California Battles Wildfires amid Record-Breaking Heat Wave
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
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The fires broke out “amid a record-breaking heatwave, gusty winds and intense thunderstorms that fire officials have blamed for igniting at least some of them via lightning strikes,” the newspaper said.
On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the more than 30 fires raging as of Tuesday afternoon.
“We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions,” Newsom said.
“The declaration gives California access to mutual aid from out of state and allows faster requests for federal funds,” the Sacramento Bee explained.
Thousands Ordered to Evacuate Broad Areas of Northern California
Thousands of people are under orders to evacuate broad areas of Northern California “as some 30 wildfires blazed across the state amid a blistering heat wave now in its second week,” KTUV Fox Channel 2 in Oakland reported.
“Throughout the state of California right now, we are stretched thin for crews,” Will Powers, a state fire spokesman, told KTUV. “Air resources have been stretched thin throughout the whole state.”
The fires in Northern California are centered in Napa and Sonoma counties, home of the nation’s largest wine producers and, as such, a major tourist destination.
Sonoma County Department of Emergency Management urged residents to leave the area immediately at about 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday, with first responders going door to door to assist, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
Air Quality Managers in Sacramento Area Issued Alerts for Poor Conditions
On Tuesday, amid rolling power blackouts, “air quality managers in the Sacramento area began issuing alerts for poor conditions triggered by fires,” the Sacramento Bee reported.
Wildfire smoke triggered a Spare the Air day alert, the region’s second of 2020 and first this summer.
“Onshore winds were expected to strengthen Wednesday afternoon, increasing pollutant dispersion, the Spare the Air website warned. “However, smoke from several regional fires will continue to impact the region. Additionally, sunny and hot conditions will continue to support ozone formation, causing ozone levels to be Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.”
The epic heatwave that’s produced rolling power blackouts in California comes at a high price.
“Wholesale power prices have occasionally shot up past $1,000 per megawatt-hour — mirroring prices from the devastating 2001 energy crisis — as the California Independent System Operator has frantically worked to keep the juice flowing to the grid,” the Bee's Dale Kasler said.