Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Monday cited climate change as a key factor in the fires blazing through much of the West, but Donald Trump on a visit to a California wildfire command center blamed “forest management” for not controlling the situation.
“This is another crisis, another crisis he won’t take responsibility for,” Biden said of Trump. “If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would we be surprised that we have more America ablaze?”
Firefighters struggled with high winds and low humidity in their furious battle for containment. Meteorologist Dan Borsum said strong southerly winds and low humidity Monday will result in elevated fire weather conditions across the region. He said conditions may improve a little bit Tuesday.
Borsum added the air quality in the region may not improve until October.
Twenty-five deaths have been reported in California, 10 deaths have been reported in Oregon and one in Washington state since a rash of fires began burning in drought conditions a month ago. Several people remain missing and an unknown number of homes have been destroyed.
‘Everything’s gone’: Fire, smoke devastate Oregon families, workers, homeless
What’s happening today:
- Trump to visit fire command center in California, meet with Gov. Gavin Newsom.
- Search continues for several people missing from California’s North Complex Fire.
- More than 30,000 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to almost 100 major fires burning in the West, the National Fire Information Center says.
Death toll rises to 15 in North Complex Fires
Butte County Officials reported another death in the North Complex Fire Monday evening, bringing the death toll to 15 as the fire continues raging north of Sacramento.
As of Monday, the sheriff’s office had received 182 reports of missing people. Detectives have located 165 of those individuals, and authorities are still looking for two of those people, according to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.
The fire, which has burned more than 410 square miles in Butte and Plumas counties, was listed as 39% contained Monday. The fire, about 80 miles north of Sacramento, has been burning for almost a month.
– Terell Jenkins, Reno Gazette Journal
Two-thirds of burnt acreage are on federal land
So far this summer, two of every three charred acres in California, Oregon and Washington have been owned by federal land managed by Trump’s administration.
In California, Washington and Oregon combined, about 1.9 million acres have burned on federally-managed land compared to just over 1 million acres on non-federal land, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Wally Covington, professor of forestry at Northern Arizona University, attributed the fires to the decades-old failure of policymakers in addressing climate change and the effects of aggressive fire suppression on forests.
“I was hopeful back in the ’90s and ’80s that maybe we would reverse climate change effects. Now I’m kind of pessimistic,” Covington said.
– Damon Arthur, Redding Record Searchlight
Biden cites climate change, rips Trump on wildfires; Trump rips right back
The wildfires and recent extreme weather underscore an urgent need to address climate change, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Monday. Biden was speaking shortly before President Donald Trump was to meet in California with Gov. Gavin Newsom and others to discuss the fires.
Biden said the tragedy requires “leadership, not scapegoating” and that “it’s clear we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.”
Trump insisted during a briefing in Northern California that “forest management” is more to blame.
“When trees fall down after a short period of time, they become very dry – really like a matchstick … and they can explode,” Trump said as he and others breathed in the smoky, hazy air near Sacramento.
During a briefing with Trump, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, told him forest management is an issue, but “climate change is real, and that is exacerbating this.”
An Oregon sheriff has a message for residents who are holding people at gunpoint in evacuated areas – “please stop that.” Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts says some armed residents concerned about looters have been conducting stops on their own. Roberts said that while his office has received hundreds of emergency calls from suspicious residents in or near evacuated areas, the majority of calls are unfounded. He urged residents not to take the law into their own hands.
“It is illegal to stop someone at gunpoint,” Roberts said late Sunday. “”The last thing I want to see is anything tragically happen because somebody is overreacting to something.”
Kids have questions about what they are hearing and seeing about wildfires on the news, as well as experiencing first-hand. If you are watching the news about the wildfires, your child won’t understand how close or far away the fire is. The images will look scary and they make pick up on words such as “out of control,” “spreading,” “death,” etc. Parenting Now has some ideas on how to talk to your child:
- Offer a safe space for your child to ask questions and express their feelings.
- For littles, answer questions as simply as possible – no details they don’t ask for.
- Reassure your child that hundreds of helpers are working hard to put out the fires, help families get the things they need.
- Suggest your child express their feelings through art and creative play.
– Parenting Now
The science behind the wildfires’ apocalyptic skies
Orange and red-tinged skies across much of the West may look like a set for film about Mars, but the funky colors are the real deal. It’s all about how the sun is bouncing off of what’s in the atmosphere, said Rebecca Muessle, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Portland.
“The reason the sky is blue is because light is scattering off of the water vapor,” Muessle said. “When it comes to the smoke, the light is reflecting a different color.”
Some areas of Oregon have seen a shift from bright orange hues to a more subdued charcoal color in recent days. That is due to the amount and size of ash and other smoke particles from the fires, Muessle said. Residents should get used to the odd colors – many of the fires are zero percent contained or close to it.
– Hana Khalyleh, Kate Cimini and Virginia Barreda, Salem Statesman Journal
No containment yet for Oregon’s killer Beachie Creek Fire
Growth on two major Oregon fires burning northeast of Salem has slowed but they remain 0% contained, authorities said Monday. The Beachie Creek and Riverside fires are one mile apart but a merge is not imminent, according to Oregon State Fire Marshal officials. The Beachie Creek Fire has killed four people and destroyed most of the tourist town of Detroit.
“One of our focuses right now is getting containment around the fire up, getting good fire lines around it,” Beachie Creek Fire spokesman Stefan Myers said.
– Virginia Barreda and Zach Urness, Salem Statesman Journal
Trump, quiet on fires, to pay visit today
President Donald Trump, out west for a series of campaign fundraisers and rallies, will meet with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and visit a fire command center in Sacramento County today where he will be briefed by local and federal fire and emergency officials, the White House said. Trump has had little to say about the fires, either on Twitter or in his public appearances, although he did thank the firefighters in a tweet Friday and indicated that financial help was on the way. Last month he had threatened to withhold federal money.
“I see again the forest fires are starting,” he said at an August rally in Pennsylvania. “They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests. … “Maybe we’re just going to have to make them pay for it because they don’t listen to us.”
Trump’s assertions that forest management is to blame for the fires is falling deaf ears among Democratic political leaders on the West Coast as they grapple with how to douse the blazes. Inslee, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” described climate change as “a blowtorch over our states in the West.”
“It is maddening right now that when we have this cosmic challenge to our communities, with the entire West Coast of the United States on fire, to have a president deny that,” Inslee said. “These are climate fires.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, also appeared on the program, pointing out that the Cascade snowpacks have gotten smaller and forests drier.
“The president has said it’s all about raking the forest. It’s just a big and devastating lie,” Merkley said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted: “The hots are getting hotter. The wets are getting wetter. Climate change isn’t something that is going to happen in the future. It’s happening right NOW.”
Wildfires in California and other western states are getting worse every year, but is climate change all to blame? We explain.
State Fire Marshal Jim Walker made an offer to a distraught employee that he says ultimately led to his resignation. The employee was worried about a relative who lived an area where four people have died since the Beachie Creek Fire raced through the area a week ago. So, on Thursday night, Walker and a member of the incident management team searched through the dark and dense smoke of the canyon. All but one were accounted for. The next day Walker, who reports to State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton, was placed on paid leave.
“Their take was … you’re using your position or your job to be able to go into that area,” Walker said. “I can’t in good faith work in a system that’s non-supportive to what I see as needing to be provided to our firefighters on the ground.”
– Claire Withycombe, Salem Statesman Journal
‘I could never have envisioned this’: At least 35 dead as nearly 100 wildfires rage
Fire closes in on gateway city to Sequoia National Park
A section of Sequoia National Park was closed as the Sequoia Complex Fire threatens Three Rivers, a gateway city to the park. Three Rivers is a town of more than 2,000 people in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada at the edge of the San Joaquin Valley.
“Our No. 1 priority is public and employee safety. It is crucial to take care of our staff and our gateway community of Three Rivers,” said Acting Superintendent Lee Taylor. “With this partial park closure, it is our intention to reduce possible evacuation complexity of the Three Rivers community by reducing the amount of visitors in the area.”
– Sheyanne N. Romero and James Ward, Visalia Times-Delta
Cal Fire has provided a grim update on the state’s wildfires. Over 16,750 firefighters are battling 29 major wildfires across California. Since the beginning of the year, wildfires have burned over 3.3 million acres in the state, an area larger than the state of Connecticut. Since Aug. 15, when California’s fire activity elevated amid thousands of lightning strikes in parched forests and brush, more than 4,100 structures have been destroyed.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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