Early summer in California was pretty quiet. The San Francisco Chronicle was doing Comment July 20: Since the start of the year, fires have destroyed only 14,000 hectares, less than 20% of the area devastated by the same period in 2021 and 10% of the five-year average. Experts quoted by the newspaper wondered if the state was going to revert to a status quo “Normal”A far cry from the megafires of recent years fueled by drought and climate change.
Holy will. The ink was barely dry on the article ChronicleThe “Oak Fire” broke out on July 22, in the Mariposa region, at the entrance to the Sierra Nevada, and its term ended. “Relatively small and non-destructive fire” According to climatologist Daniel Swain, California is experiencing. The rapid spread of the fire in the interface zone between forest and homes in the Midpines, 35 km from Yosemite National Park, caught firefighters by surprise.
state of emergency
In the first few hours, smoke was seen from space, blanketing an area the size of Manhattan. In three days, the fire quadrupled in size from 1,600 hectares on the evening of Sunday 24 July to 6,000 hectares. Firefighters described the fire with behavior “unprecedented”, sending sparks 1 mile (1.6 km) away. About 3,800 residents had to leave their homes. California Governor Gavin Newsom immediately declared a state of emergency, which allowed him to request federal resources. “From the beginning we gave it everything we had” Local fire company Cal Fire Officer Mike Van Lobel Sells said Los Angeles Times.
As of Monday, July 25, Cal Fire was able to report “foot” In the fight against the progress of the fire – it progressed only 485 hectares. The result of an intensive effort: 3,000 firefighters were mobilized, as well as twenty-four helicopters that poured one million liters of water on the flames in twenty-four hours. Pilots, after all, made night flights for the first time thanks to one of twelve new firehawks installed in California. The Golden State learned the lesson of the 2020 and 2021 seasons that saw record devastation in the Napa Valley and Sierra foothills: 417,898 hectares in 2020, compared to twenty years ago, when the disaster areas averaged no more than 174,000 hectares. Thanks to a historic budget surplus, the California Legislature passed a $2 billion firefighting budget by the end of 2021 that would replace Huey helicopters from the Vietnam War.
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