California fire officials contradict Trump’s claim about water shortage amid wildfire

07 August, 2018, 12:56 | Author: Angel Logan
  • A firefighting helicopter drops water onto a hot spot at the River Fire near Lakeport California

Officials have confirmed that six people, including two firefighters and a woman and her two great-grandchildren, have died.

The fire comes as California firefighters continue to struggle to contain the deadly Carr Fire to the north of the Mendocino Fires.

Temperatures could reach 110 degrees (43 Celsius) in Northern California over the next few days with gusty winds fanning the flames of the complex, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.

In a pair of tweets that puzzled experts, Trump said the wildfires are worsened by "bad environmental laws which aren't allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized".

Cal Fire reported that a huge amount of resources have been concentrated on trying to get containment on the Carr Fire including 386 fire engines; 99 water tenders; 16 helicopters; 77 hand crews; 123 bulldozers; 4,674 personnel; and air tankers from throughout the state flying fire suppression missions. "It's not like we would've taken that water and sprayed it on the forest, and it's not clear how drying out our rivers would reduce our fire risks", Westerling says.

"We have plenty of water", Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean told The Hill after Trump's tweet on Monday.

Officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) and the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, stressed that wild-land blazes are battled primarily by crews hacking away at dry brush with hand tools and bulldozers, not with water.

Neither the drought, nor California's water management policies, have stopped firefighters from using all the water they need to fight this year's wildfires, experts say. The Mendocino Complex Fires, which have killed two people, have grown to a combined 273,664.

"The fire did make a big push through Long Valley into Spring Valley", he said, adding that some structures were burned in both Spring Valley and Long Valley when "the fire made a very significant, extremely erratic push into those areas".

The SAFD hopes its crew will help in the fight, adding to the more than 4,700 fire personnel who are now battling the Carr Fire. The Thomas Fire scorched a much more densely populated area, burning through 1,063 structures and damaging 280 more.

The fire is burning in mostly rural areas, though 143 buildings have been destroyed, including 75 homes, and 26 other buildings have been damaged.

Meanwhile, new evacuations were ordered Saturday near twin fires burning in Mendocino and Lake counties.

Environmental activists and some politicians say the intensity of the state's wildfire season could be linked in part to climate change.

At the same time, firefighters have pulled back in the uninhabited national forests to the north, where they have cut fire lines and are employing indirect methods.

Trump's tweet went on: "Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!"

The fires in Northern California have created such a haze of smoke in the Central Valley that Sacramento County health officials advised residents to avoid outdoor activities for the entire week.

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