Western Wildfire Update: Grass Fire That Threatened Sacramento Homes Now Contained Published Jun 27 2015 09:49 PM EDT weather.com Huge Wildfires Burning East of Los Angeles Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider talking about a week-long fire that’s come back to life and is burning just 90 miles east of Los Angeles. Fire crews were able to contain a fast-moving grass fire that swept through northern Sacramento Saturday, threatening multiple homes and prompting voluntary evacuations. Over 100 Sacramento Fire firefighters are on scene battling the Natomas Fire, which burned one structure and moved near the Placer County line, KCRA-TV reported.Fire crews worked to protect homes and other structures, Sacramento Fire said. When it was initially reported, the fire had burned five acres.Voluntary evacuation orders were issued earlier for the affected area. „South winds of around 10 mph were blowing in the vicinity of the fire when it began. Temperatures near 90 and humidity around 25 percent make this situation somewhat favorable for rapid fire spread, especially with any higher gusts,” said weather.com senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen. (MORE: 120-Degree Temperatures Possible As Heat Wave Pushes On)Here’s an update on some of the other large fires burning in the West.Northern California More favorable weather conditions gave firefighters the edge they needed to make progress on containing a massive wildfire burning in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains. The so-called Lake Fire had burned through more than 30,000 acres of land as of Saturday morning, but containment jumped from 20 to 40 percent, giving hope that the blaze might soon be squelched altogether. Friday’s weather was the biggest contributing factor to the firefighters’ success.”Conditions were cloudier on Friday, and as a result, high temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees lower than on Thursday,” said weather.com senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen.”That, in turn, made the relative humidity a bit higher. Winds also appeared to be a bit lighter around the fire compared to previous days – another helpful factor for firefighters.”Still, mandatory evacuations remained in place for the communities of Burns Canyon and Rim Rock. Voluntary evacuations also remained in place for nearby Pioneertown. Like PageSan Bernardino County Fire Public Services · 9,556 Likes June 24 at 6:00pm ·PHOTO OF THE DAY: VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) drops retardant on the LakeFire in the SanBernardinoCounty Mountains.Photo Credit: Crew 6-2PHOTO OF THE DAY: #VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) drops retardant on the LakeFire in the SanBernardinoCounty Mountains. Photo Credit: Crew 6-2Posted by San Bernardino County Fire on Wednesday, June 24, 2015A wildfire has grown to more than 17,000 acres in inaccessible terrain south of Lake Tahoe. The so-called Washington Fire was 29 percent contained as of Saturday morning. More than 1,100 firefighters are battling the blaze ignited by lightning Friday about 20 miles west of the Nevada border.AlaskaWildfires in Alaska are spreading, but there have been no new evacuations from threatened communities.Tim Mowry, of the Alaska Division of Forestry, told NBC News that there have been 562 fires in Alaska so far this year — around 300 of which were still active — that have charred around 624,000 acres of land. Follow Acreage burned in Alaska increased by almost 200,000 acres yesterday. Up to 624,496 acres. http://fire.ak.blm.gov/content/aicc/sitreport/current.pdf …Earlier this week, residents in threatened communities and rural neighborhoods fled during voluntary evacuations.OregonA wildfire scorching a remote part of southwestern Oregon has grown to more than 8 square miles, but hundreds of firefighters have worked to get it more than halfway contained.Incident commander Doug Johnson said heat, lower humidity, gusty winds and possible thunderstorms are expected this week, which will test the containment lines. He says firefighters will remain vigilant.The lightning-sparked blaze started June 11 and is burning in the Rogue-River Siskiyou National Forest.
California oil spill gushed like hose ‘without a nozzle’ By MICHAEL R. BLOOD and BRIAN MELLEY22 hours agoLOS ANGELES (AP) — Firefighters investigating a reported petroleum stench at a California beach last month didn’t take long to find a spill — oil was spreading across the sand and into the surf. Tracing the source, they found crude gushing from a bluff like a fire hose „without a nozzle,” records show.Related Stories
But critical time would elapse before the operator of a nearby pipeline confirmed that it had ruptured and spewed the oil. An employee at the scene for Plains All American Pipeline initially suggested to firefighters that the spill „was too big to be from their pipeline,” according to the documents obtained by The Associated Press.The description of what firefighters found May 19 at Refugio State Beach was detailed in records Santa Barbara County firefighters filed with state officials. It indicates that firefighters who arrived just before noon quickly recognized that „some sort of leak or spill had occurred.”A Plains company spokeswoman would not comment Thursday on why it took until later in the afternoon for its workers to confirm the line was cracked and spilling thousands of gallons of oil onto the sand and water west of Santa Barbara.Plains is facing scrutiny from federal regulators and lawmakers over the spill, which washed up goo on beaches as far as 100 miles away. The failed pipeline released up to 101,000 gallons, and an estimated 21,000 gallons reached the water.The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee opened an investigation Thursday and asked the company for detailed information on maintenance of the line, including how it addressed corrosion. The panel also wants the company to explain what it did in the hours leading up to the break and how it reported the problem.A key issue has been how long it took the Texas-based company to relay information on the break to the federal government. Internal planning documents stress the importance of notifying the government of a leak as quickly as possible.Federal regulations require the company to notify the National Response Center, a clearinghouse for reports of hazardous-material releases, „at the earliest practicable moment.” State law requires immediate notification of a release or a threatened release.FILE – In this May 21, 2015 file photo, workers prepare an oil containment boom at Refugio State Bea …Company employees at the scene did not confirm a leak until about 1:30 p.m., and it would be nearly 3 p.m. before the company would contact the response center. By then, the federal response led by the Coast Guard was underway.The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is investigating the cause of the accident, and state prosecutors have been considering potential charges against the company. The federal agency released preliminary findings earlier this month that the break occurred along a badly corroded section that had worn away to a fraction of an inch in thickness.At a state legislative hearing Friday in Santa Barbara, Mark S. Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, was asked if the company met state requirements for prompt notification.”It doesn’t appear that they … did that,” Ghilarducci said. „They did not meet that criteria.”State prosecutors have been considering potential charges against the company.In a separate letter Thursday, the House committee asked the pipeline administration for an update of what it called long overdue pipeline safety rules. The panel said the California spill raised questions about the agency’s oversight of pipeline safety and added that the agency had failed to complete 17 of 42 requirements Congress outlined in 2011 to help prevent spills.Cleanup costs have reached $92 million.Federal elected officials released records from Plains All American on Wednesday that provided a look inside a company trying to contend with what became the largest coastal oil spill in California in 25 years.Those records said that once company workers confirmed oil was in the ocean, two employees rode along the pipeline to look for a source. „It was not readily apparent from their vantage point near the beach that the oil originated” from the company pipeline, they said.It was later determined the oil traveled to the beach down a culvert near the break. By the time company employees confirmed the spill, it was at least an hour after firefighters reported oil on the beach.Plains spokeswoman Meredith Matthews said Wednesday that company personnel were on the beach with firefighters around the same time local officials alerted the response center to the spill. „The response was not delayed,” she said.Popular campgrounds have been closed, nearby commercial fishing has been prohibited and nearly 300 marine mammals and birds have been found dead after the spill.At the legislative hearing, Janet Wolf, chair of the county board of supervisors, said county officials were concerned the pipeline company was exerting too much influence on operations following the spill, while local officials were being excluded.She said Plains All American executives were allowed „to make whatever statements or representations they wanted” at news conferences following the spill, while the county’s statements were vetted.”They are embedded in every aspect of operations and meetings that even I, a local elected official … was not permitted to attend,” Wolf said.
Idyllic Country Cottage on the Roof of an NYC Building is Every City-Dweller’s Dream Have you spent much of your life torn between dreams of living an idyllic existence in the countryside and thriving in the heart of a vibrant metropolis? Are you forever yearning for the simple pleasures of a homey little cottage, yet drawn to the pulse that can only be found walking down busy city streets, surrounded by cars and people?From the streets below, you would never know there was such a unique home on the roof of this apartment building. Photo: George SteinmetzNew York City residents David Puchkoff and Eileen Stukane decided they didn’t want to have to choose, and combined both ends of the residential spectrum in a way that leaves us all very, very jealous. The couple built a beautiful cottage on the rooftop of a West Village apartment building on Greenwich Street, and from the sidewalk below you would never know such a hidden gem existed. Puchkoff and Stukane’s cabin is straight out of the countryside. Photo: George SteinmetzComplete with a porch, a lawn and flower beds, this NYC cottage, six floors above street level, is straight out of a fairytale, and it is whatPuchkoff and Stukane have the good fortune of coming home to every evening. The aerial images captured by George Steinmetz are a rare insight into an NYC treasure very few are aware of. Related on Yahoo Makers: Ex-Designer Leaves Big City to Build Coolest Tree House You’ve Ever SeenIf you’re familiar with Aesop’s fable “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” we are sure you’ll appreciate how this couple found a very unique way for the two to live together in harmony. “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” by Aesop, seems a fitting comparison to this idyllic NYC rooftop cottage. Photo: “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” illustrated by Arthur Rackham, via Wikipedia
Lettuce, worms, parking gear aboard SpaceX ship for Sunday launch By Kerry Sheridan7 hours ago Miami (AFP) – Worms, lettuce and a massive parking station for future spaceships are aboard SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon cargo capsule, poised for a Sunday launch.The blast-off of the white, gumdrop-shaped spaceship atop the California-based company’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for 10:21 am (1421 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.Shortly after launch, SpaceX will make a third attempt to land its rocket on an ocean platform. This is part of CEO Elon Musk’s vision of revamping the rocket industry by making expensive rocket parts re-usable instead of discarding them in the ocean as happens now.Moments after launch, as the Dragon heads for orbit, the tall section of the rocket will ignite its engines and guide itself back to a floating barge in the Atlantic for an upright landing.SpaceX’s first try in January ended in failure. The rocket collided with the drone ship platform, after running out of the hydraulic fluid needed to power its steering fins.During a second try in April, the 67,000-pound (30,000-kilogram) rocket managed to set itself down on the platform in an upright position, but tipped over and exploded seconds later.SpaceX blamed a malfunctioning valve controlling the rocket’s engine power for the unsteady landing.This May 6, 2015 still photo from NASA TV shows the SpaceX Dragon spaceship (L) as it separates from …The SpaceX vice president of mission assurance, Hans Koenigsmann, said company experts have learned from past attempts, but it would be hard to predict the chances of success on Sunday.”You look at the data, you evaluate this and then you make a correction and that is ultimately how you succeed,” he told reporters on Friday.- Needed cargo -The Dragon spacecraft will deliver 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) of food, supplies and science experiments to the International Space Station, where two Russian cosmonauts and one American astronaut are living.NASA’s Scott Kelly and Roscosmos’ Mikhail Kornienko are four months into a planned year-long stay in space. The space station commander is Gennady Padalka.SpaceX is now the only American company capable of sending cargo to space. Orbital Sciences’ program is on hold, after one of its rockets exploded on the launchpad last year and destroyed its fully loaded Cygnus cargo carrier.This NASA image taken April 17, 2015 shows the Canadarm 2 reaching out to grapple the SpaceX Dragon …Russia’s supply program also suffered a setback in April when it lost control of its Progress cargo ship and the unmanned capsule burned up on re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere a couple of weeks later.The Dragon’s cargo includes the first of two International Docking Adaptors, which are essentially parking spots that are meant to make it easier for a variety of commercial supply ships to latch onto the orbiting lab in years to come.- Greens in space -Two experiments among the dozens on board aim to help astronauts cultivate their own food in space, a skill that would be key to sustaining a crew during a deep space mission to Mars.One experiment is a type of greenhouse that will enable astronauts to grow lettuce in space.Astronauts have previously grown red romaine lettuce, which was tested back on Earth for signs of dangerous space bugs, said ISS program scientist Julie Robinson. No dangers were found, she said.This time, astronauts may get to sample the Tokyo Bekana cabbage — a bitter leafy green — that they grow.”We don’t have all the paperwork in place yet but we are quite hopeful that the crew will actually get to eat this cabbage after they grow it,” Robinson told reporters.”We are getting closer to that first bite of space lettuce.”Another experiment devised by middle schoolers in Colorado aims to see how 11 worms fare in a compost box in space.Before launch, the worms will be frozen, allowing them to hibernate for Sunday’s flight, before being reanimated when they return to room temperature at the ISS.The aim of the experiment is to see how the red wiggler worms compost a soil combination of eggshells, coffee grounds and newspaper while in orbit.
Python Eats Porcupine, Regrets It Later (Here’s Why) By Elizabeth Palermo16 hours agoEver wonder what might happen if a python ate a porcupine? Well, wonder no more. One of these giant snakes — which kill prey by suffocating it and then consuming it whole — recently dined on a porcupine and didn’t live to brag about it.On June 14, a cyclist riding along one of the mountain bike trails at the Lake Eland Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, spotted a very engorged snake. The cyclist snapped a few photos of the gluttonous python and posted them to social media, where they quickly attracted the attention of locals who wanted to see the python themselves. Lots of people came to the park in the following days just to view the swollen snake, according to Jennifer Fuller, general manager at the game reserve.At the time the photos were taken, no one knew what the snake had eaten, just that it must have been something fairly large. On the Lake Eland Game Reserve Facebook page, park staff and visitors speculated as to what the snake may have swallowed for dinner, suggesting everything from a small warthog to a baby impala to an errant child (that last one was posted as a joke). [See Images of the Engorged Python Dining on Porcupine]But on Saturday, June 20, park rangers found the python dead near the bike trail. They decided to cut it open and have a look inside. What they found was one heck of a snack: a 30-lb. (13.8 kilograms) porcupine.It isn’t unusual for pythons to eat porcupines, Fuller told Live Science in an email. In fact, many species of snakes eat porcupines and other horned or quilled animals, according to a study published in 2003 in the Phyllomedusa Journal of Herpetology. And while a 30-lb. meal might sound like too much to digest, it isn’t if you’re a python.As Fuller noted, pythons in the Lake Eland Game Reserve have been spotted consuming even larger prey, including adult oribi antelope, which can weigh nearly 50 lbs. (22.7 kg). Pythons possess the incredible ability to alter their metabolism, as well as the size of their organs, after a meal. This allows the a python to digest prey that is much larger than the snake is, according to a study published in 2013 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Python Eats Porcupine, Regrets It Later (Here’s Why)It still isn’t clear if this python’s spiky meal was actually responsible for the predator’s death. Rangers found the snake underneath a rocky ledge, where it had apparently fallen. On impact, the quills inside its engorged belly may have pierced the python’s digestive tract, which could have killed the animal, Fuller said.In the 2003 study, entitled „Prickly food: snakes preying upon porcupines,” researchers found that when a snake eats a porcupine, the animal’s quills are left undigested and are easily detectable in the snake’s gut. Sometimes, the quills will even pierce all the way through the snake’s body, according to the study. But there’s no word yet on whether this particular snake died because it was pierced by quills or because it fell off a ledge (or because it was pierced by quills as a result of falling off the ledge), Fuller told the Australian news website News.com.Rangers at the reserve stripped off the python’s skin after removing the porcupine from the predator’s digestive track. They also took measurements of the snake’s massive body, which was 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) long. Special attention was paid to the animal’s head, which features a highly flexible jaw that allows the animal to open its mouth wide to swallow prey whole.Despite popular belief, a python’s jaw does not actually dislocate when the snake is eating. The two lower jaws move independently of one another, and the quadrate bone at the back of the head attaches the jaw loosely to the skull, allowing the jaw to move around freely.Follow Elizabeth Palermo @techEpalermo. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook &Google+. Original article on Live Science.Beastly Academy Awards: Stars of the Animal Kingdom; Image Gallery: Snakes of the World ;Photos: Giant Pythons Invade Everglades