Tag Archives: Fire Danger

PG&E Ordered To Inspect All Territory For Trees, Equipment That Could Cause Wildfires

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday tentatively ordered PG&E to inspect its entire electrical service area and remove or trim any trees and repair any damaged transmission equipment that could cause wildfires.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup will hold a Jan. 30 hearing to decide whether to go ahead with the order.

He invited representatives of Cal Fire and the California Public Utilities Commission to attend the hearing, in addition to PG&E and federal prosecutors.

Alsup is overseeing the utility’s probation in a criminal case in which the utility was convicted of violating federal pipeline safety rules and obstructing justice in a probe of a fatal natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno in 2010.

Alsup wrote that the purpose of his proposed order is “to protect the public from further wrongs by the offender” and to “reduce to zero the number of wildfires caused by PG&E in the 2019 wildfire season.”

The season runs from June 21 to the first region-wide rainstorm in November or December.

The judge noted that Cal Fire has determined that San Francisco-based PG&E caused 18 wildfires in its northern and central California service areas in 2017. The agency is still investigating the cause of the devastating 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County that killed 86 people.

The proposed order would allow PG&E to supply electricity during the wildlife season only in areas determined to be safe under the wind conditions then prevailing. Power would be shut off in areas not determined to be safe under such winds.

Alsup wrote, “This will likely mean having to interrupt service during high-wind events (and possibly at other times) but that inconvenience, irritating as it will be, will pale by comparison to the death and destruction that otherwise might result from PG&E-inflicted wildfire.”

PG&E spokesman James Noonan said, “We are aware of Judge Alsup’s orders and are currently reviewing.

The statement continued: “We are committed to complying with all rules and regulations that apply to our work, while working together with our state and community partners and across all sectors and disciplines to develop comprehensive, long-term safety solutions for the future.”

Cal Fire Chief Recommends Banning Home Construction In Vulnerable Areas

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP/CBS) — California’s increasingly deadly and destructive wildfires have become so unpredictable that government officials should consider banning home construction in vulnerable areas, the state’s top firefighter says.

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott will leave his job Friday after 30 years with the agency. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said government and citizens must act differently to protect lives and property from fires that now routinely threaten large populations.

That may mean rethinking subdivisions in thickly forested mountainous areas or homes along Southern California canyons lined with tinder-dry chaparral. For example, Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday were considering whether to allow a 19,000-home development in fire-prone mountains amid heavy criticism of the location’s high fire danger.

California residents should also train themselves to respond more quickly to warnings and make preparations to shelter in place if they can’t outrun the flames, Pimlott said.

Communities in fire zones need to harden key buildings with fireproof construction similar to the way cities prepare for earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, and should prepare commercial or public buildings to withstand fires with the expectation hundreds may shelter there as they did in makeshift fashion when flames last month largely destroyed the Sierra Nevada foothills city of Paradise in Northern California.

California already has the nation’s most robust building requirement programs for new homes in fire-prone areas, but recent fire seasons underscore more is needed. Officials must consider prohibiting construction in particularly vulnerable areas, said Pimlott, who has led the agency through the last eight years under termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown.

He said it’s uncertain if those decisions should be made by local land managers or at the state level as legislative leaders have suggested. But Pimlott said “we owe it” to homeowners, firefighters and communities “so that they don’t have to keep going through what we’re going through.”

“We’ve got to continue to raise the bar on what we’re doing and local land-use planning decisions have to be part of that discussion,” he said.

California’s population has doubled since 1970 to nearly 40 million, pushing urban sprawl into mountain subdivisions, areas home to fast-burning grasslands and along scenic canyons and ridgetops that are susceptible to fires. After a crippling drought, the last two years have seen the worst fires in state history. November’s fire in the northern California town of Paradise was the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century, killing at least 85 people and destroying nearly 14,000 homes.

A year earlier, a fire that ripped through the San Francisco Bay Area city of Santa Rosa killed 22 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes and other structures.

Every year since at least 2013, firefighters did not anticipate California’s wildfires could get worse, Pimlott said. But each year the fires have increased in intensity — driven by dry fuels, an estimated 129 million drought- and bark beetle-killed trees, and climate change.

In response, the state is doing more planned burning to eliminate brush and dead trees that serve as fuels for wildfires. The state will also add seven large firefighting aircraft, replace a dozen aging helicopters, provide firefighter counseling and ensure that firefighters have enough time off for medical checkups to help them manage the mental and physical stress from a fire season that now never ends.

He said California leads the nation in clearing away dead trees and thinning forested areas that are crowded with trees that can fuel fires, contrary to criticism by President Donald Trump who has blamed forest mismanagement for the fires.

“No other state, or even the federal government, are putting the amount of investment into this space as California,” Pimlott said.

Pimlot had previously addressed the president’s comments in an interview with KPIX 5 back in October.

Pimlott was diplomatic in his response, but he clearly disagreed.


“Well, certainly when I heard them…they’re puzzling,” said Pimlott. “But just to be frank, they’re uninformed and couldn’t be further from the truth. There is so much going on in California.”

Pimlott also spoke to the claim that the state is not managing its forest land:

“A billion dollars over the next five years will be spent on direct engagement of projects on the ground,” explained Pimlott. “And looking at California, over half of the forest land in California is federal land. Our national forests. So when we’re talking about the landscape, it’s as much if not more of a federal responsibility as it is state or private.”

When asked if President Trump had ever spoken with him or anyone from Cal Fire, Pimlott confirmed that he had not.

“President Trump has not directly engaged our agency,” said Pimlott. “Vice President Pence made a personal visit to California on behalf of the administration and thanked Cal Fire and all of the responding agencies for the fall fire siege. I have not spoken with the President.”

The department’s philosophy for many years has been to stamp out fires quickly to protect people and property. Prescribed burns were previously used sparingly out of concern they could get out of control, but he said the department is making “a sea change” by recognizing that starting fires under optimum conditions is a good way to reduce dangerous fuels.

Recent fires that have burned into cities have made clear that those protections need to be centered around vulnerable communities, he said. Paradise, for example, was built on a ridge atop steep canyons that helped channel the wind-driven fire, while wildfires have repeated blown into Northern and Southern California subdivisions from neighboring wildlands thick with tinder-dry fuel.

Pimlott rose through the ranks from seasonal firefighter to deputy director of fire protection before his appointment as chief of the agency. In that role he doubles as the state’s chief forester and oversees a department that includes nearly 8,000 firefighters, forest managers and support staff.

He said he has seen fire conditions worsen each passing year during his three decades with the agency, taking its toll on residents and firefighters alike.

“Folks can say what they want to say, but firefighters are living climate change. It’s staring them in the face every day,” he said.

To adapt, he advocates wildfire warning systems that not only use new technology like automated phone calling systems, but maybe restoring civil defense-style emergency sirens in some areas. City planners must prepare communities “unlike we ever have before” with easy evacuation routes and new evacuation centers.

And he said Californians must treat “red flag” extreme fire danger warnings the way Midwesterners treat tornado warnings — as imminent threats.

“The reality of it is, California has a fire-prone climate and it will continue to burn,” he said. “Fire is a way of life in California and we have to learn how to live with it, we have to learn how to have more resilient communities.”

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Fire Danger Threat Will Expand For Tuesday

By Dave Aguilera

DENVER (CBS4) – Monday winds have been quite strong across western and southern Colorado. This has elevated the fire danger in those areas to start the week.

alerts fire nutu11 Fire Danger Threat Will Expand For Tuesday

Winds will be getting stronger and stronger over Colorado by Tuesday morning. With high pressure moving out and a cold front whipping in.

Winds across the entire state have the potential to blow as high as 50 to 55 mph during the day on Tuesday. Adding more real estate to the fire danger area.

extra1 Fire Danger Threat Will Expand For Tuesday

The wind producing cold front will expand the fire threat northward as close to Denver as Parker, Elizabeth and Bennett.

extra2 Fire Danger Threat Will Expand For Tuesday

Winds should weaken for Wednesday and Thursday.

 

Last Remnant Of Fort Carson Fire Out; No Word On Live Ammo

FOUNTAIN, Colo. (AP) — The last remnant of a wildfire that started on Fort Carson during a training exercise has been extinguished, but the Army still hasn’t said whether soldiers were using live ammunition during the exercise.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it was waiting on laboratory analysis of debris from tires that ignited during the wildfire to see if it needed to be taken to a hazardous waste dump.

wildfire evacuations Last Remnant Of Fort Carson Fire Out; No Word On Live Ammo

(credit: KKTV)

The fire started March 16 in dry, windy weather and spread from Fort Carson to private land. Three homes were destroyed.

The cause was under investigation.

The tires continued to burn after the main fire was out. They were extinguished Wednesday.

The EPA took command of that part of the fire because of the potential for hazardous smoke.

fire3 Last Remnant Of Fort Carson Fire Out; No Word On Live Ammo

(credit: KKTV)

Wildfire Resources

– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile), the deadliest (Storm King) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Extreme Drought Conditions Taking Over Southern Colorado

By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – A dry March has resulted in the expansion of drought across Colorado with 90% of the state now in some stage of drought.

Roughly 20% is classified as being in extreme (D3) drought.

Since last week the San Luis Valley was added to a growing area of extreme (D3) drought as well as more of Colorado’s western slope.

drought monitor new nutu3 Extreme Drought Conditions Taking Over Southern Colorado

grass fire Extreme Drought Conditions Taking Over Southern Colorado

A grass fire burns near Adams State University in Alamosa during early March. (credit: Adams State University)

The tender dry conditions have resulted in several grass fires over the past few weeks.

Nearly 3.5 million residents of Colorado live in an area currently experiencing drought.

Meteorologist Chris Spears travels weekly in the CBS4 Mobile Weather Lab reporting about Colorado’s weather and climate. Check out his bio, connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.

Wildfire Breaks Out Near Grand Junction, Fire Danger To Rise Friday

By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – A small wildfire broke out Thursday afternoon southeast of Grand Junction near the town of Whitewater.

The fire was burning at Kannah Creek and Lands End Roads.

At least 15 acres have burned according to a report from KREX-TV.

alerts fire nutu3 Wildfire Breaks Out Near Grand Junction, Fire Danger To Rise Friday

Fire weather conditions are expected to increase Friday as a storm sytem passes to the north of Colorado.

It will increase our wind speeds which is not good given the current dry and warm conditions. Several counties on the eastern plains have been placed under a fire weather alerts.

Drought continues to expand across Colorado with severe to extreme drought covering most of Colorado’s western slope.

drought monitor new nutu1 Wildfire Breaks Out Near Grand Junction, Fire Danger To Rise Friday

Meteorologist Chris Spears travels weekly in the CBS4 Mobile Weather Lab reporting about Colorado’s weather and climate. Check out his bio, connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.

Wildland Fire Burns 270+ Acres Near Homes At Fort Carson

FORT CARSON, Colo. (CBS4) – Fire crews are in the so-called “recovery” phrase of a fire that burned dangerously close to homes in El Paso County on Saturday.

Fort Carson officials say the fire broke out near the Navajo Village housing area. Personnel who live there and who are part of the Warrior Transition Battalion and the 10th Special Forces Complex were evacuated but returned home.

fort carson fire 5 guadi morin twitter copy Wildland Fire Burns 270+ Acres Near Homes At Fort Carson

(credit: Guadi Morin)

No structures were lost and no one was injured in the 270 acre fire at the Fort Carson Army Post close to Gate 5.

copter kiowa fire frame 179401 Wildland Fire Burns 270+ Acres Near Homes At Fort Carson

Fire burning on Fort Carson (credit: CBS)

Air operations using water buckets have closed Titus Boulevard from Gate 5 to Harr Street until 6 p.m. Monday.

fort carson fire 3 guadi morin twitter copy Wildland Fire Burns 270+ Acres Near Homes At Fort Carson

(credit: Guadi Morin)

About 400 people were affected by the evacuation with more than 100 taking temporary shelter at the Fort Carson Special Events Center.

copter kiowa fire frame 178119 Wildland Fire Burns 270+ Acres Near Homes At Fort Carson

(credit: CBS)

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

fort carson fire 2 guadi morin twitter copy Wildland Fire Burns 270+ Acres Near Homes At Fort Carson

(credit: Guadi Morin)

Wildfire Resources

– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile), the deadliest (Storm King) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

Dry, Windy Weather Produce Dangerous Conditions For Firefighters

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Firefighters across the southern and eastern parts of the state were faced with dry, windy and dangerous fire conditions on Saturday.

cospfire3 Dry, Windy Weather Produce Dangerous Conditions For Firefighters

Mulch fire in Colorado Springs (credit: Colorado Springs Fire Department)

Crews in Colorado Springs were battling flames at a wood recycling facility.

Several mulch piles were on fire and the winds weren’t helping the effort to put the fires out.

Some crews were tasked with making sure spot fire were put out and kept from growing bigger.

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Brush fire in Pueblo (credit: Code 4 Photography)

Other crews in Pueblo were able to get control of a grass fire along Highway 50 before the situation got out of hand.

Firefighters are making sure all the hot spots are out.

RELATED: Several Fire Departments Rush To ‘Large Grass Fire’

Fire Danger Elevated As Drought Expands Across Colorado

By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s hard to think about wildfire when the temperature is in the 30s.

But the reality is we have an elevated fire danger across a large part of Colorado right now, in particular, on the eastern plains where wind will be an issue over the next few days.

capture1 Fire Danger Elevated As Drought Expands Across Colorado

Drought has been expanding across Colorado in recent weeks due to a blocking ridge of high pressure over the west which is keeping major storm systems away.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of Nov. 30, a third of Colorado was reporting abnormally dry conditions with the western slope experiencing moderate drought conditions.

capture2 Fire Danger Elevated As Drought Expands Across Colorado

A new drought update is expected on Thursday, Dec. 7.

5day Fire Danger Elevated As Drought Expands Across Colorado

Meteorologist Chris Spears travels weekly in the CBS4 Mobile Weather Lab reporting about Colorado’s weather and climate. Check out his bio, connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.