California can’t seem to catch a break, it is once again on fire. Fueled by triple-digit temperatures and dry conditions, more than a dozen fast-moving, aggressive wildfires are spreading throughout the Golden State. Thousands of Californians have been evacuated and face the uncertainty of whether they will have a home to return to.
On the heels of the devastating 2017 fire season, experts say this year’s fire season is set to be one of the state’s worst ever. Three of these fires, the Carr Fire, Mendocino Complex and Ferguson Fire are in Northern California as thousands of firefighters work around the clock to gain control of them. On the path to be one of the most destructive fires is the massive and deadly Carr Fire.The Carr Fire
Currently the sixth most destructive in the state’s history, the Carr Fire is burning in Trinity and Shasta counties. It has taken eight lives, destroyed more than a thousand homes and buildings and burned through hundreds of thousands of acres. The fire forced thousands of residents in Redding and other communities in Shasta County to flee their homes. The Carr Fire started in the foothills of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and within a matter of days, quickly spread and turned everything in its path into ashes and black embers.
Watch YouTube Video: Fury of Carr Fire Takes California Community by Surprise. CBS This Morning reports on the Carr Fire that exploded overnight, burning dozens of homes while threatening hundreds more.Timeline of the Carr Fire
July 23, 2018:
The Carr Fire started on Monday, July 23, 2018, near Carr Powerhouse Road and Highway 299 in Whiskeytown. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reported that the fire started when a vehicle suffered a mechanical failure. The rim of the vehicle’s flat tire scraped against the asphalt, consequently creating sparks and began to spread quickly. Firefighters immediately responded to the blaze, but steep terrain and hot conditions made it challenging for them to build containment lines. Officials shut down Highway 299, and a mandatory evacuation was ordered for the nearby French Gulch community.
July 26, 2018:
Within three days, the fire burned through 20,000 acres and was only at 10 percent containment. It has destroyed 15 structures and damaged five others. The fire crossed over the Sacramento River towards the City of Redding, prompting some areas in western Redding to be placed under mandatory evacuation. Electric power was shut off to residents in the northern part of Redding, and Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency.
A strong fire whirl estimated at 143 mph developed within the Carr Fire. Comparable to an EF3 tornado, the fire whirl rose to a height of about 40,000 feet and caused extensive damages to trees and buildings. Experts described it as a fire tornado or “firenado.” Three people, a great-grandmother, and her two great-grandchildren were killed inside their home when the walls were blown out, and the roof collapsed on them. Several homes in the area suffered significant roof damage.
Fire crews continued building containment lines, but work was stalled due to extreme fire danger. Two firefighters were killed, and three suffered burn injuries. By midnight, a mandatory evacuation was ordered for residents of Summit City, Shasta Dam and nearby areas in the west part of Redding. The National Guard was called in to help battle the fire.
July 27, 2018:
About 500 buildings were destroyed by the fire, and 5,000 others were threatened. Fire crews continued working overnight with making containment lines a priority. A heat advisory and a red flag warning were issued for the surrounding areas.
July 28, 2018:
More than 38,000 people were evacuated. President Trump declared a state of emergency for California because of the Carr Fire and other wildfires that are burning throughout the state. Anderson and Happy Valley residents were mandated to evacuate. A total of 536 buildings were destroyed, and 117 others were damaged. Erratic winds, fueled by extreme temperatures, created a few spot fires across the area.
July 29, 2018:
A sixth person was reported dead while the fire burned into rural areas of Trinity and Shasta Counties. Residents in the Lewiston community were mandated to evacuate. The National Guard was sent to monitor evacuated Redding neighborhoods for looting activities.
July 30, 2018:
Evacuation orders were lifted for areas of Shasta Lake, Happy Valley, and western Redding. Residents returned to see if their homes were still standing. Firefighters continued to make containment lines a priority but faced challenges due to the strong winds.
July 31, 2018:
The fire had scorched over 112,000 acres and was at 30 percent containment. Evacuation orders were lifted for areas of Summit City and Buckeye. Faced with intense heat, high terrain, and strong winds, fire crews continued to be challenged by the fire along the western edge.
August 1, 2018:
Residents in the Mary Lake Subdivision returned home after evacuations orders were lifted. All people who were reported missing were accounted for, and the city shut down the missing person hotline related to the Carr Fire.
August 2, 2018:
The fire had grown to 125,842 acres and was 36 percent contained. Evacuation orders were lifted for residents in the Middletown Park, Ranch Land Acres, Sunset Terrace and Sunset West neighborhoods.
August 4, 2018:
A Pacific General Electric worker was killed in a vehicle-related accident on the western edge of the Carr Fire while working to restore power in dangerous terrain. Governor Jerry Brown visited the destruction of the Carr Fire near Redding and requested a major disaster declaration to help provide additional federal assistance for fire victims in Shasta County. President Trump later approved the request.
August 9, 2018:
A Cal Fire mechanic responding to the Carr Fire died in a traffic accident on Highway 99 in Tehama County, bringing the total number of deaths to eight.
Current Carr Fire Incident Information
As of this writing, the Carr Fire has burned 218,598 acres and is 75% contained. It has destroyed nearly 1600 structures and damaged 282 others. More than 100 structures remain threatened by the fire. The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services is working with over 20 response agencies to address all evacuation, emergency management, and mutual aid needs for the incident. More than 4,000 fire personnel are battling this fire. However, dense timber, dry vegetation, and terrain driven winds have challenged firefighting efforts. As of now, full containment of the fire is unknown.What Sets the Carr Fire Apart?
The Carr Fire is unlike any other fires. Instead of an aggressive wind that usually fuels a fast-moving fire, the Carr Fire is so hot, it created its own extreme weather conditions. Scientists say a rare weather pattern, similar to a fire tornado, developed due to extreme temperatures. For a half hour on the evening of Friday, July 26th, the firenado picked up ash, burning embers, and flammable debris and extended thousands of feet in the air. The winds were so strong, it tore rooftops, uprooted trees and stripped away their bark. The firenado was a rare phenomenon which left many residents terrified as they watched the cyclone of flames rip through their neighborhoods.
Watch YouTube Video: Fire Whirl in Carr Fire Equal to EF3 Tornado. CBS Sacramento shows the rotating column of fire near Redding.How Did the Firenado Form?
The firenado developed as the fire erupted and started to rotate like a thunderstorm. The smoke plume initially reached about 20,000 feet, but couldn’t go any higher because it was trapped under an inversion. The cap in the atmosphere triggered the smoke to spread out. Two plumes managed to rupture the cap and exploded upward reaching a height of almost 40,000 feet. That intense, quick upright growth of the fire drove an updraft that eventually spawned the tornado.
Watch YouTube Video: Firenado: Flaming Vortex of Destruction. This video from USA Today explains how wildfires are creating their own weather, including the firenado.
The Camp Fire
The Camp Fire has been burning in the small town of Paradise in Butte County, a retirement community with a population of 27,000. The fast-moving fire started on Thursday, November 8, 2018, in the rural area of Camp Creek Road near Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon. Dozens of firefighters from across California have been called to help battle the fire.
The Camp Fire is currently the state’s deadliest fire in the last century. It has wiped out the entire town of Paradise, roared through nearby communities and left a staggering toll. The fire has killed 85 people and injured three firefighters, while about 250 people are still missing. The fire has burned over 150,000 acres and destroyed nearly 19,000 structures, mostly homes. According to Cal Fire and the Butte County Fire Department, the Camp Fire has demolished more structures than California’s other seven worst wildfires combined.
Firefighters got a helping hand when California’s first winter storm dropped about seven inches of rain over the burn area about two weeks after the fire started. The wet weather helped put out hot spots and allowed fire crews to search the area for more victims.
The Camp Fire was fully contained as of November 30, 2018. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Watch YouTube Video: Paradise Lost: the town incinerated by California's deadliest wildfire. The video below shows the aftermath of the devastating Camp Fire in Butte County.California Wildfires
The Carr Fire and the Camp Fire are just two of over a dozen wildfires burning across California. So far this year, wildfires have scorched more than 770,000 acres of land throughout the state. According to statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center, wildfires in the Golden State account for about 10 percent of all acres burned in the nation since 2000.Who Should Pay for California’s Wildfires?
As these wildfires continue to scorch across California year after year and are becoming the “new normal,” the big question is, “Who should be responsible for the billions of dollars of damages?” The extreme weather and wildfires across California have made this question an immediate cause for concern. The state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection concluded that twelve of the fires in 2017 were caused by PG&E’s power lines coming into contact with trees and dry vegetation. The utility company will be held responsible for those damages even though it points to climate change as the real culprit. That may be the case, but as wildfires continue to be an issue in California, figuring out who pays for the devastation brought by climate change may not be as easy. In the meantime, consider reaching out to a wildfire lawyer to weigh your options.Why You Need A Wildfire Lawyer
Thousands of people are now homeless due to the Carr Fire and other fires raging across the state. If you have been injured, lost your home, a loved one or a pet in a California wildfire, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. You will need to call your home or car insurance companies to file claims concerning all the damages that occurred. More than likely, you will discover that you won’t have enough insurance benefits to cover the total losses. Unfortunately, many insurance companies undervalue claims and will offer much less than the real value of your losses. This is where a wildfire lawyer comes in. An attorney will go to work for you and handle all the insurance issues to help you receive the full compensation that you and your family deserve to cover all fire-related expenses.Compensation for Wildfire Victims
If you have suffered injuries, damages or losses in one of these California wildfires, it is important for you to know that you have rights. At this time, it does not matter how the fires got started, what really matters is getting the monetary compensation that you and your family need to recover and rebuild. It may be too soon to know who is responsible for starting some of these fires but when investigators determine the cause or causes, we will help to make sure that the guilty party is held liable for your losses, damages, and injuries from these fires.Wildfire Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a California Wildfire Lawyer. Wildfires are one of the most devastating disasters for home and property owners. If you or a family member has suffered losses from the fires, whether injuries, property or business, call me at (530) 392-9400 or (800) 404-5400. You can also contact me online, go to our contact us page.
I’ve been helping residents of Northern California and the surrounding areas for the past 36 years. My firm is currently accepting California wildfire cases. My team and I will apply our collective expertise in helping you, and your loved ones rebuild your life.
I belong to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive forum of members who have won settlements and verdicts of one million dollars or more for a client.
To find out more about my firm and the cases we’ve represented, go on the following pages:
Photos by Denniz Futalan from Pexels, Geralt from Pixabay and Matt Howard on Unsplash
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