More than 80,000 people have been forced to flee the raging fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Now, two airlines have relaxed their rules about animals in aircraft cabins, offering a chance for all family members to stay together onboard.
Fort McMurray, a city of more than 80,000, has been ordered to evacuate after a massive wildfire breached the city limits today. The city wide evacuation order advised remaining residents to evacuate north to Noralta Lodge with the work camps that service the oil sands being pressed into service to house the evacuees. Earlier evacuations to the south producing some harrowing footage. Highway 63 has been closed south of the city, cutting off the main road connection between Ft. McMurray and the rest of Alberta.
After two devestating fires - Rocky and Jerusalem - Lake Country is hit again. This time with the Valley Fire. Lake County is an hour north of Napa in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it has spent the past three months more or less constantly on fire. In just under seven hours, the fire has burned an estimated 20,000 acres. This time, it's heading straight for two of the larger communities in the area: Middletown and Hidden Valley Lake. Four firefighters have been treated for second degree burns received while fighting this new, explosive fire. [more inside]
The Rocky Fire, about 100 miles north of San Francisco, has defied projections and containment for more than a week. Almost 1/3 of the firefighters dispatched to California's wildfires are working on the Rocky Fire, which is over 100 square miles and only 40% contained. Last weekend, aided by the hot, dry weather, the fire doubled in size in five hours. This fire season has been one of the worst in California, particularly because of the drought and years of budget crises. It is so big that the smoke can even be seen in space. "'It has gone in every direction with intensity,' including downhill said Scott Upton, a unit chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and an expert on fire behavior. 'It’s like an amoeba.'" [more inside]
While California's water shortage continues, Cascadia has been suffering its own drought conditions, to the extent that expanding wildfires have lent the skies of Vancouver, B.C. a Mars-like orange hue.
About half of the people fighting wildland fires on the ground for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) are incarcerated: over 4,400 prisoners, housed at 42 inmate fire camps, including three for women. Together, says Capt. Jorge Santana, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) liaison who supervises the camps, they save the state over $1 billion a year. This year, California has had over 5,300 wildfires, which is about 700 more than had occurred by this time in 2013, and a thousand more than the five-year average. Now, as the West is coming to the end of one of the driest, hottest years in recorded history, the work of inmate firefighters has become essential to California’s financial and environmental health. (SLBuzzfeedNews)
How often does a great story dominate the headlines, only to be dropped from the news cycle? How often do journalists tell us of a looming danger or important discovery – only to move quickly to the next new thing? What really happened? How did these events change us? And what are the lingering consequences that may affect our society to this day? These are the questions we are answering at Retro Report, an innovative documentary news organization launched in 2013 as a timely online counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle. Combining documentary techniques with shoe-leather reporting, we peel back the layers of some of the most perplexing news stories of our past with the goal of encouraging the public to think more critically about current events and the media in ~10 minute segments. [more inside]
A short drive through hell. NSFW swearing (in Russian).
Time-lapse video of the Southern California wildfires. Another image of the fires, as seen from space. Google Map.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is burning (again). Over the past few days, more than 22,000 acres have burned, and a mandatory evacuation has been ordered for the north end of the Gunflint Trail. Fire containment remains at only 5%, and the fire's growth potential remains high due to strong winds, lack of rainfall, and the dense concentration of blown-down trees caused by a major windstorm in 1999. Officials are now attempting to fight fire with fire. Fire danger is high to extreme across northern Minnesota and fire restrictions are in effect indefinitely. The BWCAW previously.
Do you think there is a possible connection between the events (NYT headlines): Attack Possible in U.S. or Yemen, the F.B.I. Warns and Small Fire Becomes Inferno, Burning Homes in California ?
GeekPress (much recommended) is threatened by the fire. They posted a picture of what it looked like from their house.