Not Arson, PG&E Related
First Ever Extreme Fire Warning
It's one word the National Weather Service in Los Angeles doesn't want Southern California residents to overlook -- extreme.
As in, this isn't just another red flag warning -- meaning winds, temperatures and humidity are ripe for fire danger. It's an extreme red flag warning.
The weather service in using the term for the first time to convey that the fire conditions expected this week "have not been seen in recent memory."
Hurricane-force winds -- the kinds that knock down power lines and trees -- are expected to blow across bone-dry vegetation on Wednesday, and the weather service is warning there is a danger of very rapid fire spread.
Companies Plan to Turn Off Power Again
- Pacific Gas & Electric said it intends to interrupt power to about 596,000 customers in 29 counties in central and northern California by Tuesday night, with some outages starting in the morning.
- In Southern California, 205,000 customers in seven counties are under consideration for possible power shutoffs, Southern California Edison said.
Hurricane-Force Santa Ana Winds
A total of 43 counties in California are experiencing red-flag warnings or historic wind events, said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who also attended the news conference. “It’s been a long week,” he said.
Newsom declared a statewide emergency Sunday as wildfires spread throughout the state, burning tens of thousands of acres and forcing evacuations of more than 180,000 people. They include the massive Kincade fire in Northern California, which has destroyed at least 124 structures and threatens an additional 90,000.
Hopelessness of Wildfire Season
Please consider the Hopelessness of Wildfire Season
Fires are roaring across California again. Last week, the Tick Fire engulfed the Santa Clarita Valley just north of Los Angeles, forcing the evacuation of about 50,000 people. On Monday, the Getty Fire broke out along the western edge of Los Angeles in the early hours of the morning, quickly enveloping 600 acres. In Sonoma County—wine country—nearly 200,000 people had to evacuate over the weekend due to the Kincaid Fire, which doubled in size between Sunday and Monday and now is burning a swath of land more than twice the size of San Francisco. It is only 15 percent contained, with thousands of firefighters working around the clock. Officials haven’t determined the cause, but a jumper cable connecting PG&E equipment to a transmission tower near Kincade Road failed just minutes before officials say the fire began in the same location.
An investor-owned utility, PG&E provides power to most of California, servicing more than 16 million people. It’s also been found responsible for at least 17 of the state’s 21 major wildfires in 2017, not to mention last year’s Camp Fire in which 87 people died, making it the deadliest fire in California history. Several times this month, PG&E has cut the power on more than a million customers for fear of winds sparking a fire. Schools have closed. The lights went out in high-traffic tunnels. Residents on assistive medical devices were told to evacuate. PG&E owns these power lines and is supposed to trim the trees around them and keep its equipment in working order, but it has failed to keep up with these duties for decades. A number of factors, including climate change and patterns of settlement and development, have conspired to bring California to this point. But season after season, after the flames are out and the damage is tallied, Californians all too often learn that the fire started with a PG&E line.
Right now, PG&E would rather pull the plug on hundreds of thousands of people across large areas of the state for a few days—often on short notice—rather than risk another fire. It’s still not clear how the company will account for the more than $30 billion it’s estimated to owe due to destruction caused by the wildfires for which it’s been found responsible. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, freezing its debts as it continues to offer service to Californians. It’s now in the middle of a reorganization that will likely prioritize the interests of the creditors who are owed money over the fire victims who were displaced or lost loved ones, many of whom continue to pay a monthly bill to the utility.
How big are the California fires? See the size and shape of dozens of blazes on NBC's Map of California Fires.
Blackouts a Way of Life
PG&E now says "blackouts are a way of life".
Time to Move?
Fires, earthquakes, mud slides, taxes, insane property prices: I am not trying to be cynical and I wish the best for those affected, but is living in California worth it?
We are escaping Illinois, but it will be to Utah, not California.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock