Fire in the Dry

July 25, 2015

MatsPetersson1Bright and sunny this Saturday afternoon on California’s north coast as we continue onward through the weekend.

And on through the summer — supposedly California’s forest-fire season. The burning started earlier this year, if it really stopped at all during the winter, and also continues onward, with 3,600 fires statewide in 2015, ‘almost 1,300 more than usual.’
Not just with us, either: ‘Wildfires have burned a phenomenal 5.5 million acres across the U.S. so far this year, an area equal to the size of New Jersey.’

In a joyous firefighting note, the so-called Wragg Fire scorching almost 7,000 acres down in the Napa wine country of the North Bay, was this morning nearly 50 percent contained, allowing evacuation orders and road closures to be lifted.
Major damage apparently averted.

(Illustration: From the ‘Firewatch‘ series, by Mats Petersson, found here).

No so for the crazy so-called North Fire in the Cajon Pass, east of LA — after burning more than five days was declared 100 percent contained last Tuesday, but not before it destroyed 18 vehicles and two big rigs on Interstate 15 and seven homes after aerial firefighting efforts were delayed by drones in the area.
As of Thursday afternoon, 18 wildfires were burning in seven states, mostly in the West. Another one is charring Glacier National Park in Montana. And Alaska the hot-spot — 85 percent of the burned, 4.7 million acres, have been in Alaska.
And it will only get worse.

California forest fires are also paying into the required hands of a heat-induced-changing world — from Capital Public Radio on Friday:

A new study shows wildfires are increasingly occurring at higher elevations in the Sierra Nevada.
Researchers say climate change and some forest management practices may be driving the change.
In the early 20th century, fires rarely burned above 8,000 feet in the Sierra.
But in the past three decades, several fires have burned at or above that level every year.
The study suggests warming temperatures associated with climate change may be increasing tree density and the amount of fuel.
“Increased forest growth at high elevations is unmistakable.” says Mark Schwartz, with UC Davis and the lead author of the study.
“That climate is changing and warming and giving a longer growing season for those trees is also unmistakable. So is the pattern that we’ve suppressed fires and reduced the number of them that could have moved up in the past to reduce those fuels,” he says.
Schwartz says it’s probably both of those factors.
He says the findings may not change how forest fires are fought but it could change how forests are restored after fires.
The study was published in the journal Ecosphere.

Tis the season, but yet so far, and especially for the above-mentioned Wragg Fire, business as usual for business:

Businesses close to the wildfires say commerce hasn’t been affected, with customers buying wine and renting cabins and boats by Lake Berryessa, one of California’s largest bodies of fresh water.
“You’re getting the last few weeks before school starts and getting all the fun you can,” said Terry Sparkman, general manager of Pleasure Cove Resort & Marina, which is a few miles west of the wildfires.

Torch it up…and in this dry California drought dying out our state, fire on the mountains.

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