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originally posted by: marg6043
a reply to: Logarock
Yes, also how the state government can improve or at least control the amount of fires in the state, one thing is fires that are cause by the natural interaction of lightning and human interaction.
Q. So just how bad are the fires?
A. Around 700,000 acres have burned this year in California, compared with about 500,000 in a typical year, and the fire season is nowhere near over. Right now, 15,000 people are deployed fighting wildfires across the state. But what has officials on edge is less the total acreage than how readily new fires start, and how quickly — and unpredictably — they grow. “We’ve had fires in California since the beginning of time,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the governor’s Office of Emergency Services, “but what we’re seeing now that’s different is the extreme rapid spread of the fires, and the extreme volatility.”
Q. Why is it this bad?
A. Two words: Drought and heat. Vegetation in California, from the mesquite scrub in the desert to the tall pines in the Sierra Nevada, is as dry as kindling after a yearslong drought, the worst in the state’s recorded history. So fire catches more easily, spreads faster, and carries farther on the wind. The state’s major reservoirs hold less than half as much water as they typically would at this time of year, many wells have run dry, and underground aquifers are so depleted that in some places, the ground has been sinking as much as two inches per month.
Q. With such a severe drought, do firefighters have enough water to do their work?
A. Yes, but it requires some creativity. Ordinarily, pumper trucks and helicopters with water buckets can tap into the streams, lakes and reservoirs closest to the flames. But in many places, those sources are now too low to rely on. Firefighters are making more use of tanker trucks and big, portable plastic water basins to do what is known as “water shuttling” — moving water close to the fires. And helicopter pilots are often having to travel farther to find places to dip their buckets.
Q. How bad have the drought and heat been?
A. Last year was the hottest on record in California, and this has been a hot summer. But even the hottest weather would not have created the extreme fire danger the state is seeing if there had been enough rainfall. California is in the fourth year of a severe drought. One important indicator of just how severe it is came this spring, when state scientists measured the Sierra snowpack at 5 percent of normal — that is not a misprint — the lowest ever recorded.
Q. But haven’t people been conserving a lot of water?
A. Yes, and that spells something of a reprieve for the people and farms that use water, but it doesn’t water all those millions of acres of wild land. Only nature does that.
the half-million Okies met new hardships in California, where they were unwelcome aliens, forced to live in squatter camps and to compete for scarce jobs as agricultural migrant laborers. They displaced Mexican workers, but despite the initial fears of landowners that they would demand better working conditions, these conservative, self-reliant, and persevering folk proved even easier to exploit. With many more willing hands than jobs, wage rates dropped. Crowded, filthy squatter camps rose up along the roads and streams of the San Joaquin Valley, leading Californians to attribute the scene to the refugees' own regionally derived ignorance and sloth. Federal relief in the form of labor camps (such as Steinbeck's "Wheat Patch"), dubbed "Little Oklahomas," were hardly effective.
Sierra Nevada fires normally sputter when they hit expanses of granite rock. But drought and a number of other factors have made the Rough Fire — burning along the Kings River northeast of Kings County, messing up local air quality and derailing mountain vacation plans — do things Sierra fires typically don’t do.
Sierra National Forest Spokeswoman Iveth Hernandez said some people reported the rocks as being “on fire.”
Flames would come to the edge of a bare granite expanse, burn across via the super-dry moss and flare up anew in the woods on the other side.
“We’d never seen fire activity in that way,” Hernandez said. “This fire has gone far beyond what we ever expected it to do.”