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More Smoke Rises from LA Fire as Firefighters Conduct Backburns – September 8th, 2009

34.0N 118.2W

September 8th, 2009 Category: Fires

California Wildfires, USA - September 7th, 2009

California Wildfires, USA - September 7th, 2009

Close-up of fire

Close-up of fire

More smoke rose out of the Angeles National Forest yesterday as firefighters burned back heavy brush to contain the deadly arson fire in mountains north of Los Angeles. Here, the thick plume of smoke can be seen blowing northeast, while the city of Los Angeles hugs the coast below.

The blaze was 56 percent contained Monday morning, but Forest Service spokesman said firefighters would still be hard at work in order to prepare for the possibility of a rise in temperatures, a drop in humidity or an increase in winds.

Monday’s temperatures are expected to peak in the mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 30 degrees Celsius), giving firefighters a much needed break from last week’s triple-digits (temperatures of over 38ºC).

Fire officials said the blaze has blackened 157,220 acres, or 246 square miles, of forest as it burns deeper into the wilderness in its thirteenth day, reports Bureau News. Damage assessment teams counted 78 homes, two commercial buildings, and dozens of outbuildings destroyed by the flames.

Crews were hoping for gentle winds that would allow them to conduct back burns to remove fuels and create a buffer between the active flames on the eastern edge and the San Gabriels, the steepest mountain range in Southern California. What’s left of the fire wasn’t burning aggressively and was only feeding off of leaf litter on the ground and old growth and dead timber, reported the Fire Service.

About 4,600 firefighters soldiered on while investigators analyzed clues found at a burnt hillside near the Angeles Crest Highway, where the fire started. Officials have said the cause of the fire was arson, but have not released any findings. Because of the deaths of the two firefighters, Los Angeles County authorities opened a homicide investigation last week.

Firefighters Still Battling Giant Blaze Near Los Angeles, California

34.0N 118.2W

September 3rd, 2009 Category: Fires

California Wildfires, USA - September 2nd, 2009

California Wildfires, USA - September 2nd, 2009

Close-up of fire

Close-up of fire

Firefighters continue to make progress against a giant wildfire that has ravaged a national forest north of Los Angeles as investigators searched for information about how the fire started.

Here, the city of Los Angeles is visible along the shoreline, with the fire in the forests to the north releasing a thick plume of smoke. At the moment the image was taken, the plume appeared to be blowing westward; however winds have also sent a thinner veil of smoke to the southeast.

Officials are still trying to figure out what set off the blaze in the Angeles National Forest that has burned nearly 219 sq miles or 56,717 hectares (140,150 acres), reports the Guardian. An official stated that lightning has been ruled out as a possible cause, and that the fire was human-caused, but it’s not known specifically how it was started or whether it was accidental or arson.

Firefighters have created a perimeter around 22% of the blaze, largely by removing brush with bulldozers and setting controlled burns. Bulldozers still have 95 miles of fire line to build, mostly on the blaze’s eastern front near the San Gabriel Wilderness Area.

The flames crossed the Angeles Crest Highway into the San Gabriel wilderness to the east on September 1st, an official said. Firefighters made progress on fire breaks to the north near Acton and south-west from Altadena to the Sunland neighbourhood.

Since erupting on August 26th (click here for previous article), the blaze has destroyed more than five dozen homes, killed two firefighters and forced thousands of people from their homes. Fire officials said 12,000 homes were threatened, but as evacuations are lifted, that number will likely fall.

Officials also were keeping a close eye on the wind, which had been calm overnight but could pick up today and move flames closer to homes and a historic observatory on Mount Wilson. Autumn is the season for the ferocious Santa Ana winds to sweep in from the north-eastern deserts, gaining speed through narrow mountain canyons, sapping moisture from vegetation and pushing flames farther out into the suburbs.

The wildfire season usually doesn’t gather steam until the winds hit in October, but the fire has been driven by dryness instead of wind. The region is in the midst of a three-year drought, and the tinder-dry forest is ripe for an explosive fire.

California Wildfires Force More Evacuations, Air-Quality Alert

36.7N 119.4W

August 30th, 2009 Category: Fires

California Wildfires, USA - August 29th, 2009

California Wildfires, USA - August 29th, 2009

California - August 29th, 2009

California - August 29th, 2009

Fire Map

Fire Map

Three separate fires burning in Los Angeles County have forced the evacuation of another 150 homes, the county said, and officials issued an air-quality alert because of smoke from the fires.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Monterey counties because of the blazes.

The Station fire, which has consumed 5,500 acres (2,225 hectares) since it began three days ago in the Angeles National Forest near La Canada Flintridge, is only 5 percent contained, said Randi Jorgensen, a fire information officer who used to work for the U.S. Forest Service. About 870 homes already had been evacuated in that area, she said.

Firefighters aren’t likely to see much improvement in the weather today or tomorrow because of a high-pressure system that is preventing the flow of cooler, moist air from the ocean, said Mike Pigott, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com in State College, Pennsylvania.

“There really isn’t going to be very much relief,” Pigott said. Temperatures are likely to range between 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) at the beaches to as hot as 106 degrees in some of the inland valleys near Los Angeles, he said. The other large fire is the Morris blaze, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Azusa, Jorgensen said. It has scorched 2,168 acres, as of 7 a.m. local time, and cost $4.5 million to fight, she said.

The National Weather Service office in Los Angeles/Oxnard, California, issued a red flag warning today until 9 p.m. local time for the mountains and foothills of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. That means widespread low humidity and hot temperatures could result in dangerous fire conditions.

In Monterey County, fire crews have completely controlled the Bryson blaze, which charred 3,383 acres since Aug. 26. The Gloria blaze in San Benito County, east of Gonzales, California, has burned 6,000 acres, up from 2,500 acres yesterday. It is 60 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Web site.

California has more than 5,200 firefighters battling eight major blazes across the state that have scorched more than 21,000 acres, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. Pigott said firefighters there will be aided by more moisture coming off the ocean that will cool temperatures to the low to mid-80s Fahrenheit tomorrow from mid-90s today.

Wildfires Continue to Blaze Throughout California

37.7N 122.4W

August 17th, 2009 Category: Fires

Fires in California, Hurricane Guillermo south of Baja California, USA - August 13rd, 2009

Fires in California, Hurricane Guillermo south of Baja California, USA - August 13rd, 2009

Fire in Oregon

Fire in Oregon

Fire south of San Francisco

Fire south of San Francisco

Fire northwest of Los Angeles

Fire northwest of Los Angeles

Over the weekend, gusty winds hampered efforts to put out several wildfires raging across California, authorities said on Saturday. Various fires can be seen in the main image, the most notable of which are found south of San Francisco and northwest of Los Angeles. A long plume of smoke can also be seen further north, in the state of Oregon.

Firefighters were working against time to contain the fires, including a wind-driven blaze in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Central California that was threatening several towns and forced thousands to evacuate, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDFFP) said.

The greatest danger is posed by the blaze burning north of Santa Cruz, which has destroyed two structures and consumed more than 2,800 acres (about 1,134 hectares), said the department.
Driven by heavy winds, the blaze is threatening the towns of Swanton, Davenport and Bonny Doon, and hand crews have experienced trouble reaching the fire lines. As a result, the fire is mostly being fought by air, the department said.

A second large fire roaring through Los Padres National Forest about 41 kilometers east of Santa Maria has grown, forcing some residents to flee. About 1,600 firefighters are attacking the blaze, which started last Saturday. The cause is unknown.
In the Santa Barbara County, Northern California, a fire has grown to 67,092 acres (about 27,172 hectares) and is 10-percent contained. The area’s rugged terrain and limited access were making it difficult for the hundreds of firefighters on the scene to battle the blaze, firefighters said.
Elswhere in Northern California, several smaller fires were still raging, but a fire in Trinity County was expected to be contained Saturday.

Most of the fires were started by lightning, according to initial investigations. But police were also investigating the possibility of arson. There have been no reports of injuries related to the fires.

California Fires Threaten Homes, Force Evacuations in Two Areas

36.7N 119.4W

August 14th, 2009 Category: Fires

Fires in California, Hurricane Guillermo south of Baja California, USA - August 13rd, 2009

Fires in California, Hurricane Guillermo south of Baja California, USA - August 13rd, 2009

Fires, Northwest of Los Angeles

Fires, Northwest of Los Angeles

Fires, Northwest of Los Angeles

Fires, Northwest of Los Angeles

Fires, South of San Francisco

Fires, South of San Francisco

Two California wildfires, one south of San Francisco and the other northwest of Los Angeles, burned across 51,000 acres today and threatened more than 1,250 homes, authorities said.

Officials ordered 2,400 residents in Swanton and Bonny Doon, 70 miles (113 kilometers) from San Francisco, to flee the fire, which has consumed 2,800 acres (1,120 hectares) and is raging out of control, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

At the same time, some 1,900 firefighters are battling a blaze that has burned at least 48,457 acres in the Los Padres National Forest area of Santa Barbara County, said the state agency, known as Cal Fire.

The Southern California blaze, called the La Brea fire, threatens 21 homes and nine other buildings about 140 miles northwest of Los Angeles, according to the state agency. Steep terrain and isolated locations are making both fires harder to fight, according to authorities.

Residents of about 150 homes and ranches were ordered to evacuate in the face of the advancing La Brea blaze, which began last weekend in a remote section of the forest, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department Web site.

The fire has been “very active” in the past 12 hours, expanding by 10,000 acres, the Los Padres National Forest Service said on its Web site yesterday evening local time. Firefighters are using bulldozers, helicopters and planes. The Los Padres National Forest stretches across nearly 2 million acres from the Big Sur Coast in Monterey County to the western edge of Los Angeles. In May, the Jesusita fire in Santa Barbara forced the evacuation of thousands of people before it was contained.

Temperatures in the area are expected to reach 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius) today with winds from the west-northwest at about 15 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures in the area of the Bonny Doon fire may reach 80, the weather service said. An air quality alert because of smoke was issued by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

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