California wildfires threaten mountain communities



Seen from the community of Foresthill in Placer County, Calif., a plume rises from the Mosquito Fire on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)


On Friday, firefighters struggled to control raging California wildfires, which grew explosively during the extreme heat and forced thousands of residents to flee mountain communities at both ends of the the state.

The Fairview Fire in Southern California covered about 37 square miles (95 square kilometers) of Riverside County and was only 5% contained. Two people died fleeing the flames on Monday and at least 11 structures were destroyed. More than 18,000 homes were threatened by the blaze fueled by shifting winds, officials said Thursday evening.

To the north, in the Sierra Nevada, the Mosquito Fire burned out of control, burning at least 20 square miles (52 square kilometers) and threatening 3,600 homes in Placer and El Dorado counties, while blanketing the region of smoke.

Flames jumped the American River, burning structures in the mountain hamlet of Volcanoville and approaching the towns of Foresthill, home to around 1,500 people, and Georgetown, home to 3,000 people. Fire department spokesman Chris Vestal called the rapid fire an “extreme and critical fire threat”.

Stefani Lake evacuated her hilltop home near Georgetown on Thursday after sheriff’s deputies knocked on doors to tell people to get out. “The dogs are in the back of the car, I have a room for the night, so I’m good to go,” Lake told the Sacramento Bee.

About 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the east, the Nevada Environmental Protection Division warned the Reno area that air quality could be very unhealthy to hazardous due to smoke from the Mosquito Fire.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation. Pacific Gas & Electric informed the State Public Utilities Commission that the United States Forest Service had placed caution tape around the base of a PG&E transmission pole, but no damage was found. was visible. PG&E said unspecified “electrical activity” occurred shortly after the September 6 fire was reported.

Another dangerous blaze burned in stands of woods near the Big Bear Lake resort area in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles. It was only 2% contained after burning nearly 2 square miles (5 square kilometers).

California faced other weather threats as an oppressive heat wave strained the state’s power grid and humidity from a tropical storm threatened to trigger thunderstorms and flooding .

A flurry of clouds and showers associated with Tropical Storm Kay off Mexico’s Baja California peninsula has occasionally dropped temperatures in Southern California, but has also been a potential problem for solar generation . The storm was downgraded to a hurricane Thursday evening.

Despite Kay’s initial impacts, forecasters warned that the heat was not over yet.

“The seemingly endless heat wave plaguing California will finally come to an end in at least Southern California, but not before two more very hot days and very hot nights,” wrote the Los Area Weather Bureau. Angeles.

California’s power grid operators issued another “Flex Alert” call for voluntary reductions in electricity use and extended the period by two hours, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Grid.

Smoke from wildfires and cloud cover have created uncertainty about solar power generation in the afternoon when temperatures rise toward their highs, said Elliot Mainzer, president and CEO of the California Independent. SystemOperator.

Cal-ISO has issued Flex Alerts since last week and avoided ordering power outages, though miscommunication with a Northern California supplier led to outages.

With record power demand across the West, California hit its record high power consumption around 5 p.m. Tuesday with 52,061 megawatts, well above the previous record of 50,270 megawatts set on July 24, 2006. .

An emergency conservation call sent to Californians’ cellphones was credited with an immediate drop in demand on the power grid Tuesday night.

Storm and wind conditions associated with the hurricane’s approach were likely to create a new set of power shortage risks in Southern California, he noted.

Kay was expected to reach northern Baja California on Friday, the National Weather Service said. Despite the hurricanes losing strength, Kay was expected to send a wave of moisture to Southern California. High winds, heavy rain and flash flooding were likely Friday night through Saturday. Tropical storm warnings were posted for mariners.

On the West Coast, forecasters predicted strong, gusty winds and low humidity in western Oregon starting Friday and authorities warned of increased wildfire danger after an end abnormally hot and dry summer.

An Oregon utility said it would cut power to about 12,500 customers south and west of Portland in anticipation of strong, dry winds that pose a serious wildfire danger to the area. . Another utility says about 30,000 additional customers could also have their power cut in a bid to prevent fires from subsiding or severing power lines.


Associated Press writers Stefanie Dazio and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles, Gillian Flaccus in Portland, Oregon, and Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, contributed to this report.


Comments are closed.