10 Dead As California Fire Becomes Deadliest Of The Year
Speaker 1: 00:00 Milder than expected weather has helped firefighters make progress against the Valley fire burning in San Diego's East County. The fire is now in its seventh day. It's burned more than 17,600 acres and destroyed 30 homes. Fire officials say the blazes now nearly 40% contained and they hope cooler weekend. Temperatures will help them increase containment, but the situation is not so hopeful in other areas of the state where massive fires are burning case in point a combination of 37 fires around to Hayma County called the August complex. Fire has grown to 471,000 acres, the largest ever recorded in this state. Johnny Mae is Daniel Berlanti. He's assistant deputy director of Cal fire. He oversees many of the state's fire prevention programs and Daniel, welcome to the program. Thank you. What kinds of weather conditions would be the best for firefighters here in San Diego this weekend as they work to increase that containment and then hit hotspots within the footprint of the fire? Speaker 2: 01:04 Well, what we are looking forward to and what we are forecasting is to see actually an onshore flow. These are winds coming from the ocean. Uh, that's not only going to bring us some cooler temperatures and really kind of return us back to, to normal. Um, but it also will increase the humidity. And when we have increased humidity, uh, that too allows a firefighters and opportunity to make good progress because typically our fire activity, the fire behavior really starts to, uh, to moderate. What Speaker 1: 01:30 About weather conditions around some of California's biggest fires are those winds and temperatures going to improve this weekend Speaker 2: 01:37 Across the state, we are going to continue to see a return to normal temperatures for this time of year. And even in fact, uh, some cooler temperatures in many areas. So, uh, this is, is a welcome site. After, you know, we have seen just record breaking temperatures when a number of these fires broke out, that was combined then with gusty winds, both, uh, in Northern California and down in, in, in Southern California, it was not as strong as it was a predicted, but those winds were strong enough to fan a number of, uh, fires, including the Valley fire. Like you mentioned, again, those winds have died down the last several days. That's allowed our crews to make real good progress, Speaker 1: 02:12 At least is some good news. So give us an overview, if you would, about how many major fires are burning and the types of damage they've done for instance, the North complex. Speaker 2: 02:23 Yeah, well across California, including the Valley fire in San Diego, we are battling 28 major wildfires and complexes. As you mentioned that you give the August complex in to Hayma County, which is a w well, North of Sacramento is actually made up of several fires, but being managed as one. So 28 major incidents right now burning in California, uh, and that has got over nearly 15,000 firefighters right now on the front lines battling those fires. Now we are making real good progress. I mean, containment is up on a number of fronts, a number of the fires in the last 24 hours. We've seen a little to no growth of the Valley fire, for example, in San Diego County containment up 7%, the North complex, which you mentioned in, uh, the Northern part of California near Lake Oroville, uh, outside the community of Chico, uh, that fire, uh, as well, we did not see, uh, very much growth about 5,000 acres. Uh, but in total it's, you know, been holding it just over 250,000 acres. And so with the decrease in the winds on that fire, even though it was able to do a lot of destruction, firefighters making good progress and just touching on the destruction, the North complex, obviously we know we've got about 2000, uh, homes and buildings that were destroyed by the fire, but all in total, uh, so far in all of these fires, we have seen significant damage. In fact, over 3,900 structures have been destroyed in the past month. Speaker 1: 03:51 And how many Californians have lost their lives in these fires? Speaker 2: 03:55 Sadly, this has been a, a deadly month for wildfires across California. The past month 20 people, uh, have died in these fires, uh, in the North complex up in Butte County, uh, a record 10, uh, have already been confirmed in the Sheriff's department, continuing to search for the possibility of more, uh, the North complex with, with 10 people now being confirmed. It has hit the records. It is now the 10th deadliest fire in our state's history. Speaker 1: 04:22 What's the situation like for firefighters on the front lines they've been going after these fires straight for a couple of weeks. Now, Speaker 2: 04:29 Many firefighters have been on duty for well over a month, uh, in, in many cases, uh, because of just extreme fire activity, those firefighters are having to work 24 48, sometimes even 72 hours straight. Uh, but many firefighters have been really responding to one fire after another, after another. Now the, the major activity really picked up on, uh, August 15th. That's when we had a significant lightening siege across much of Northern California. But even before that, we had several weeks of large fires down in the LA basin. Uh, and so again, many firefighters being on the front lines for well over a month. And unfortunately we are just now getting into really the time period when we see our largest and our most damaging wildfires. And so the fact that we have had firefighters on for so long, the fact that we've had so many destructive and enormously large fires, it's not a good sign of what may be to come. Speaker 1: 05:24 Yeah, I was going to ask you, this is relatively early in the States fire season. So what does the rest of the season look like? Speaker 2: 05:31 Well, right now, while we are predicting and above normal potential for large fires, across many areas of California, including, uh, much of, uh, San Diego and Southern California and that above normal potential will act, we're really extend, uh, through the year all the way into November and December. And so, you know, we're going to continue to be on high alert. We'll continue to, you know, be prepared for the next four, but, you know, we, we always look forward to the winter months, but really in California, even the winter months have become part of the fire season. Speaker 1: 06:05 I've been speaking with Daniel Berland assistant, deputy director of Cal fire and Daniel. Thank you very much for speaking with us. Thank you.