Burning California this season is the biggest and most intense wildfire ever, but for a short time last week, the fire brigade thought the lava fire had struck.
They couldn’t have been wrong.
About a week before the fire became so big that a cloud of ominous smoke higher than the mountains appeared. Shasta caused widespread evacuation, leading to deadly shootings. The fire brigade left the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, believing that it had completely contained a flame of only 1/4 acre.
The case is under investigation, but early assessments provide the latest example of how drought and record fever are colluding to increase the danger, severity, and unpredictability of this fire season. It suggests that it is not too much.
In this case, the battle was further complicated by the formation of rugged volcanoes and the collision of nearby marijuana cultivation operations.
Adrian Freeman, a spokeswoman for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Northern California, said:
There were 83 lightning strikes on the evening of June 24, and the fire broke out under the same weather conditions that caused the catastrophic lightning strike last year.
The strike caused at least four fires, all of which were reduced to less than one-tenth acre, less than one acre.
A lava fire was detected at around 8:35 pm, and emergency responders received reports of smoke in remote areas of ancient lava flows about 3.5 miles northeast of the weeds.
According to Freeman, authorities weren’t sure who the fire was in the direct protected area, so battalions from the US Forestry Department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection appeared.
It was midnight before the crew could access the fire and start working. According to Freeman, they eventually determined that the area was under federal jurisdiction and that the Calfire battalion had left.
She said the firefighters worked early in the morning and all day June 25, placing containment lines around the flames.
However, flames rooted in old lava flows are notorious for being difficult to extinguish. “In essence, it is layered on top of a layer of broken rock, with stands of trees, grass and shrubs incorporated into it,” Freeman said.
A helicopter that dropped 7,920 gallons of water on fire on Friday attempted to invade a lava tube that saturates the corners and crevices of porous volcanic rocks, forming a network of underground caves that can contain heat and flames. She said.
By about 4 pm on June 25, fire officials believed the fire had been extinguished, according to Freeman.
“They take off their gloves and try to detect the heat with their hands,” she said. “And they also look for visible smoke.”
She said the crew waited for something to appear and left at around 6:30 pm.
About an hour later, she said authorities received reports of brilliance nearby. They initially thought it was a new fire — it was certain that the previous fire had gone out.
However, the Forest Office crew discovered that the fire had been prolonged and began working on the fire all night, Freeman said.
But when the wind began to intensify, things became even more dire.
“It’s something about the mountains. Shasta, it’s very unpredictable,” Freeman said. “The wind is very volatile. The mountains actually make their own weather.”
By June 26, the next morning, the fire had spread to about two acres and 50% had been contained. A flood of firefighters from multiple agencies. California Air National Guard and Nevada Air National Guard sent C-130 aerial fire extinguishers, marking the activation of military fire extinguishing aircraft in June since 2012.
Despite their best efforts, the fire grew exponentially throughout the day as the wind pushed it uphill and the temperature rose. According to the nearby National Weather Service, the city of Shasta broke daily records on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, with a maximum of 103 degrees Celsius on Sunday, the hottest temperature in the city’s history in June.
Residents were horrified to watch the flames swell to 10 acres, then 80 acres, then 220 acres. Containment has dropped to 25%. Evacuation warnings have been issued in some areas. By Monday evening, they had been ordered to evacuate. The fire jumped over Highway 97.
Tensions boiled in violence as law enforcement officers helped evacuate the mountains. The Shasta Vista district is home to a large complex of cannabis farms run primarily by the Hmong. Some are fighting Shasta County over water restrictions.
According to the Siskew County Sheriff’s Office, at around 8:30 pm, a man tried to drive an obstacle and pointed his pistol at a police officer. According to officials, a sheriff’s agent, a police officer at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Etna Police Station, shot him dead.
A Hmong man died in front of his wife and three children, according to a statement by Eric Alan Berg, a lawyer who represented some of the inhabitants of the parcel on legal issues.
To curb illegal growth, the county passed an ordinance in May banning trucks carrying more than 100 gallons of water on certain roads. Some residents have accused the ordinance of being a racist because the roads are primarily in the Hmong area.
Even when the fire approached the plot, the water truck was still blocked from entering, Berg said, and an investigator at his law firm said, “People use shovels and even bare hands to soil. I’m trying to fight the fire. “
As of Tuesday afternoon, firefighters were refraining from actively fighting fires there, Mr Berg said, calling the incident a “humanitarian crisis.”
A spokesman for the fire-handling incident management team refuted it.
“For safety reasons, the crew had to leave the area during a shooting involving police officers, but as soon as the area was considered safe again, they were in the area. I went back and engaged in fire extinguishing activities, “said spokeswoman Michelle Carbonaro. Officer of California Incident Management Team 14. “It was a very short period of time.”
By Tuesday morning, the fire covered 13,330 acres, 19% was contained, and chewing with a dry brush produced a huge pillar of smoke.
“When a plume-dominated fire blows on it, it’s when you get that really important fire spread,” Freeman said.
Brian Newwenhaus, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, said a violent fire could heat the atmosphere so much that smoke eruptions could rise and create flood clouds.
“If we can get the right atmospheric conditions at the same time, it basically creates a unique kind of circulation,” he said. “I’ve heard before that it’s called a large heat pump because it absorbs all the heat and releases it into the atmosphere.”
At some point on Tuesday, the flood cumulus clouds created by the lava fire grew to 38,000 feet. This is more than twice the height of the mountain. According to the Meteorological Bureau, the shasta itself.
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said such clouds could provide self-reinforcing feedback, with the size and intensity of the fire creating a meteorological system, making the fire bigger and more. It says it will be fierce.
“These are the conditions under which the fire can be somewhat self-sustaining,” he said. “They create stronger winds near them.”
Predictable conditions are the key to guiding firefighters’ decisions. According to Freeman, in a typical river basin, when the temperature rises in the afternoon, the wind goes uphill, and when things cool, it goes downhill.
In contrast, she said. Shasta. “
By Saturday, the fire had been contained at 24,460 acres, 36%, as the crew was helped by milder winds and cooler temperatures, according to Carbonaro. The evacuation order was downgraded to a warning. No fire deaths have been reported. A county-led team was working to carry out an official assessment of structural damage.
According to Freeman, the areas where the fires broke have a fairly frequent history of fires, but firefighters were generally able to keep them fairly small.
When they get so busy fighting the fire, the authorities go back and try to determine why this time was different.
According to Freeman, one possibility was that the fire was carried through the root system of plants growing on lava rocks.
“The root system is unusually dry, and it’s unusual to see this fuel condition during this time,” she said. “If they are dry enough, they will carry undetectable fire or heat from the surface.”
This could mean that most years were good enough to contain the fire, but couldn’t stand the extremes of the season.
UCLA’s Swain calls this discrepancy between long-standing expectations and a situation that is increasingly producing fire behavior that no one considers likely to shift baseline syndrome.
He said there were various reasons for this, but most importantly, the fact that climate change caused more severe fires that grew faster than before.
“The June fire behaves like the August and September fires,” Swain said. “And we see the August and September fires acting in ways that have never been seen in history, except in the most dire situations.”
This story was originally Los Angeles Times..