UPDATE (8/23): California now battling 585 known wildfires | Straining Resources and Ability to Respond

The state was struck by lightning 10,849 times over the course of 72 hours said Gov. Newsom at news conference 3 days ago.

Yesterday, Saturday, August 22, President Trump approved a disaster declaration for California as wildfires in the state rage on, funneling federal aid to affected regions in Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties, according to a White House statement.

Governor Gavin Newsom said the SCU Lightning Complex fire south and east of San Francisco was the third largest in the state’s history.

Weather and COVID-19 continue to complicate the situation.  Concern over even more lightning strikes and forest officials have said that campfires left unattended by visitors to the forest areas have shown a 300% increase. Most wildfires are started by human agency/activities such as debris-burning, electrical power, vehicle, equipment use, arson, lightning, campfire, playing with fire, smoking, etc. (Source: What causes wildfires? San Francisco Chronicle, May 31, 2019)

HELP WANTED! 14,000 firefighters battling fires across the state; More needed.

Over 14,000 firefighters are battling 585 fires that have now burnt nearly one million acres. Reinforcement crews, fire engines and aircraft from 10 states, including Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Nevada, Iowa, Utah and Montana, began arriving in California on Friday to help to state’s crews who have been tirelessly fighting the blazes all week.

Governor Newsom has also reached out to Canada and Australia for support, specifically for firefighter personnel, to help “overwhelmed” frontline heroes.

At least six people have died, and thousands have been evacuated, with some people refusing to leave the evacuation zone out of stubbornness or wanting to protect their homes from the fire and others who use the chaos to commit crimes. Best advice: Leave. You can replace your home and valuables; you cannot replace your life.

At least 43 people including firefighters have been injured, and hundreds of buildings have burned down and thousands more are threatened.

With 650,000 coronavirus cases, many evacuees are grappling with fears over going to emergency shelters. People entering Emergency shelters are being given pre-screening temperature checks and asked to answer a series of health questions. Shelters are enforcing social distancing rules and mask wearing and some cases, are even giving out tents to families to self-isolate, while others are setting up separate emergency shelters for evacuees that display a high temperature. In unable or unwilling to stay at an emergency shelter, officials are telling people to consider sheltering with family and friends.

High winds are forecast and threatening to drive flames into more populated areas as dirty air from smoke blankets the state.

Original Article 8/20/2020: California is battling 367 known fires | State blanketed in smoke and fire

Wildfires, started by lightning and stoked by a searing heatwave, combined with fierce winds, have been moving quickly, overwhelming the state’s firefighters and first responders.

Governor Gavin Newsom reported at a press conference yesterday, Wednesday, August 19th, that the state is currently battling 367 known fires. “We are challenged right now,” the governor said. The state was struck by lightning 10,849 times over the course of 72 hours, he said.

Newsom went on to say that nearly 7,000 firefighters are currently on the frontlines and the state has been forced to call on outside resources for backup, requesting 375 fire engines from neighboring states.

Arizona and Nevada have sent equipment to California and Texas has offered to send firefighting crews, Newsom said.

30% of state’s firefighters are inmates, but with the coronavirus pandemic shutdown of many prisons and early releases, there is a severe shortage of firefighter resources.

And thanks to inmates locked down due to the coronavirus, the firefighting effort is handicapped form the lack of backup resources.

CalFire reported that a helicopter pilot near Coalinga on a water dropping mission in western Fresno county died after his helicopter crashed on Wednesday morning.

The combined excessive heat and fires has The American Lung Association urging people to take greater caution, saying the poor air quality could make breathing problems more dangerous for people already at-risk of contracting Covid-19.

Climate change, as evidenced by the soaring temperatures around the state, country, and around the world, is behind the rapidly growing number of wildfires world-wide, especially here in California, says experts. Those experts also say that it is not going to change, but only get worse.

Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department Posted the map below on its Facebook page:


19 Responses to UPDATE (8/23): California now battling 585 known wildfires | Straining Resources and Ability to Respond

  1. Walter Sobchak August 24, 2020 at 9:06 am #

    Am I the only one wondering if 585 fires is atypical during a fire season in CA?

  2. eric h. August 23, 2020 at 9:24 pm #

    Not sure if you can really place blame and I really don’t think you can critique the response after looking at this……https://activenorcal.com/15-insane-photos-from-northern-californias-2-day-lightning-storm/

  3. Art La Cues August 23, 2020 at 4:38 pm #

    Charles, you are the best news source in Inyo County. You and and your station really go into the details and are not afraid to report on news that may step on some toes! Keep up the good work.

  4. Tourbillon August 23, 2020 at 3:23 pm #

    From the article:

    “Most wildfires are started by people being careless with campfires.”

    “Climate change, as evidenced by the soaring temperatures around the state, country, and around the world, is behind the rapidly growing number of wildfires world-wide, especially here in California, say experts.”

    Which is behind the “rapidly growing number of wildfires”, I wonder? Human carelessness, or climate change? There happens to be a consensus about a theory – which is as close as we can get to an answer – but an uncritical appeal to the authority of bureaucrats is not it.

    • Charles James August 23, 2020 at 8:19 pm #

      “Most wildfires…” was supposed to read “Many wildfires…” based on a conversation that I had with an INFS official during last year’s fire season.
      The wording was changed to read “human agency/activities,” i.e., “human-caused,” which includes a host of causation found in fire studies. “Uncritical appeal to the authority of bureaucrats,” is an age-old political problem. Not all bureaucrats are the same. I have known plenty of very good “bureaucrats” in my lifetime. Many of them are intelligent, well-educated, and experienced professionals whose opinion does, in fact, matter, and also lends credibility in appeal to their authority.

      As to the question that you posed on “which is behind the rapidly growing number of wildfires?” either being “human carelessness or climate change,”some would argue that they are essentially “the same thing.” Future generations will likely look back and wonder why people of our time, individually and collectively, refused to take the thoughtless abuse of the planet and its resources seriously, especially knowing the adverse it would have on their lives in the future.

      As always, thanks for commenting. Appreciate your sharing your thoughts and opinions.

  5. BobK August 21, 2020 at 10:38 am #

    Thank you!

  6. Lori August 21, 2020 at 6:58 am #

    Came for the article on fires, stayed for the intellectually stimulating comments. Anyone else hear a crowd cheering, “Jerry! Jerry!”, or is that just me?

    • Charles James August 21, 2020 at 7:26 am #

      Thank you! Even the weather and existential threat of wildfires is not safe from politics. We’re doing something rare; we’re removing political comments from this post as you are not the first to complain about the politicization of…everything. Climate change is a legitimate course of discussion for this post. The past election and this one are not.

      • erik simpson August 21, 2020 at 7:52 am #

        Bravo! There have been a lot of political comments lately in response to anything. Many if not most are stupid/insensitive or just pointless. SW isn’t obligated to be a sounding board for cranks.

        • Tourbillon August 21, 2020 at 7:33 pm #

          And yet your comments are posted. Ironic.

      • Blob August 21, 2020 at 4:13 pm #

        Does that mean Davidson’s posts will not be shown?

        • Charles James August 21, 2020 at 7:21 pm #

          As we said, we are not going to allow every topic posted to be turned into a political circus. There are plenty of Facebook groups out there for people to express themselves on. Does this mean that no political comments will be allowed? No, but not on this particular thread.

          These fires pose an existential threat to our communities, property, and more importantly, lives. It is not the place for petty “I know you are; but what am I?” arguments, kabuki politics, and name-calling back and forth. It is tiresome and needs to stop, as do multiple postings which keep saying the same things over and over on post after post.

          Having said that, we want to thank all of you that take the time to post. To encourage others to discuss issues in a thoughtful manner, offer different views and share sources, or simply take the time to express how you feel about a topic or a person in a civil and mature manner. Thank you.

      • Stop non-essential travel August 22, 2020 at 6:41 pm #

        Thank you Charles James! And THANK YOU to the firefighters on the front lines trying to bring these fires under control.

  7. Good bye August 21, 2020 at 5:22 am #

    Couldn’t be the flawless environment policies could it.


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