After losing homes in the Thomas Fire, the next challenge is insurance

Carl Zaid wasn’t sure how to tell his wife their house had just burned to the ground, so he did it with the help of a flamingo. Her name was Miss Pink, and she was perched in her usual spot in the front yard the night the family fled as flames approached from the canyon behind them. And she was there the next day, singed but still standing, when Zaid and his two daughters came back to find their house a heap of concrete, rubble and countless screws. Christmas lights straddled the mailbox. Zaid called his wife. He broke the news. “Miss Pink’s feathers are a little ruffled, but guess what — she’s looking for a new home,” he said. Losing the Ventura home they moved into almost 40 years ago was hard. Really hard. Finding out their insurance won’t come near to covering the cost of rebuilding has begun to [...]

January 31st, 2018|0 Comments

The wildfires in California just keep shattering records this year

(CNN)This year's rash of catastrophic wildfires didn't just destroy neighborhood and livelihoods -- they also annihilated records. And the destruction's not over. The Thomas Fire, which has torched the equivalent of Dallas and Miami combined, is still raging in Southern California.   Here's a look at the records obliterated by the 2017 wildfires: The costliest in US history Damage estimates from the 2017 wildfires topped $10 billion, said Adam Smith of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And that was beforedevastating wildfires tore through Southern California in December. For the past five years, wildfires scorched an average of 202,751 acres from January 1 through December 24, according to state fire protection agency Cal Fire. That number doubled in 2017. More than 505,900 acres have gone up in flames so far in California. That's triple the area of Chicago. Opinion: How climate change worsens natural disasters The worst for air [...]

December 28th, 2017|0 Comments

Alarming failures left many in path of California wildfires vulnerable and without warning

The Sonoma ridgeline was a sunrise of flame as Sgt. Brandon Cutting led deputies up country roads to pound on doors, hollering “Sheriff’s Office!” Thirty minutes later, with Cutting huffing from exertion and choking in thick smoke, the evacuation of Redwood Hill was still playing out one door at a time. He followed the sound of shouts to an officer struggling to carry a disabled woman. Her house was on fire. Her shoe on the ground. The night around them was orange in every direction. It was 11 on a Sunday night, the beginning of what would be the most destructive fire siege in California history. Frantic rescues were taking place across wine country as heavy winds ripped down power lines and the dry hills lit up in flames. Modern technology in the form of robocalls and digital alerts would not join the fight to roust sleeping [...]

December 27th, 2017|0 Comments

Largest California fire not expected to spread as winds subside

(Reuters) - The largest wildfire in California history was not expected to spread on Sunday with light winds forecast, officials said. The Thomas Fire that began northwest of Los Angeles on Dec. 4 has burned 273,400 acres (110,641 hectares), the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said, bigger than the size of New York City. The latest figure is unchanged since Friday. Winds are expected to be lighter than 10 miles per hour, Cal Fire said. The fire was 70 percent contained, unchanged from Saturday. The cause was still not known. The fire spread from its start in Ventura County due to strong Santa Ana winds from the California desert. The fire has destroyed 1,063 structures and scorched coastal mountains, foothills and canyons across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties northwest of Los Angeles, officials said. Cal Fire said there were flare-ups of hot [...]

December 26th, 2017|0 Comments

Southern California wildfires trigger mass destruction, hurting families, economy

Authorities lifted all evacuation orders in Santa Barbara County and portions of Ventura County on Dec. 21, nearly three weeks after fire personnel started working to slow the wind-whipped Thomas Fire. Officials said the so-called “Thomas Fire,” which started on Dec. 4 about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, has caused at least 50,000 people to evacuate, destroyed at least 1,063 structures and scorched roughly 281,620 acres so far. About 18,000 additional structures are threatened by the wildfire as well, according to officials. The cause of the fire is currently unknown. As of Monday evening, it was 86 percent contained.  Additionally, the Thomas Fire is now the biggest blaze in California's history since detailed record-keeping began in 1932. One firefighter has died while trying to combat the fire in Southern California, authorities said on Dec. 14. Cory Iverson, 32, was an engineer based in San Diego. He left behind [...]

December 26th, 2017|0 Comments

Thomas fire in California now the 2nd largest in state’s history

The monster Thomas fire north of Los Angeles is leaving its place in the state's record books as it is now officially the second largest fire in California history. For the past 16 days, the fire that has been turning mountainsides to ash has grown. The fire only needs to consume a couple thousand more acres to dethrone the 2003 Cedar fire that maintains the top spot on the list. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced this morning that 60 percent of the fire is contained, up from 55 percent Tuesday and 50 percent on Monday. Cal Fire reported that it was the same size -- 272,000 acres -- as the night before. So far, the overpowering Thomas fire has claimed two lives, caused more than 100,000 people to flee their homes and destroyed 1,313 structures. More than 8,526 firefighters have put [...]

December 20th, 2017|0 Comments

California fire: Resident says neighborhood looks like ‘war zone’

(CNN)Jeannette Frescas was not concerned about the Thomas Fire until the massive blaze reached her neighborhood in Ventura, California. "At midnight, I woke up with a flashlight in my face," Frescas told CNN affiliate KEYT. "I looked out my window and there were flames that were like, a hundred feet, all around us." Like many residents, Frescas was caught off guard by the fire that has roared across Southern California for 13 days. She's one of tens of thousands of residents who piled into cars and fled as ferocious winds drove the third-largest blaze in modern state history through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. "What was once a paradise was like a war zone," Frescas said of her apartment complex, which was destroyed by the blaze. "It's the scariest thing I've been through in my entire life." Ventura resident Patricia Rye woke up to her son-in-law pounding [...]

December 17th, 2017|0 Comments

California’s wildfire, the state’s third largest, now bigger than New York City

by ASSOCIATED PRESS SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The massive wildfire that California has been battling since early December has now ballooned into the third largest in the state's history, burning a record amount of acreage, officials said Saturday. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority said the Thomas Fire, which started Dec. 4 in Santa Paula, has now burned 259,000 acres. That exceeds the devastating Rim Fire southeast of Sacramento in 2013 by 2,000 acres, and outsizes New York City, which measures more than 195,000 acres. "As of this morning, we're at 259,000 acres and still growing," Concialdi said. The region has had "red flag" — or hot, dry and windy — conditions for an unprecedented 13 consecutive days. The National Weather Service says those conditions would last at least through Saturday evening, with winds gusting to 40 mph in the Santa Barbara County mountains where the fire is burning. [...]

December 16th, 2017|0 Comments

Thousands flee as wildfire ‘beast’ grows to California’s third-largest

VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - A raging California wildfire powered by fierce winds grew into the third-largest in state history on Saturday as forced evacuations turned neighborhoods into ghost towns and ash fell in some areas like heavy snow. High winds and dry conditions were expected to remain through the weekend to power the so-called Thomas Fire in Southern California. It has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 more since erupting on Dec. 4, including homes in the wealthy enclave of Montecito just outside the coastal city of Santa Barbara. “It is a beast,” Santa Barbara County Fire Department Division Chief Martin Johnson told a news conference. “But we will kill it,” he said. Nearly 8,500 personnel using nearly 1,000 engines and 32 helicopters were battling the blaze, which was 40 percent contained on Saturday evening. It has become the seventh-most destructive in state [...]

December 16th, 2017|0 Comments

Southern California wildfires trigger mass destruction, hurting families, economy

Thousands of people in Southern California have been forced to evacuate as wind-whipped wildfires continue to blaze across Ventura County. Officials said the so-called “Thomas Fire,” which started on Dec. 4 about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, has now caused at least 50,000 people to evacuate, destroyed at least 972 structures and scorched roughly 242,500 acres so far. About 18,000 additional structures are threatened by the wildfire as well, according to officials. The cause of the fire is currently unknown. As of Thursday morning, it was only 30 percent contained. Authorities confirmed the death of a 70-year-old woman on Dec. 8. Virginia Pesola was reportedly killed in a car crash along an evacuation route on Dec. 6. Her death is the first connected to the six wildfires in the region. In addition, one unnamed firefighter has reportedly been injured and three other people were burned, [...]

December 14th, 2017|0 Comments