Tag: Wildfires

How California’s ‘Demonized’ Winds Shape Wildfire Season

By Jill Cowan ImageFirefighters work to extinguish the Saddleridge Fire burning in the hills between Sylmar and Santa Clarita.CreditEtienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock Good morning. (Here’s the sign-up, if you don’t already get California Today delivered to your inbox.) Among meteorological phenomena, California’s autumn winds have distinctly bad reputations. The past couple of weeks haven’t done […]

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Turning Off the Lights in California

BERKELEY, Calif. — The New Normal is the phrase many use to describe the ways our world is evolving as the climate changes. As we have seen in recent years in the American West, and especially in California, it means dealing with more frequent and more devastating wildfires. Many of California’s worst fires, including last […]

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California Is Trying to Prevent Fires. No One Expected a Smoking Garbage Truck.

A utility shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers. Municipalities prohibited people from burning debris. Fire departments called in reinforcements amid dry and windy weather. But the fire precautions of officials and residents across California this week did nothing to prevent a deadly fire in Riverside County sparked by an unlikely culprit: a […]

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In a High-Tech State, Blackouts Are a Low-Tech Way to Prevent Fires

California has a reputation as a haven for technological innovation. But the state’s largest power utility is using the lowest of low-tech solutions — rolling blackouts — to protect dry landscapes from live power lines that could spark or overheat and set wildfires. The utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, turned off power to broad areas, […]

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Fire, Floods and Power Outages: Our Climate Future Has Arrived

SAN FRANCISCO — Now we suffer the consequences. In Northern California, power was cut to more than a million people this week. Near Houston, houses that flooded only two years ago just succumbed again. The South endured record-shattering fall heat waves. In Miami, salt water bubbled through street drains yet again as the rising ocean […]

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‘This Did Not Go Well’: Inside PG&E’s Blackout Control Room

SAN FRANCISCO — It was a problem that California had come to dread. Weather models were signaling extreme winds and dry conditions from one end of the state to the other. The risk of wildfires was high. Pacific Gas & Electric, the giant utility whose power lines and transformers have been blamed for a series […]

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The Haves and Have-Nots of (Electrical) Power in California

PARADISE, Calif. — The intentional blackout by California’s largest utility this week put Forest Jones out of work and his son out of school. On Friday morning Mr. Jones, a handyman and single father, sat in his apartment above a tattoo parlor waiting for the power to come back on and for school to reopen. […]

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Saddleridge Fire Rips Through Southern California, Forcing Evacuations

A fire tore through Southern California overnight on Friday, forcing mandatory evacuations of more than 12,000 homes and setting mobile homes ablaze, just as power was being restored to hundreds of thousands of Northern Californians. The Saddleridge fire was burning more than 4,000 acres in northwest Los Angeles as of Friday morning, according to the […]

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A Season of Fire Tests Indonesia’s Efforts to Curb Deforestation

Indonesia is experiencing another bad fire season, with forests and peatlands burning across much of the country. The fires have forced schools to close, caused respiratory problems for an estimated million people and infuriated neighboring governments. They have also cast doubt on the effectiveness of Indonesia’s recent efforts to reduce deforestation. #g-locator-box { max-width:1050px; } […]

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For the Most Vulnerable, California Blackouts ‘Can Be Life or Death’

MORAGA, Calif. — When Ben Faus went to bed at his home in the foothills above the Monterey Bay, he knew there was a chance his power would go out but he didn’t know exactly when. About 3 a.m. on Thursday he was jolted awake because his sleep apnea breathing machine stopped working. “All of […]

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How Long the PG&E Outage Will Last, and Other Questions Answered

Pacific Gas & Electric’s unusual decision to cut power to hundreds of thousands of customers in Northern California to reduce the risk of wildfires has angered many residents and lawmakers. Many of them have questioned whether the company made the right call. About 600,000 Northern California customers, including some in the San Francisco Bay Area, […]

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The Questions Surrounding California’s PG&E Outage

Pacific Gas & Electric’s unusual decision to cut power to hundreds of thousands of customers in Northern California to reduce the risk of wildfires has angered many residents and lawmakers. Many of them have questioned whether the company made the right call. About 600,000 Northern California customers, including some in the San Francisco Bay Area, […]

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PG&E Power Outage: Live Updates as Californians Confront Blackout

Here’s what you need to know: ImageA stop sign sat at an intersection in a darkened neighborhood in Marin City, Calif., after Pacific Gas and Electric cut power to many Northern California communities Wednesday.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times The second phase of the shutdown cut power to about 250,000 more customers. SAN FRANCISCO […]

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PG&E Power Outage Expands in California: Live Updates

Here’s what you need to know: ImagePacific Gas and Electric cut power to many Northern California communities ahead of winds matched with dry conditions in Sausalito on Wednesday.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times The second phase of the shutdown cut power to about 250,000 more customers. SAN FRANCISCO — About 800,000 electricity customers in […]

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Bracing for Fire Season in California

Oakland, Calif. — There’s an unsettling quality to the weather during fire season in California, a frantic fluctuation from drizzle to blue skies to the dry gusty winds that transform small fires into big ones. It’s been a mild year so far. But in the wake of last year’s particularly destructive season the entire state […]

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Lights Out Across Northern California as PG&E Warns of Wildfire Threat

SAN FRANCISCO — The lights went off in stages in Northern California on Wednesday, from the forests near the Oregon border, down the spine of the Sierra Nevada and finally through the dense hillside communities across the Bay from San Francisco. Hundreds of thousands of households lost power when California’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and […]

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California Power Outages: Fire Danger Prompts Utility to Cut Electricity

Large swaths of central and Northern California were expected to be without electricity on Wednesday as the state’s largest utility planned to cut power as a safety precaution. The utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, said that around 800,000 customers would be affected in stages, from the doorstep of Silicon Valley to the foothills of the […]

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Battle for PG&E Hinges on Rival Plans and Uncertain Costs

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s biggest utility is battling for its future. And it’s not a simple fight. Wildfire victims are joining forces with bondholders to contest its bankruptcy plan. Hedge funds are arrayed on both sides. Shareholders could come away winners or losers — and so could customers. The competing interests are colliding in a […]

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California Wildfire Victims Risk Being Left Out as Utility Manages Bankruptcy

SAN FRANCISCO — After a succession of devastating wildfires in the last four years, tens of thousands of Californians — many with broken spirits, many homeless — may now lose out on compensation from the company that was to blame. A deadline for victims to file claims is less than three weeks away. About 30,000 […]

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The Science Behind Why Wildfires Happen And How You Can Help Prevent Them

We all know that wildfires are a force to be reckoned with. They occur on every continent except for Antarctica and cause extreme and sometimes irreversible damage to natural resources and environments, costing countries billions of dollars every year. The United States alone experiences between 60,000 and 80,000 wildfires a year, with last year’s California […]

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