Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Military C-130s with modular air firefighting systems this morning began dropping fire retardant and water on wildfires plaguing California. They will continue the effort as long as wind conditions allow, defense officials said.
A total of 16 wildfires have burned more than 360,000 acres in Southern California, and hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from homes in danger areas, California National Guard officials said today.
California officials said that five people have died as a result of the fires; more than 2,100 homes and other structures have been destroyed or damaged; and more than 87,500 structures are in danger from the fast-moving fires. Santa Ana winds, often blowing at speeds up to 100 miles per hour, have complicated firefighting efforts, officials said.
Fourteen helicopters from the California National Guard, the Navy and Marine Corps are using buckets to drop water on the blazes, officials said.
Everything California has asked the Defense Department for has been delivered, U.S. Northern Command officials said, and command officials are leaning forward to anticipate what the state might need as the crisis continues.
Thirty-two active-duty servicemembers, 67 defense civilians and 1,500 National Guardsmen are directly engaged in immediate response, supporting firefighting response, command and control, logistics support, security, communications and relief operations, U.S. Northern Command officials said. U.S. Northern Command is responsible for coordinating defense support to civil authorities in emergencies.
A total of 550 Marines and 17,301 California National Guardsmen are standing by, available for duty if needed. The Marines are going through firefighting training in anticipation of being called. Officials at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said that federal firefighters will flow into the area over the next few days.
About 1,400 Navy personnel and their families have been evacuated onto three Navy bases: Coronado, El Centro and San Diego. This clears civilian shelters for more evacuees.
The Marine Corps has evacuated about 40 aircraft from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, officials said.
An Aegis cruiser, a guided-missile destroyer and two fast frigates will remain in port to support evacuation and movement of dependents.
Local military installations have provided about 10,000 cots to local evacuation sites, NORTHCOM officials said. In response to a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Defense Department has designated March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. and North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego for use as forward staging areas for federal supplies flowing south from the FEMA logistics center at Moffitt Field, Calif.
Major Disaster Declared for California Wildfires
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
This declaration follows on the report made to President Bush by Secretary Michael Chertoff and FEMA Administrator David Paulison, who toured areas impacted by the wildfires and reviewed the federal response efforts in support of local officials in California on Tuesday.
Info and photo from the Homeland Security website
Photo by California Governor's Office
* More Information on California Wildfires HERE and HERE
About above photo: As the sun begins to rise over Naval Base San Diego in Coronado, Calif., October 23, 2007, smoke from the wildfires lingers overhead. More than 250,000 people have been urged to flee their homes across Southern California as wildfires continue to spread throughout the county. Navy Region Southwest has established several Military Evacuation Centers for Navy families who have been forced to evacuate their homes.
U.S. Navy photo by Cdr. Jane Campbell
* The USAToday.com website put this report out around 12:00pm CDT... Fierce Santa Ana winds that have driven raging wildfires for three days moderated on Wednesday, giving exhausted firefighters better conditions to battle 16 fires that have already caused $1 billion in property damage in San Diego County alone... The winds, which had reached gusts as high as 100 mph, fell to a sustained speed of 21 to 36 mph in some areas. Westerly seabreezes were also expected to counter the hot winds that have been roaring in from the Mojave Desert for three days...
Read story in full at link below...
Shifting winds may help California firefighters
* The CNN.com website has lots of info, photos, stories, videos and more at link below...
Fire 'Tornados' Form In California
Video post on LiveLeak by: barnesy
Fires in Southern California
(The following image and info is from the EarthObservatory.NASA.gov website)
This image of the fires in California was captured at 1:55 p.m. U.S. Pacific Daylight Time on October 22, 2007. Places where MODIS detected actively burning fires are outlined in red. Thick streamers of smoke unfurl over the Pacific Ocean. The brownish plumes are clouds of dust. Fires northwest of Los Angeles seemed calmer at the time of this image than they were the previous day.
The drought in the Southwest throughout summer 2007 has been “extreme” according to the categories used by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Dry vegetation and Santa Ana winds, which can reach hurricane force as they race downslope from the deserts of the Great Basin and through narrow mountain passes, are often a devastating combination in Southern California. According to the Incident Management Situation Report from the National Interagency Fire Center for October 22, Santa Ana winds were expected to continue through Wednesday.
For more information about individual fires in Southern California, visit the Fire Information page of the National Interagency Fire Center Website.
You can download a 250-meter-resolution KMZ file of the fires suitable for use with Google Earth.
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of the University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering MODIS Direct Broadcast facility.
I will post more on this terrible story over the next few days. But again I say... God’s speed to all of those who are helping in the effort to fight these terrible... ongoing fires.