U.S.Massive California fire sends smoke all the way to Idaho while choking Yosemite and Lake Tahoe Los Angeles Times Fri, Jul 21 2:20 PM PDTChurning columns of smoke from a massive Central Valley fire are creating a haunting landscape from Yosemite National Park to Lake Tahoe.The smoke plume extends north from Mariposa County into the Sierra and neighboring Nevada, according to the National Weather Service. It has traveled as far as Idaho, some 500 miles away.The Detwiler fire, which has forced more than 4,000 residents to flee, swelled to more than 70,000 acres Thursday and was 10% contained, according to Cal Fire. Officials said the fire was burning in an area littered with dead trees, killed by bark beetles and years of drought.Update: After an anxious four-day wait, wildfire evacuees return to Mariposa »The blaze has destroyed 99 structures, 50 of which were homes, according to Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean. Flames damaged an additional 11 houses, and about 1,500 structures were threatened. Evacuation orders were still in effect for Mariposa and the town of Coulterville.More than 3,700 firefighters tackled 2- to 4-foot flames and observed some flares up to 25 feet high, authorities said.View image on TwitterFollowNWS Hanford @NWSHanfordExperimental HRRR Smoke model indicating more smoke spreading southeast overnight into Tulare county. #DetwilerFire2:30 AM – 21 Jul 2017 Lake TahoeSmoke from the fire has reduced visibility and caused some dramatic sunsets that have been posted on soci FollowNate Helton @NateHeltonAll 5 cities in ‘Highest 5’ (worst air quality index) are in the Reno/Tahoe area. Smoke, go away! https://airnow.gov/ 9:52 PM – 19 Jul 2017Yosemite National ParkThe fire is burning on the western edge of Yosemite, and smoke is choking the surrounding valley.“It’s been putting off quite a bit of smoke; there’s a lot of stuff burning,” said James Andersen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford, Calif.“It was very, very tiny pieces of ash,” photographer Paul Adams said. “I want to call it almost like hair dandruff. Then, when I went to Mariposa, the ash that was falling was about the size of a snowflake, more pronounced.” FollowABC News @ABCTime-lapse video shows some of Yosemite National Park’s iconic landmarks shrouded in smoke from massive wildfire. http://abcn.ws/2vp4jtE View image on Twitter FollowMark Grossi @markgrossiView of smoke from Detwiler #wildfire near #Yosemite. FollowRob Mayeda @RobMayedaLate day surge of smoke from the #DetwilerFire into Yosemite 7/20/2017 captured on #GOES16 and local webcameras #CAwx#CAFireMariposa County wildfire guts nearly five dozen homes as flames scorch thousands of acres
Evacuation orders lifted but California wildfire rages on
Major California wildfire slows as residents try to recover ROBERT JABLON,Associated Press 3 hours ago 1:062:151:511:293:162:11Raw: Over 3,000 Firefighters Battle Calif. Blaze LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve Valdez was back at work Saturday at a hardware store, days after his home and those of his neighbors were incinerated in a gigantic wildfire that swept through a rural area of California near Yosemite National Park.”This is a hardware store in a small town. There are people out there who depend upon us to get power, to get water, to get their equipment fixed,” said Valdez, a clerk at Coast Hardware Do It Best in Mariposa. „They’re getting stuff to get by.”The aggressive wildfire sweeping through the Sierra Nevada foothills covered with dense brush and dead trees has destroyed 60 homes and 64 other buildings. It spared Mariposa, a historic Gold Rush-era town but burned homes nearby.The blaze that erupted on July 16 scorched nearly 118 square miles (305 sq. kilometers) of trees and grass and continued to threaten about 1,500 homes, but its spread had slowed drastically.”They are still out in front of an uncontrolled fire but the fire isn’t moving at 30 mph, the fire is crawling along,” fire spokesman Brandon Vaccaro said.Nearly 4,500 firefighters, air tankers and fleets of helicopters and bulldozers fought the blaze by chopping firebreaks and dumping rivers of water and fire retardant.The blaze fed on long grass that sprouted from a wet winter along with brush that had been stricken by five years of drought and trees killed off by a beetle infestation.In some places, the flames were so fierce that „every bit of vegetation is gone and you’re down to the scorched earth,” Vaccaro said.The fire grew by up to 30,000 acres a day at its peak, but by the weekend the growth rate was down to about 1,000 acres a day despite dry, blistering weather, he said.The blaze, moving northeast, was 40 percent contained but it could take another two weeks for firefighters to fully surround it, Vaccaro said.The smoke blurred the scenic vistas of Yosemite National Park, about 35 miles west of the fire. Tourists expecting the grandeur of falls and granite peaks instead saw hazy gray silhouettes.Ken Welsh, 60, of New Zealand said he had been prepared to be „blown away by a Technicolor dream” at Yosemite.He shrugged his shoulders and headed back to the car.”It leaves a lot to the imagination, doesn’t it?” he told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/2tQ3Crt).At its peak, the blaze forced about 5,000 people to evacuate. Some roads remained closed but Mariposa, with a population of about 2,000, was coming back to life.People were coming into the hardware store for plumbing parts and electrical cords a day after evacuations were lifted.Valdez said he decided to work even though his 4,400-square-foot home was among those destroyed.”Older people know that everything heals,” said Valdez, 60. „Everything gets better if you just keep plugging away.”Valdez and his wife had 20 minutes to grab a few photographs, bills and some family Bibles before they fled the encroaching flames. For a couple of days, they lived in their car and truck with the windows rolled up because ash was falling like snow, he said.Valdez finally managed to return briefly to his neighborhood to find — nothing. His home of 17 years was gone, except for the fireplace. Five other houses also were destroyed.”There’s nothing that’s going to be left,” he said. His cat is missing but may have just run off, he said.Valdez was philosophical. The insurance company quickly stepped in and he plans to rebuild. Senior citizens on limited incomes and those without insurance are far worse off, he said.At his age, Valdez added, he has learned to cope with hardship.”There are young people who are … mentally destroyed,” he said. „Those people are the people to feel sorry for.”The fire was one of more than a dozen that have ravaged California in recent weeks
U.S.3,500-acre forest fire fully contained in New Jersey
Severe storms on the move in the Midwest ABC News Videos 3 hours ago 2:242:571:512:552:363:492:05 Possible dangerous storms and flash flooding to hit the Midwest while the East Coast continues to suffer through a heat wave.
Hong Kong raises alert as Typhoon Roke approaches
View photos People gather at a waterfront as Typhoon Roke approaches Hong Kong, China July 23, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby YipHONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong was bracing on Sunday for Typhoon Roke with winds reaching 73 kmh (45 mph), forcing authorities to shut some services and events in the Asian financial hub, though the city’s international airport continued operating as usual.The Hong Kong Observatory on Sunday morning raised its typhoon signal to 8, one of its highest warnings which rate typhoons up to 10, as Roke was expected to make landfall over the eastern part of the city.When a typhoon 8 signal is in place businesses, government offices and schools stay closed, including banks, port operations and the Hong Kong stock exchange.A spokesman for Hong Kong international airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, said that the flights in and out of the city were operating normally for now, and authorities were keeping an eye on the situation.The local trains were also operating normally, but some bus and ferry services have been canceled, as per the announcements on the government websites. The annual book fair was temporarily closed due to the typhoon.(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Michael Perry)
Flood-hit New Zealand braces for more rainHuge waves lash Lyall Bay in the New Zealand capital Wellington on July 23, 2017 (AFP Photo/Neil Sands)Wellington (AFP) – Flood-hit regions of New Zealand were warned to expect more wild weather Sunday after a deluge forced evacuations and emergency declarations in parts of South Island.The military was called in to help as some towns experienced three times their average monthly rainfall in just two days, topping 250 millimetres (10 inches) near Dunedin.Rivers burst their banks and landslides closed major roads, with icy conditions creating treacherous conditions for clean-up crews.A state of emergency was in force for both Christchurch and Dunedin, with people in affected areas advised to avoid non-essential travel.”We don’t need rubberneckers… it’s not going to help anybody and it’s just going to upset people,” Dunedin mayor David Cull said.Around 200 homes were evacuated around Dunedin, with Cull saying it would be days before some residents could return home.In Christchurch, authorities warned more flooding was possible at high tide late Sunday afternoon.The New Zealand Defence Force deployed about 140 troops to help relief efforts, sandbagging vulnerable areas and using trucks to reach stranded motorists.The official MetService forecasting bureau said more severe weather was set to lash the South Island this week, with heavy rains on the west coast from Monday.It said flood-stricken regions would be hit again later in the week.”All eyes will be on the forecasts for Thursday, when another cold southerly rain event looks likely to affect Canterbury and much of the South Island,” it said.
Robot finds likely melted fuel heap inside Fukushima reactor ABC News 3 hours agoBy MARI YAMAGUCHI, ASSOCIATED PRESSThe Associated Pressmore +Images captured by an underwater robot showed massive deposits believed to be melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 1 meter (3 feet) on the bottom inside of a main structure called the pedestal that sits underneath the core inside the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor, said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.On Friday, the robot spotted suspected debris of melted fuel for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused multiple meltdowns and destroyed the plant. The three-day probe of Unit 3 ended Saturday.Locating and analyzing the fuel debris and damage in each of the plant’s three wrecked reactors is crucial for decommissioning the plant. The search for melted fuel in the two other reactors has so far been unsuccessful because of damage and extremely high radiation levels.During this week’s probe, cameras mounted on the robot showed extensive damage caused by the core meltdown, with fuel debris mixed with broken reactor parts, suggesting the difficult challenges ahead in the decades-long decommissioning of the destroyed plant.TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said it would take time to analyze the debris in the images to figure out debris removal methods.-Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at twitter.com/mariyamaguchi Her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/mari%20yamaguchi .
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