Saturday, January 18, 2020

Violent fires continue to ravage California

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Fire is a regular occurrence in California, but its frequency has accelerated significantly in recent years.

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Firefighters fight the Hillside fire in the North Park neighborhood of San Bernardino, California on October 31, 2019. JOSH EDELSON / AFP

New fires broke out on Thursday, October 31, near Los Angeles, driven by high winds, resulting in a new wave of forced evacuations into southern California. More than a dozen fires have been active in the region for several days, fought by thousands of firefighters.

In San Bernardino, 100 km east of Los Angeles, the Hillside Fire declared Thursday before dawn. He has already destroyed several buildings and an evacuation order has been issued for part of the city, according to local firefighters. A little later, another fire started in the Jurupa Valley, a few kilometers south of San Bernardino, causing destruction and evacuation as well.

The electric operator Edison has announced that it could cut power to high voltage lines, to avoid short circuits that could cause a fire. Some 64,000 users in the region are affected by these power cuts.

Read also Fires in California: "We touch the limit of what man can against nature"
A house burns in the North Park neighborhood of San Bernardino, California on October 31, 2019.
A house burns in the North Park neighborhood of San Bernardino, California on October 31, 2019. JOSH EDELSON / AFP

"Extremely critical" conditions

These conditions "Extremely critical" – strong winds, low humidity, dry vegetation – should last part of the day. National Meteorology (NWS) forecasts gusts between 65 km / h and 100 km / h in the morning, before a lull in the afternoon.

On Wednesday, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library narrowly escaped another fire near Los Angeles. Called Easy Fire, the fire broke out around 6am in the Simi Valley, northwest of the California metropolis, before spreading over more than 600 hectares during the day, according to firefighters. The fire was contained only 5% Wednesday night and the authorities remained cautious because of the winds that continued to blow.

More than 600 km north, near San Francisco, firefighters made progress against Kincade Fire, which has devoured over 31,000 hectares in the Sonoma County wine region in a week. 60% of the fire was contained by some 5,000 firefighters deployed in the area. According to the relief, the flames will take weeks to be completely extinguished.

All of California was placed Sunday in a state of emergency by its governor, Gavin Newsom. Fire is a regular occurrence in California, but its frequency has accelerated significantly in recent years. The state had known in November 2018 Camp Fire, one of the deadliest fires in its history, killing 86 people and tens of thousands of displaced.

See as well Kincade Fire devastates northern California

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