2018 California wildfires

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2018 California wildfires
West Coast MODIS via EOSDIS 20180801.png
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Garner Complex
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Natchez Fire
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Carr Fire
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Mendocino  Complex
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Ferguson Fire
An August 1, 2018, satellite image of the wildfires burning in Northern California and Southern Oregon; smoke can be seen trailing northeastward over Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho
Statistics [1] [2] [3]
Total fires8,527
Total area1,893,913 acres (766,439 ha)
Cost>$3.5 billion (2018 USD) [4] [5] [6] [7]
Fatalities98 civilians and 6 firefighters killed [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16]
Non-fatal injuriesAt least 80 total
Season
  2017
2019  

The 2018 wildfire season was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres (766,439 ha), the largest amount of burned acreage recorded in a fire season, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), as of December 21. [1] [2] [3] The fires have caused more than $3.5 billion (2018 USD) in damages, including $1.792 billion in fire suppression costs. [4] [5] [6] [7] Through the end of August 2018, Cal Fire alone spent $432 million on operations. [17] The Mendocino Complex Fire burned more than 459,000 acres (186,000 ha), becoming the largest complex fire in the state's history, with the complex's Ranch Fire surpassing the Thomas Fire and the Santiago Canyon Fire of 1889 to become California's single-largest recorded wildfire. [18] [19]

2018 wildfire season

The 2018 wildfire season involves wildfires on multiple continents. An extremely rare event occurred when wildfires broke out north of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia, with one burning on the Russia–Finland border near the Barents Sea on July 20. By the end of the calendar year, the fires in British Columbia had burned more area than in any prior recorded year; and California experienced the single largest fire on record, and a fire destroyed more structures than in any other in modern history.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection agency in California

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is the State of California's agency responsible for fire protection in State Responsibility Areas of California totaling 31 million acres, as well as the administration of the state's private and public forests. In addition, the Department provides varied emergency services in 36 of the State's 58 counties via contracts with local governments. It is often called the California Department of Forestry, which was the name of the department before the 1990s.

Contents

In mid-July to August 2018, a series of large wildfires erupted across California, mostly in the northern part of the state, including the destructive Carr Fire and the Mendocino Complex Fire. On August 4, 2018, a national disaster was declared in Northern California, due to the extensive wildfires burning there. [20]

Carr Fire 2018 wildfire in Shasta and Trinity Counties, California, United States

The Carr Fire was a large wildfire that burned in Shasta and Trinity Counties in California, United States. The fire burned 229,651 acres, before it was 100% contained late on August 30, 2018. The Carr Fire destroyed at least 1,604 structures while damaging 277 others, becoming the sixth-most destructive fire in California history, as well as the seventh-largest wildfire recorded in modern California history. The Carr Fire cost over $1.659 billion (2018) in damages, including $1.5 billion in insured losses and more than $158.7 million in suppression costs. At its height, the fire engaged as many as 4,766 personnel from multiple agencies. The fire was reported on the afternoon of July 23, 2018, at the intersection of Highway 299 and Carr Powerhouse Road, in the Whiskeytown district of the Whiskeytown–Shasta–Trinity National Recreation Area. The fire was started when a flat tire on a vehicle caused the wheel's rim to scrape against the asphalt, creating sparks that set off the fire.

In November 2018, strong winds aggravated conditions in another round of large, destructive fires that occurred across the state. This new batch of wildfires includes the Woolsey Fire and the Camp Fire, the latter of which killed at least 86 people [16] with 3 [16] still unaccounted for as of 4 December 2018. It destroyed more than 18,000 structures, becoming both California's deadliest and most destructive wildfire on record.

Woolsey Fire Large 2018 wildfire in southern California

The Woolsey Fire was a destructive wildfire that burned in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties of the U.S. state of California. The fire ignited on November 8, 2018 and burned 96,949 acres of land. The fire destroyed 1,643 structures, killed three people, and prompted the evacuation of more than 295,000 people. It was one of several fires in California that ignited on the same day. While the nearby Hill Fire was contained with minimal damage on November 16, the Camp Fire in northern California destroyed most of the town of Paradise.

Camp Fire (2018) 2018 wildfire in Butte County, California

The Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history to date. It is also the deadliest wildfire in the United States since the Cloquet fire in 1918, and is high on the list of the world's deadliest wildfires; it is the sixth-deadliest U.S. wildfire overall. It was the world's costliest natural disaster in 2018. Named after Camp Creek Road, its place of origin, the fire started on November 8, 2018, in Butte County, in Northern California. After exhibiting extreme fire behavior through the community of Concow, an urban firestorm formed in the densely populated foothill town of Paradise. The fire caused at least 85 civilian fatalities, with 3 persons still missing, and injured 12 civilians, two prison inmate firefighters, and three other firefighters. It covered an area of 153,336 acres (62,053 ha), and destroyed 18,804 structures, with most of the damage occurring within the first four hours. Total damage was $16.5 billion; one-quarter of the damage, $4 billion, was not insured. The fire reached 100 percent containment after seventeen days on November 25, 2018.

Increased fire susceptibility

Many different factors led to the 2018 California wildfire season becoming so destructive. A combination of an increased amount of natural fuel and compounding atmospheric conditions linked to global warming led to a series of destructive fires. Recent research on wildfires in California, published in August 2018, predicted an increase in the number of wildfires as a consequence of climate change. [21] Humans have been recorded as the main cause of wildfires in California. Various causes, both intentional and accidental, such as arson, unattended campfires, fireworks, cigarettes, cars, and power lines have contributed to this increase in the number of fires. Updating equipment, ensuring forest maintenance is being completed, and having oversight by state and federal governments are some of the mitigating actions that can reduce the risk of wildfires.

Global warming rise in the average temperature of the Earths climate system and its related effects

Global warming is a long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system, an aspect of climate change shown by temperature measurements and by multiple effects of the warming. Though earlier geological periods also experienced episodes of warming, the term commonly refers to the observed and continuing increase in average air and ocean temperatures since 1900 caused mainly by emissions of greenhouse gasses in the modern industrial economy. In the modern context the terms global warming and climate change are commonly used interchangeably, but climate change includes both global warming and its effects, such as changes to precipitation and impacts that differ by region. Many of the observed warming changes since the 1950s are unprecedented in the instrumental temperature record, and in historical and paleoclimate proxy records of climate change over thousands to millions of years.

Climate change Change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns for an extended period

Climate change occurs when changes in Earth's climate system result in new weather patterns that last for at least a few decades, and maybe for millions of years. The climate system is comprised of five interacting parts, the atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), cryosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere. The climate system receives nearly all of its energy from the sun, with a relatively tiny amount from earth's interior. The climate system also gives off energy to outer space. The balance of incoming and outgoing energy, and the passage of the energy through the climate system, determines Earth's energy budget. When the incoming energy is greater than the outgoing energy, earth's energy budget is positive and the climate system is warming. If more energy goes out, the energy budget is negative and earth experiences cooling.

Increase in fuel

A direct contributor to the 2018 California wildfires was an increase in dead tree fuel. [22] By December 2017, there was a record 129 million dead trees in California. [23]

Atmospheric conditions

Stanford Earth System Science Professor Noah Diffenbaugh stated that atmospheric conditions for California wildfires are expected to worsen in the future because of the effects of climate change in California and that "what we're seeing over the last few years in terms of the wildfire season in California [is] very consistent with the historical trends in terms of increasing temperatures, increasing dryness, and increasing wildfire risk." Other experts agreed, saying that global warming is to blame for these extreme weather conditions. Global warming led to higher temperatures and less rain, creating a drier landscape that gave fires more fuel to burn longer and stronger. [24]

Stanford University private research university located in Stanford, California, United States

Leland Stanford Junior University is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic strength, wealth, proximity to Silicon Valley, and ranking as one of the world's top universities.

Noah S. Diffenbaugh is an American geoscientist at Stanford University, where he is the Kara J Foundation Professor of Earth System Science and Kimmelman Family Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and an affiliate at the Precourt Institute for Energy. He is also the editor-in-chief of Geophysical Research Letters. He is known for his research on the climate system, including the effects of global warming on extreme weather and climate events such as the 2011-2017 California drought.

Climate change in California Effects of global warming and resultant drought and risk of wildfire.

Climate change and the effects of global warming with regard to the climate in California primarily revolve around issues such as drought and the subsequent risk of wildfire and related occurrences. A 2011 study projected that the frequency and magnitude of both maximum and minimum temperatures would increase significantly as a result of global warming. The same study further projected that the frequency and magnitude of both maximum and minimum temperatures would likely increase as a result of global warming.

Residential construction in the wildland-urban interface

A wildland–urban interface (or WUI) refers to the zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development. Communities that are within 0.5 miles (0.80 km) of the zone may also be included. These lands and communities adjacent to and surrounded by wildlands are at risk of wildfires. [25] Since the 1990s, over 43% of new residential buildings have been constructed in this area. In some areas, the amount of new residences in those areas is 80%. [26] In the past, when these areas burned, no residences were lost, but now residences are present, which end up being destroyed. [27]

Air quality

Air quality of California on August 7, 2018 AirqualityCA2018August.jpg
Air quality of California on August 7, 2018

Northern California and the Central Valley saw drastic increases in air pollutants during the height of the July and August fires, while Southern California also experienced an increase in air pollution in August. [28] Air quality in Northern and Central California remained poor until mid-September 2018, when fire activity was drastically diminished. However, during the November Camp Fire, air quality diminished again, with the majority of the Bay being subjected to air quality indexes (AQIs) of 200 and above, in the "unhealthy" region.

Wildfires

The following is a list of fires that burned more than 1,000 acres (400 ha), or produced significant structural damage or loss of life.

NameCountyAcresStart dateContainment dateNotesRef
Pleasant Inyo 2,070February 18, 2018April 3, 2018 [29]
Moffat Inyo 1,265April 19, 2018May 21, 2018 [30]
Nees Merced 1,756May 2, 2018May 17, 2018 [31]
Patterson Riverside 1,261May 17, 2018May 21, 2018 [32]
Panoche San Benito 64June 4, 2018June 7, 20183 civilians killed [33] [8]
Stone Los Angeles 1,352June 4, 2018June 13, 2018 [34]
Airline San Benito 1,314June 4, 2018June 14, 2018 [35]
Apple Tehama 2,956June 9, 2018June 14, 20183 residential structures and 2 outbuildings destroyed [36]
Chrome Glenn 2,290June 9, 2018June 21, 20181 outbuilding destroyed [37]
Lions Madera 13,347June 11, 2018October 1, 2018 [38] [39]
Planada Merced 4,564June 15, 2018June 21, 2018 [40]
Yankee San Luis Obispo 1,500June 20, 2018July 1, 2018 [41]
Lane Tehama 3,716June 23, 2018July 4, 20181 injury [42]
Pawnee Lake 15,185June 23, 2018July 8, 201822 structures destroyed, 1 injury [43]
Creek Madera 1,678June 24, 2018July 5, 20184 residential structures and 7 minor structures destroyed [44]
Waverly San Joaquin 12,300June 29, 2018July 2, 2018 [45]
County Lake, Napa, Yolo 90,288June 30, 2018July 14, 201820 structures destroyed; 1 firefighter injured [46]
Klamathon Siskiyou 38,008July 5, 2018July 16, 201882 structures destroyed; 3 injuries, 1 civilian killed [47] [48]
Valley San Bernardino 1,350July 6, 2018October 22, 20185 injured [49] [50] [4]
Holiday Santa Barbara 113July 6, 2018July 11, 201820 structures destroyed [51]
Pendleton Complex San Diego 1,800July 6, 2018July 11, 2018Originated as 3 separate fires; burned in Camp Pendleton [52] [53]
West San Diego 504July 6, 2018July 11, 201856 structures destroyed [54]
Georges Inyo 2,883July 8, 2018July 18, 2018 [55] [56] [4]
Ferguson Mariposa 96,901July 13, 2018August 18, 201819 firefighters injured, 2 firefighters killed; 10 structures destroyed [9] [57]
Eagle Modoc 2,100July 13, 2018July 17, 2018 [58] [4]
Natchez Del Norte, Siskiyou 38,134July 15, 2018October 30, 2018 [59] [60]
Carr Shasta 229,651July 23, 2018August 30, 20181,079 residences, 22 commercial structures, 503 outbuildings destroyed
190 residences, 26 commercial structures, and 63 outbuildings damaged
3 firefighters and 5 civilians killed
[61]
Cranston Riverside 13,139July 26, 2018August 10, 201812 buildings destroyed [62]
Mendocino Complex Mendocino, Lake, Colusa, Glenn 459,123July 27, 2018September 18, 2018The Ranch and River Fires are collectively called the Mendocino Complex Fire
157 residential buildings destroyed, 123 others destroyed
13 residential buildings and 24 other buildings damaged
1 firefighter killed, 4 firefighters injured
[63] [64] [19] [65]
Whaleback Lassen 18,703July 27, 2018August 7, 2018 [66]
Butte Sutter 1,200July 31, 2018August 3, 2018 [67]
Donnell Tuolumne 36,450August 1, 2018October 1, 2018135 structures destroyed; 9 civilians injured [68]
Tarina Kern 2,950August 3, 2018August 6, 2018 [69]
Pendleton San Diego 1,000August 5, 2018August 6, 2018Burned in Camp Pendleton [70]
Turkey Monterey 2,225August 6, 2018August 6, 2018 [71]
Holy Orange, Riverside 23,136August 6, 2018September 13, 201818 structures destroyed; 3 firefighters injured [72] [73] [74] [75]
Five Kings 2,995August 6, 2018August 8, 2018 [76]
Hirz Shasta 46,150August 9, 2018September 12, 2018 [77]
Hat Shasta 1,900August 9, 2018August 16, 2018 [78]
Nelson Solano 2,162August 10, 2018August 12, 2018 [79]
Stone Modoc 39,387August 15, 2018August 29, 2018 [80]
Mill Creek 1 Humboldt 3,674August 16, 2018August 30, 2018 [81]
Front San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara 1,014August 19, 2018August 29, 2018 [82]
North Placer 1,120September 3, 2018September 16, 2018 [83]
Boot Mono 6,974September 4, 2018September 15, 2018 [84]
Kerlin Trinity 1,751September 4, 2018September 17, 2018 [85]
Delta Shasta 63,311September 5, 2018October 7, 2018Merged into the Hirz Fire; 20 structures destroyed [86]
Snell Napa 2,490September 8, 2018September 15, 2018 [87]
Charlie Los Angeles 3,380September 22, 2018October 1, 2018 [88] [89]
Alder Tulare 4,653October 4, 2018December 7, 2018 [90]
Eden Tulare 1,777October 4, 2018December 7, 2018 [91] [92]
Branscombe Solano 4,700October 7, 2018November 9, 20184 structures destroyed [93] [94]
Sun Tehama 3,889October 7, 2018October 12, 2018 [95]
Mountaineer Tulare 1,270October 13, 2018December 7, 2018 [96]
Camp Butte 153,336November 8, 2018November 25, 2018

5 firefighters injured, 86 civilian deaths, 12 civilians injured, 3 civilians missing; 18,804 structures destroyed, 564 structures damaged

[97] [98] [16]
Nurse Solano 1,500November 8, 2018November 27, 2018 [99]
Hill Ventura 4,531November 8, 2018November 15, 20184 structures destroyed [100]
Woolsey Los Angeles, Ventura 96,949November 8, 2018November 22, 20181,643 structures destroyed, 364 damaged [101] [102] [103]

Fatalities

The Woolsey Fire encroaching on Malibu on November 9 Woolsey Fire evacuation from Malibu on November 9, 2018.jpg
The Woolsey Fire encroaching on Malibu on November 9

On June 4, the Panoche Fire broke out, in a series of three blazes that started in the San Benito County area. While the Panoche incident was the smallest of the three fires, burning only 64 acres (26 ha), the remains of three people were found in a destroyed camping trailer in the burn area. [8] [104] The remains were believed to belong to a mother, a toddler, and an infant. [8] [105]

On July 14, a Cal Fire bulldozer operator was killed while fighting the Ferguson Fire, becoming the first firefighter death of the season. [9]

On July 23, the Carr Fire broke out after a vehicle malfunctioned. While the Carr Fire burned in rural areas of Shasta County for the first few days, it crossed the Sacramento River and entered the city limits of Redding, California on the evening of July 26. By the next morning, two firefighters and four civilians had been killed. [10] [11] [106]

On July 29, a firefighter with the National Park Service was killed after a dead tree fell and struck him, while he was fighting the Ferguson Fire. He was "treated on scene, but died before he could be taken to the hospital". [12]

On August 4, a Pacific Gas and Electric Company employee was killed in a vehicle incident while working to restore services to areas impacted by the Carr Fire. [13]

On August 9, a Cal Fire heavy equipment mechanic was killed in a traffic incident while working at the Carr Fire. [14]

On August 13, a firefighter was killed while fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire. [15]

On November 8, 2018, at least 88 civilians were killed by the Camp Fire, while three firefighters were injured, the fire also destroyed more than 10,321 structures, becoming the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history. [107] Three people also died during the Woolsey Fire near Malibu. [108] The number dead was lowered to 85 by early December when it was discovered one victim was put in several bags. [16]

Verizon Wireless data throttling

The Santa Clara County Fire Department raised claims against Verizon Wireless that their "unlimited" data service had been throttled while the fire department was attempting to contain the Mendocino Complex Fire.[ when? ] The Verizon contract stated that the department's plan would be throttled down to 200 kbit/s or 600 kbit/s once the department had used 25 GB in a single month. However, the contract stated that the usage related throttling would not apply in certain emergency situations, such as wildfire containment operations. The plan remained throttled, despite the department's notification to Verizon regarding the situation. [109] [110]

See also

Related Research Articles

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October 2017 Northern California wildfires Wikinews article

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Mendocino Complex Fire 2018 wildfire in California

The Mendocino Complex Fire was the largest recorded fire complex in California history. It was a large complex of two wildfires, the River Fire and Ranch Fire, which burned in Mendocino, Lake, Colusa, and Glenn Counties in the U.S. State of California, with the Ranch Fire being California's single-largest recorded wildfire. The Ranch Fire burned eight miles northeast of Ukiah, and the River Fire burned six miles north of Hopland, to the south of the larger Ranch Fire. First reported on July 27, 2018, both fires burned a combined total of 459,123 acres (1,858 km2), before they were collectively 100% contained on September 18; the Ranch Fire alone burned 410,203 acres (1,660 km2), surpassing the Thomas Fire to become the single-largest modern California wildfire. The Ranch Fire also surpassed the size of the 315,577-acre Rush Fire, which burned across California and Nevada, as well as the Santiago Canyon Fire of 1889, which was previously believed to have been California's all-time largest wildfire. The fires collectively destroyed 280 structures while damaging 37 others; causing at least $267 million in damages, including $56 million in insured property damage and $201 million in fire suppression costs. The city of Lakeport, communities of Kelseyville, Lucerne, Upper Lake, Nice, Saratoga Springs, Witter Springs, Potter Valley, and Finley, parts of Hopland, and the tribal communities of Hopland Rancheria and Big Valley Rancheria were evacuated.

Hirz Fire

The Hirz Fire was a wildfire that burned near Lakehead, California in the Shasta National Forest. The fire burned a total of 46,150 acres (187 km2), before it was fully contained on September 12. The fire was burning only a few miles from the enormous Carr Fire, the sixth-most destructive fire in California history. On September 10, the growing Delta Fire burned into the western perimeter of the Hirz Fire.

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