Tag Archives: California wildfires

PG&E admits it may have sparked Kincade fire even with power shutdown to prevent fires

Man, California is a hot mess of a state.

From Daily Mail: Pacific Gas & Electric admitted its electrical equipment may have ignited a ruinous wildfire that spread across California’s wine country on Friday despite blackouts imposed across the region to prevent blazes.

The company said it didn’t de-energize a 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville that malfunctioned and finding a “broken jumper” wire on a transmission tower around 9.20pm on Wednesday.

Seven minutes later, the so-called Kincade Fire erupted in Sonoma County, near the town of Geyserville, forcing about 2,000 evacuations, burning 49 structures and leaving huge swathes of the state without power.

It was whipped up by the strong winds that had prompted PG&E to impose sweeping blackouts affecting a half-million people in Northern and Central California.

Just five percent of the fire is contained after 21,900 acres were burned, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), the state’s firefighting agency.

PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said it was too soon to know if the faulty equipment started the fire. He said the tower had been inspected four times in the past two years and appeared to have been in ‘excellent condition.’

PG&E CEO Bill Johnson

The disclosure came as firefighters simultaneously battled flames in Sonoma County’s vineyards, and a wind-whipped blaze that destroyed homes near Los Angeles.

Currently, there are seven active wildfires are raging across California that have burned nearly 35,000 acres.

In Northern California, the active fires are the Cabrillo Fire, Kincade Fire, Muir Fire and Nelson Fire. Meanwhile, the Mines Fire, Saddle Ridge Fire and Tick Fire are blazing in Southern California. Punishing Santa Ana winds pushed the Tick Fire into Los Angeles-area neighborhoods, burning at least six homes and putting as many as 50,000 people under evacuation orders.

In just a few hours, the blaze, one of four in the area, went from scorching a few hundred acres to more than 4,000, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Only five percent of it was contained as of Friday morning.

The threat of hot, dry, winds driving flames far and wide was met with fleets of aircraft and more than 500 firefighters on the ground, who tried to protect homes where backyards were surrounded by trees and brush.

‘We know of at least six [homes that have burned] but that number may rise,’ Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger in a news conference on Thursday night. ‘We cannot let our guard down. We’re going to fight this aggressively.’

About 10,000 structures are threatened, but it is unknown how many have been damaged or destroyed, reported CNN. No injuries were reported but fire officials say a firefighting helicopter was struck by a bird and its windshield damage, forcing it out of the fight until Friday.

Alejandro Corrales tearfully watched her home burn on a ridge in Canyon Country, taking with it her mother’s ashes, other belongings and possibly a pen full of pet sheep. Luckily, her daughter managed to take some small pets and all three of her children were safe. You start thinking about all the things you can’t get back,’ Corrales told KCBS-TV.

‘Everything in the house is gone, the panels on one of the pens where we have some rescued sheep was too hot for my daughter to open and so she couldn’t let them out … so I’m probably sure that we lost them, too.’

The Santa Ana winds, with gusts of 45mph to 60mph, are expected to continue through the weekend and into early next week.

Southern California Edison, which cut power to more than 31,000 customers on Thursday, was considering additional power cuts to more than 386,000 customers. The shutdowns were designed to prevent fierce winds from hurling branches into power lines or toppling them, sparking wildfires.

Read the whole story here.

DCG

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California wants to get rid of Ham radio communication; endangers lives

More bad, anti-freedom moves by the single-party government of the State of California.

Ham radio is a time-tested, low-cost, reliable means of communication when emergencies strike. As in other states, Ham radio operators have been assisting California’s fire and emergency services for free for years. In fact, Ham radio is the only source of communication when the power is out and the cell-phone towers are down. The equipment costs the state nothing, as it is operated by the Ham radio owners. Simply put, there is no benefit or justifiable reason to eliminate Ham radio commuication.

But the California State government, although supposedly concerned about deadly wildfires, is now determined to eliminate Ham radio communication.

Megan Fox reports for PJ Media, Oct. 15, 2019, that in spite of PG&E recent massive power shut-down that plunged a wide swath of northern California into darkness, the state’s Fire District has decided that Ham radio equipment in remote areas must be removed unless radio operators cough up a prohibitive fee to lease the land from the government.

In an email to Ham operators, Lorina Pisi of the Department of General Services of California’s Public Works Board, wrote:

I do understand and appreciate all of the service you have provided in the past. However, with constantly changing technological advances, there is no longer the same benefit to State as previously provided. Therefore, the Department no longer financially supports HAM operators radios or tenancy. If you desire to enter into a formal agreement to operate and maintain said equipment, you must complete and submit attached collocation application along with fee as outlined on page one of application. There is cost associated with getting an agreement in place. In addition to the technical analysis fee ($2500/application), there is DGS Lease admin cost associated (typically between $3000-$5000) with preparation of lease. Also, there will be an annual rent charge based upon equipment type/space.

OffGrid Survival observes:

What is infuriating here is people are going to die because of this decision. It costs the State of California nothing to allow these repeaters on public land; in fact, Ham Radio Operators pay for the equipment and maintain the equipment at their own cost. Ham Radio operators also make nothing from running these radio repeaters; they do so as a service to the public to help ensure the public’s safety during natural disasters and emergencies.

In a letter to Lorina Pisi, with cc to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Brian Dahle, Shasta County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services, Shingletown Volunteer Fire Department, and others, attorney A. Nathan Zeliff writes:

Dear Ms. Pisi:

I am writing you concerning your e-mail to Ham Radio Repeater owners advising them that they must remove all repeater equipment from various mountain locations unless they pay huge fees…. I am advised that this action is being done for the entire State of California. Many of these repeaters have been in public safety use for decades. They have saved lives. They have in fact been used for public safety and to protect life and property when the public communication systems have completely collapsed and failed during disasters.

The cost to the State of California is nothing for these repeaters. Rather, Ham Radio Operators pay for the equipment and maintain the equipment at their own cost. The Ham Radio Operators do not make any money off of these repeaters.

Your actions will destroy the existing Ham Radio Repeater System Infrastructure and Network that is a critical and vital asset for Disaster Emergency Communications. This Ham Radio Emergency Communications Infrastructure has existed for decades. Additionally, once removed, these Ham Radio assets will be cost prohibitive to rebuild….

The FACT IS – when there is a complete communication failure (no phones, no cell phones, no internet, no reverse 911, no code red, no ability to dial 911, and no ability to warn people who are asleep at 2:00 AM in the morning of a raging wildfire, etc…,) ALL of the Cal Fire and Sheriff recommendations go up in smoke. WHY? Because there is no WAY to send or receive any information OR even issue warnings! Communities will have no communications. They will not be able to advise neighbors that the exit to a subdivision is blocked by a fallen tree. They will not be able to ask others to bring chain saws and trucks to open up the exit. There will be no actual ability to coordinate or communicate. You can’t effectively warn your neighbors about a fire at 2:00 A.M., without communications!

In the real world scenario of a communications blackout and raging fire, all of those “technological advances” you advised of in your e-mail will HAVE ALL FAILED AND DO NOT WORK! Your claim that Ham Radio is no longer a “benefit” to the State, is delusional….

The Governor of California issued Executive Order N-05-19, dated January 8, 2019, recognizing California as having experienced the most destructive wildfire season in State history during 2018, enduring over 7,600 wildfires that burned 1,846,445 acres in total. The Executive Order referenced the Camp Fire as being the deadliest fire in State history claiming the lives of 86 people….

Under this Executive Order, Cal Fire was charged with providing a written report to the Governor with recommendations… “necessary to prevent and mitigate wildfires to the greatest extent possible”….

Cal Fire responds by instituting a destructive project to remove Critical Emergency Ham Radio Communications Infrastructure. Such is in flagrant disregard of the Executive Order and devoid of any notion of common sense. Moreover, making an emergency resource cost prohibitive is in fact destruction of that resource! Additionally, once removed, these Ham Radio assets will be cost prohibitive to rebuild….

Compounding the situation is that PG & E may shut off communities electricity during Red Flag and other events. This poses additional risks. Communication Blackouts may result….

So why would the California State government do something so irrational as eliminating Ham radio communication?

OffGrid Survival believes this is the reason:

The real story here is Ham Radio is a threat to the government. We make them look stupid! They spend billions on infrastructure that breaks down, while we can literally take a hundred bucks in equipment, some random wires, and in minutes set up a radio system that can communicate with anyone in the world. Hell, I’ve used my kid’s slinky, some Television Coax Cable, and a solar battery system to build a mobile rig that I’ve used to talk to people around the world —  You can check out the Radio Rig Here. They don’t want the public to realize that we can take care of ourselves, and do a much better and cheaper job doing so!

H/t CSM

~Eowyn

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California man who relied on oxygen pump died 12 minutes after PG&E cut power to prevent fires

From Daily Mail: A Northern California man dependent on oxygen died just 12 minutes after Pacific Gas and Electric shut down power to the area as part of an effort to prevent fires.

El Dorado County Fire Chief Lloyd Ogan said on Friday that a call was placed to the fire department from Pollock Pines after 3.30am on Wednesday. Crews arrived at the scene and found Robert Mardis Sr., 67, unresponsive and were unable to revive him, according to the Mountain Democrat.

Ogan said the man’s oxygen equipment required power, but could not say whether the shutdown was related to his death.

Mardis Sr.’s daughter, Marie Aldea, told FOX 40 that her father had several health issues and she believes the power cuts were involved in his death.

She said: ‘He had health issues. He had really bad COPD, which didn’t help, and he had congestive heart failure and other health issues, but the power going off and him not being able to get to his oxygen is, I believe, is what did it.’

Mardis Sr.’s oxygen tank reportedly lost power during PG&E’s power shutdown and he was unable to reach his battery-operated oxygen tank in time.

‘He’ll never see my kids get married, he’ll never see his grandchildren,’ Aldea said. ‘How do you fix that? You don’t. You can’t. Something got taken away from me that I can never get back, and I will miss my father forever.’

PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said it has not been able to confirm the accuracy of the report.The power company told Fox 40: ‘We have no information on incident and have not been able to confirm the accuracy of the report. We refer you to local officials in El Dorado County.’

Governor Gavin Newson spoke out on Friday about the tragic death. ‘Losing a family member is horrific and to the extent this was the reason why, I hope that is investigated and I hope those responsible are held to account,’ he said.

The news of his death comes on the heels of the deaths of two others from the wildfires on Thursday: a man in his 50s who suffered cardiac arrest and Lois Arvickson, 89, after a fire swept through her mobile home park. It’s unclear whether the unnamed victim was pronounced dead at his home or in another location.

Winds gusted dangerously as forecast before calming in Northern California, where PG&E faced hostility and second-guessing over its widespread shutoffs.

Governor Gavin Newsom criticized PG&E and ordinary customers complained about the inconveniences caused by the unprecedented blackouts that began midweek.

PG&E, though, suggested it was already seeing the wisdom of its decision borne out as gusts topping 77mph raked the San Francisco Bay Area amid a bout of dry, windy weather.

‘We have found multiple cases of damage or hazards’ caused by heavy winds, including fallen branches that came in contact with overhead lines,’ said Sumeet Singh, a vice president for the utility company. ‘If they were energized, they could’ve ignited.’

Because of the dangerous weather in the forecast, PG&E cut power on Wednesday to an estimated two million people in an area. PG&E said on Friday that it has restored electricity to about 543,000 businesses and residences.

Another 195,000 customers had remained without power. Experts say a customer includes between two and three people. Areas without power includes Plumas, Yuba and Butte counties, where people are on their third day without electricity.

Butte County is where a fire started by PG&E equipment last year decimated the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

The utility says power also remain out in of Kern County in the southern part of the state’s agricultural Central Valley, where strong winds prompted PG&E to cut power on Thursday.

The utility it was able to restore power after winds subsided and workers could inspect its power lines.

——————–

The coroner has determined that PG&E wasn’t at fault for this man’s death. That was quick…

DCG

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California approves PG&E rate hike to pay for costs related to wildfires

I’d be pretty ticked off if I was a PG&E customer because it doesn’t appear that the California Public Utilities Commission was working in favor of the publics’ best interest.

As reported by SF Gate: California regulators have approved a $373 million rate hike for Pacific Gas & Electric to pay costs related to a series of wildfires.

KTVU-TV says the California Public Utilities Commission Thursday unanimously OK’d an increase that raises the average bill by $3.50 a month over 12 months.

The station says the money is supposed to be used to pay PG&E’s costs for nine fire, wind and rain events in 2016 and 2017, including repairs and clearing brush and trees from under power lines to prevent future fires.

The hike won’t cover the billions it will cost PG&E in connection with 2018’s devastating wildfires.

The utility, which has filed for bankruptcy, is also seeking about $22 a month in rate increases for wildfire safety and to attract investors.

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PG&E to pay Calaveras County $25.4 million for 2015 Butte Fire

The state’s two biggest utilities might be the possible cause for other recent deadly wildfires, even though liberals say the cause is climate change. Mother Nature can’t write a big, fat check so follow the money…

From Sacramento Bee: Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has agreed to pay Calaveras County $25.4 million for economic damages stemming from the 2015 Butte Fire.

A Cal Fire investigation concluded the fire began in September 2015 after a PG&E power line touched brush and sparked flames that killed two people, destroyed 1,000 structures and burned 71,000 acres, mostly in Calaveras County. The county sued the utility earlier this year after months of unsuccessful negotiations, according to county spokesman Timothy Lutz.

The mediated settlement reflects the cost of rebuilding and restoring its roads, watershed and bridges, as well as economic loss from decreased property tax revenue, Lutz said.

The amount was smaller than the county had hoped.

“I would be lying if I said we weren’t disappointed” by the settlement amount, Lutz said.

The besieged utility, which has been blamed by state investigators for wildfires in wine country last October, warned in June that damage claims would likely exceed $2.5 billion from those blazes.

Lutz said the county Board of Supervisors decided accepting the settlement would be in the best interests of the county, rather than pursue litigation.

Thousands of individual claims have been filed by Butte Fire victims against PG&E, and a separate lawsuit by Cal Fire seeking $87 million in compensation for costs related to fighting the Butte Fire is ongoing.

PG&E is expected to begin payments to the county by the middle of December, Lutz said. PG&E did not respond to requests for comment.

DCG

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Bad news for global warmists: Trees and forests increased 865,000 sq. mi. instead of decreased

In 2015 in its alarming report, Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations dolefully claimed that global tree canopy (or forests) had decreased by a catastrophic 129 million hectares in just 25 years:

In 1990 the world had 4,128 million [hectares] of forest; by 2015 this area had decreased to 3,999 million ha. This is a change from 31.6 percent of global land area in 1990 to 30.6 percent in 2015.

But according to a new study published in Nature, satellite data show that in the 34 years from 1982 to 2016, global tree canopy cover actually increased by 865,000 square miles.

According to the square mile to hectare conversion formula, 1 square mile = 258.998811 hectares. An increase in global tree canopy of 865,000 sq. miles, therefore, is the equivalent of an increase of 224.034 million hectares — in contrast to the UN report’s decrease of 129 million hectares.

The abstract of “Global land change from 1982 to 2016,” by Xiao-Peng Song, et al., in Nature, 560 (2018), pp. 639-643, says:

Here we analyse 35 years’ worth of satellite data and provide a comprehensive record of global land-change dynamics during the period 1982–2016. We show that—contrary to the prevailing view that forest area has declined globally5—tree cover has increased by 2.24 million km2 (+7.1% relative to the 1982 level). This overall net gain is the result of a net loss in the tropics being outweighed by a net gain in the extratropics. Global bare ground cover has decreased by 1.16 million km2 (−3.1%), most notably in agricultural regions in Asia.

The greatest increase in tree canopy or forests occurred in Europe, including European Russia, where it exploded by 35%. China is a close second, where tree canopy gained 34%. In the U.S., tree canopy increased by 15%.

In fact, the increase in forests in the United States and bad management are fueling the terrible scourge of California wildfires.

Umair Irfan reports for Vox on Sept. 4, 2018, that California has 129 million dead trees, spread across 8.9 million acres, which are kindling for wildfires:

The bumper crop of kindling helps explain why this has been the worst year on record for California wildfires. Already, more than 876,000 acres have burned in California, compared to 228,000 last year at the same time. The Mendocino Complex Fire, now almost fully contained at more than 459,000 acres, is the single largest fire on record in state history. The largest fire before that, the Thomas Fire, was just put out in January this year.

Worse still, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesperson Heather Williams said the recent fires have barely made a dent in the glut of dead trees,  and peak fire season in Southern California is still to come later this year.

See also “CA Wildfires Could Increase 77% By 2100“.

~Eowyn

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