California Fires: What you need to know

This is the transcript of the wildfire story on The Morning Brew for July 31, 2018. If you wish to see a video clip of the reporting, click here:

Cali fire

There is also an archive of the stream in its entirety on Twitch for a limited time.

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Firefighters are battling 17 wildfires across the state, which have consumed more than 200,000 acres combined in terrain stretching from Southern California to the Oregon border.  Jonathan Cox, battalion chief and information officer with Cal Fire noted, “We’ve had 17 fires before, But these are impacting communities — and they’re large fires, not small. With so many fires burning near populated areas, resources are obviously stretched thin.”  By Sunday afternoon, about 12,000 firefighters from within the state had responded. An additional 800 personnel — soldiers and helicopter crews — had been deployed by the California National Guard. And 150 fire engines were on the way from other parts of the country. California will be receiving help from crews from at least a dozen other states, including Florida and New Jersey.

cali fire picThe Carr Fire raging in Northern California is so large and hot that it is creating its own localized weather system with variable strong winds, making it difficult for experts to predict which way the blaze will spread.  At least 19 people were still reported missing in Shasta County, California, officials said at a community meeting Monday evening. The fire has claimed six lives, including a firefighter and bulldozer operator working to extinguish the blaze. Authorities have received 48 missing person reports but 29 people have since been found safe, according to Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko. Flames have destroyed at least 966 structures in the area, making it one of the top 10 most destructive wildfires in California history. The fire began July 23 when a vehicle suffered a mechanical failure, officials said. Firefighters had been making progress containing it until Thursday night, when it began to quickly spread.

Wildfires like this can get so hot they make pyrocumulus clouds, formations that look like mushroom clouds and can be seen for miles. Cumulus clouds are usually formed when the sun heats the ground, sending warm air up, where the air cools and condenses to form a cloud. In a wildfire, heat from flames forces the air to rise quickly. Water inside trees and other plants evaporates. The added moisture condenses in the cooler air above. The clouds look and act like thunderstorms. They can produce lightning and powerful winds in different directions, further complicating efforts of firefighters. Sometimes, they even contain enough moisture to become a type of cloud that can produce rain — possibly even putting out the blaze.

The National Weather Service also warned that forecast conditions would worsen the situation. “A dangerous heat wave will continue from California to the Pacific Northwest early this week. Triple-digit heat combined with dry humidity will only exacerbate the ongoing wildfire situation in California,” it said on Twitter. “Winds in the area of the fires will be locally gusty, with gusts up to 25 mph. The fires are likely to generate their own winds, which could be stronger at times,” she said. “Elsewhere across Central and Southern California the story remains similar. Temperatures will remain 5-10 degrees above average for the region, and dry/drought conditions will continue with little to no rain expected throughout the week.”

Braden Varney, 36, Fire bulldozer operator, Bulldozer tumbled down hillside during building of defensive line in Ferguson fire.

Brian Hughes, 33, captain of Arrowhead Interagency Hotshots; Fallen tree during tactical firing operation on Ferguson fire.

Melody Bledsoe, Emily Roberts, James Roberts; Bledsoe and her two great-grandchildren were killed when fire swept into their homes in Redding. This story is heartbreaking, The Grandfather went out to get supplies in case they had to evacuate. Came back to the home that was burning out of control. The grandmother had wet a blanket and threw it on the kids as she laid on top of it.

Jeremy Stoke, Redding fire inspector; Killed during Carr fire.

Unidentified civilian; Killed during Carr fire.

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