Counties grew some more since yesterday, having now reached 220,025 acres. Containment has grown slightly as well, to 16 percent. Evacuation orders have been lifted for some parts of the area, though it may be weeks before any sort of services are restored. Damage assessment teams have surveyed about half of the burn area and tallied 632 structures destroyed by the fire with another 52 sustaining some sort of damage. Smoky air continues to keep aerial firefighting units grounded, and still continues to dominate air quality concerns in the Central Valley.

While the Creek Fire continues to dominate local news, the older SQF Complex Fire in the Tulare County mountains is starting to catch up. The fire, made up of the Shotgun and Castle Fires, continues to grow, now at 107,101 acres, with containment remaining at 12 percent. An estimated 104 structures have been damaged or destroyed, with thousands more under threat. Several mountain and foothill communities remain under evacuation orders, including the community of Three Rivers south and east of State Route 198. The community of Springville along State Route 190 northeast of Porterville remains under an evacuation warning. Highway 198 remains closed between Three Rivers and the Sequoia National Park's southern entrance. The Park itself has also been closed.
 
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I took a look at a list of the largest wildfires ever seen in California history. It is very telling that three of the top five largest wildfires are presently burning. The three fires making up part of the Top 5 are:
1. August Complex in Glenn, Lake, Mendocino, Tehama, and Trinity Counties, at 877,477 acres;
3. SCU Lightning Complex in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Merced, and Stanislaus Counties, at 396,624 acres; and
4. LNU Lightning Complex in Colusa, Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Solano, and Yolo Counties, at 363,220 acres.

The Creek Fire in Fresno and Madera Counties is currently the 12th largest.
 
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The Creek Fire burning in the mountains of Fresno and Madera Counties has grown, mainly along its northern side, to 228,025 acres, and is now 18 percent contained. Officials report that members of the US Navy and Marine Corps are on their way to assist in fighting the fire. Reports of the fire's destruction have 742 structures destroyed and another 61 damaged, with damage assessment about 57 percent complete. Nearly ten thousand structures remain threatened. A shifting weather pattern offshore is expected to usher in breezes strong enough to help push some of the wildfire smoke out of the Valley and the fire area, which may allow an aerial attack to resume, and air quality to improve slightly.

The SQF Complex Fire burning in the Tulare County mountains continues to grow, now at 114,320 acres, with containment remaining at 12 percent. 14 first responders have been injured in the firefighting efforts. An estimated 104 structures have been damaged or destroyed, with that number expected to go up as assessors are able to get into burned areas that are now unsafe to access. 3,100 structures remain threatened by the fire. The mountain portions of both State Route 190 east of Porterville, and State Route 198 east of Visalia remain closed, as is the entirety of Sequoia National Park.
 

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The Creek Fire in the mountains of Fresno and Madera County is now the 10th largest fire in California history, having now burned 246,756 acres. On the plus side, containment has increased to 20 percent; however, gusty winds are expected over the Sierras over the next couple of days, which could challenge containment lines. Damage assessment crews have reported at least 783 structures have been destroyed and another 67 have sustained damage, with 75 percent of the assessment complete. Meanwhile, heavy smoke over the mountains forced the complete closure of Yosemite National Park for at least the next several days.

The SQF Complex Fire in the Tulare County mountains continues to grow, having now burned 122,835 acres, while containment remains at 12 percent, where it has been for about a week now. At least 150 structures have been destroyed. Gusty winds forecast for the mountain areas over the next few days are a major concern. Sequoia National Park remains closed due to proximity of the fire, and heavy smoke has prompted the closure of Kings Canyon National Park, along with Yosemite National Park to the north.
 
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The Creek Fire burning in Fresno and Madera Counties has grown a bit more today, now at 248,256 acres, while containment also improved to 22 percent. The two counties involved are starting to ease evacuation orders for some parts of the area as containment increases. Meanwhile, damage assessment teams have counted 842 structures destroyed by fire, with another 71 structures damaged to some degree. Assessment is about 90 percent completed. Fresno County has also declared a local health emergency due to the toxic nature of the ash raining down around the mountains and the valley below. Despite that, ocean-cooled breezes out of the west spilled into the Valley and drove out some of the accumulated smoke from the air. As of 9pm local time, the Air Quality Index (AQI) for Fresno was Moderate at 51.

The month-old SQF Complex Fire burning in the Tulare County mountains continues to grow, with acres burned now at 128,902 acres, while containment remains stalled at 12 percent. The communities of Silver City and Mineral King have been added to the evacuation order list. Sequoia National Park, along with State Route 198 leading to its southern entrance, remain closed due to fire concerns. To the north, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks also remain closed due to heavy smoke. Ocean-cooled breezes out of the west spilled into the Valley and drove out some of the accumulated smoke from the air. As of 9pm local time, the Air Quality Index (AQI) for Visalia was Moderate at 92.