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Sunday, August 12, 2018

California suffers the biggest fire in its history

Por Jade

The fire devours forests, houses and also records in Northern California. The state anti-fire authority announced Monday night that the so-called Mendocino Complex fire is already the largest since records exist. It had burned 114,800 hectares in just 11 days burning. The fire is the result of two different outbreaks and affects three counties in an area about two and a half hours north of San Francisco. By Monday night it continued to grow to 117,600 hectares at 7 am on Tuesday, it has approximately the size of the Los Angeles municipality. The data gives an idea of ​​the year of fires carried by California.

The fire season no longer occurs only at the end of summer, when temperatures rise. Last year lasted until December and the dry winter made it foresee that it would not give more than a few months of truce. Just eight months ago northern Los Angeles suffered the so-called Thomas fire, at that time the largest in history thanks to an unusual combination of high temperatures and strong desert winds in December. The record has lasted eight months. Four of the five largest fires ever recorded in California have occurred in the last decade. The fire, which consists of two foci called Ranch and River and covers a gigantic forest area between Lakes Clear, Pilsbury and Mendocino, is contained in 30% of its perimeter and continues to grow. "Unfortunately, it's not going to give us a break soon," meteorologist Brian Hurley told Reuters. "It's damn dry and hot and it's going to stay that way." "It's extremely fast, extremely aggressive, extremely dangerous," Scott McLean, deputy chief of firefighters in California, told Los Angeles Times. The flames have reached 90 meters in height at some points and the strong wind has spread the fire at full speed through an unusually dry land.

The fire has skipped four streams, a firewall and a main road. "Look how big it has been done in just a matter of days, look how quickly it has risen in the ranking. That does not happen. It just does not happen." The Thomas fire that broke the record in December was burning for almost a month. A total of 75 houses and 68 structures of another type have been destroyed. Some 11,300 continue to be threatened by fire, according to the last official part of the event. The fire was rekindled on Monday with new winds and a new rise in temperatures, which will continue to rise until the end of the week. More than 3,900 people work against the fire, with 15 helicopters and 93 trucks. Numerous locations have been evacuated in four counties. The Mendocino fire is the largest, but not the most destructive of the 16 major fires that are active in California. The so-called Carr fire, in the remote county of Shasta in the north of the state, had destroyed more than 1,600 structures (one thousand houses) until Monday night. 66,000 hectares have already burned and is 47% contained. The wind came to cause an amazing tornado of fire on July 26 with a speed of 240 kilometers per hour. Seven people have died in this fire.

The Carr Fire has already been ranked as the sixth most destructive in California's history. Again, the worst was only last year, in October, when the unusual repetition of the fire season began that lasted until January. Near the Yosemite National Park, an area very prone to fires every year, the so-called Ferguson fire has already burned 36,000 hectares and affects several entrances to one of the main tourist destinations in the State. The park announced on Sunday the indefinite closure of some of its most popular areas as a precaution against the speed of fire. In southern California, where a week is expected with temperatures that will be around 40 degrees, a fire started on Sunday had burned in a few hours 1,600 hectares of the Cleveland National Park, south of Los Angeles. Tuesday was still out of control giving an idea of the kind of vertiginous fires that firefighters face. Last Saturday, in a visit to the affected areas, the Governor of the State, Jerry Brown, said that it is necessary to get used to that this is going to be "the new normality". He had already warned the same in December.

Brown believes that the aggressiveness of fires in recent years, which experts attribute to four years of drought followed by one of the wettest years since there are records (2016), is proof that the consequences of the climate change are already being suffered, an absolute priority of his Government. In the middle of the tragedy, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, offered on Twitter his own explanation of why fire seasons are becoming more and more serious. In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, he said the fires "are getting worse because of bad environmental laws that do not allow a large amount of water that is ready to be used."

On Monday, he added in another tweet that water "is being diverted to the Pacific." The environmental laws of California, among the strictest in the United States, have been the political argument of the Republicans, especially the distribution of water that is made in the central, rural and agricultural valley. But nobody had questioned until now that there was enough water to put out fires. The Mendocino fire, in particular, has three full lakes around it. Trump has authorized the disaster declaration to help with federal funds to California. He has done it in all the great disasters since he is president, like the fires of last year.