‘No more’: Trump says he’ll cut off federal funds to fight California wildfires by John Bacon, USA TODAY•Firefighters battle dangerous Ventura Co. wildfire President Donald Trump said Sunday that he wants to cut off federal funds to fight wildfires raging across California, tweeting that Gov. Gavin Newsom should „get his act together” and properly manage the state’s forests.Trump, in a series of tweets, lauded the efforts of firefighters but accused Newsom of catering to environmentalists instead of focusing on fire deterrence. He said he previously warned Newsom that the state must “clean” forest floors of incendiary debris.”Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help,” Trump said. „No more. Get your act together Governor. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states.”Newsom responded on Twitter that, since Trump does not believe in climate change, he is „excused from this conversation.” The federal government owns more than half of California’s forest land while most of the rest is privately owned. The state owns about 3%. Newsom issued a statement saying the U.S. Forest Service has twice this year reduced its forest management targets on its land in the state. Trump’s 2020 budget calls for more cuts in the hazardous fuels reduction account, Newsom added.Last month, the governor signed a series of bills aimed at improving California’s wildfire prevention, mitigation and response efforts.“We’re successfully waging war against thousands of fires started across the state in the last few weeks due to extreme weather created by climate change,” Newsom said, „while Trump is conducting a full on assault against the antidotes.”Trump has threatened to cut off firefighting funds before. In January he tweeted that “billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”Newsom responded then that he was working to modernize forest management, adding that „disasters and recovery are no time for politics.”
The latest social media storm came as state officials reported that a fire burning through 15 square miles of farmland outside Los Angeles was 50% contained Sunday but still threatened 2,500 homes and buildings, authorities said.
All evacuations orders were lifted, the Cal Fires San Luis Obispo unit said.
The Maria Fire began burning Thursday, minutes after a transmission line in the area had been returned to service, Southern California Edison reported. The cause of the fire, however, remained under investigation Sunday.
„Firefighters continued to patrol the fire perimeter, extinguishing any hot spots,” Cal Fire said.
The blaze was the latest in a series of fires that have swept across the state in recent weeks, fueled by drought-stricken brush, low humidity and high winds. The winds have eased in recent days, allowing firefighters to gain control of the blazes and utilities to end preemptive power outages to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.
Southern California Edison said it had restored power to all but a handful of customers. In Los Angeles County, the Getty Fire that destroyed 10 homes and damaged 15 more was 79% controlled. And all evacuation orders have been lifted for the Easy Fire in Ventura County that had threatened the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
In Northern California, the Kincade Fire that had torched almost 100 square miles in Sonoma County was 76% contained Sunday, Cal Fire said. Pacific Gas & Electric crews were working to restore power to the town of Healdsburg, where flames last week tore through the historic Soda Rock Winery.
Cal Fire said the main building, dating back 150 years, was a „complete loss.” A 100-year-old barn survived the blaze. So apparently, did the winery.
„What happened to the winery was tragic and heartbreaking,” owners Ken and Diane Wilson said on social media. „But our community and our company is strong. We are survivors, and we are going to move forward. Everyone in Sonoma County was tested in the past 10 days – and we’ve proven we are resourceful and resilient. Soda Rock honors that resiliency today.
„Come on out and taste at the barn.”
Soda Rock was the original site of the Sonoma’s Alexander Valley general store and post office „and was once the central hub of activity for the valley,” the winery’s website explains. The first bonded winery was located on the property in 1880.
The Wilsons purchased the property in 2000. The local landmark had fallen into serious disrepair, but the couple launched a long-term restoration plan.
“Where do we go from here. It feels like such a big undertaking. I think we have to rebuild,” Diane Wilson told The Press Democrat. „I think we owe it to Alexander Valley not to leave it like this.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California wildfires: Trump threatens to cut funding to fight fires
‘If you fly, we can’t!’ Firefighters warn drone hobbyists by Adriana Navarro•After the one moment it took to spot a drone, the flames of the Maria Fire burned at the doorstep of an unincorporated town outside of Santa Paula, California, unhindered from the air for 30 to 45 minutes. In that time, the firefighters on the ground were without crucial support.”Air resources do a huge benefit to firefighters because flames can get too big and too hot. You can’t get in there, whereas our air resources can get in there and help cool it down for us to get in. So they’re a tremendous support in domestic fires,” Ventura County Fire Department Public Information Officer Captain Bryan McGrath said.The helicopters or planes brought in as air resources provide large amounts of water or flame retardant, often used to get to inaccessible areas quickly or even ahead of the fire. From the air, they are able to reach areas and fight fires where it would otherwise be dangerous for ground efforts. These valuable resources can be grounded by just a sighting of a drone.
|An air tanker drops retardant as the Maria Fire approaches Santa Paula, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. According to Ventura County Fire Department, the blaze has scorched more than 8,000 acres and destroyed at least two structures. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)|
„When a drone gets in the air, we have to ground our air resources because of a multitude of problems,” McGrath said. „When a drone is flying, the helicopter pilot can’t see it. So now if that drone hits that helicopter, the beset scenario is the helicopter lands and they do a mechanical check of it.”The worst case scenario, McGarth said, is the drone and the helicopter or plane crash into each other, seriously injuring someone or worse.In 2015, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection pilot had a near miss with a four-rotor drone, which had come as close as 10 feet from the windshield of his helicopter. With seven firefighters aboard with him, he made a hard left about 500 feet above the ground.”If that drone came through my windshield, I have no idea what could have happened,” Jason Thrasher told the Associated Press in a phone interview. „If that drone hits my tail rotor, for sure it’s going to be catastrophic.”
|FILE – This public service announcement provided by the U.S. Forest Service shows a poster warning people not to fly drones near wildfires. The U.S. Department of the Interior says it’s working with drone makers and mapping companies to create a system allowing smartphones to quickly update no-fly zones at wildfires. (U.S. Forest Service via AP, File)|
„We take it very seriously when one of the drones is in the air. We don’t fly. It’s too dangerous,” McGrath said. „It’s not worth the pilot’s life or the firefighters’ lives on the ground to fly around any kind of drone.”The Maria Fire started on Thursday, Oct. 31, just before 9 p.m. PDT. That night, there were two drone sightings, resulting in the grounding of air support, according to McGrath.The air resources during the start of the Maria Fire had been called to an unincorporated town in a portion of Santa Paula. After the sighting, the pilots were called and grounded, waiting for the all clear. The firefighters on the ground were faced with holding the fire back from the town and homes without the crucial support they needed. As the minutes drudged on, the fire continued to burn.”The helicopters had to land from 30 to 45 minutes, so that’s 30 to 45 minutes of no water being dropped or overhead viewing of the fire, which is crucial in firefighters being able to know where the fire is and what it’s doing,” McGrath said.Luckily, there was no structural damage in that time around the area.The Ventura County Fire Department PIO account had two posts on its page on prohibiting drones in fire zones after the start of the Maria Fire.”Even a tiny drone can cause a serious or fatal accident if it collides with firefighting aircraft. In most situations, if drones are spotted near a fire, firefighting aircraft must land for safety concerns and firefighters cannot do their job. If you fly, we can’t!” one post says.According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there have been at least 20 public drone incursions in 2019, shutting down aerial firefighting efforts at least nine times across six states. Before the Maria Fire, three of those times had been in California.
According to U.S. law, it’s prohibited to resist or interfere with the „efforts of firefighter(s) to extinguish a fire.””All fires are no drone zones – flying a hobbyist drone over a fire puts everyone at risk and hinders firefighting suppression efforts,” according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Management. „If you fly – we must ground all aircraft, including the large air tankers due to the dangerous conditions drones pose in unauthorized airspace.”
Bordeaux (AFP) – Storm winds blasted southern France Sunday, whipping up giant ocean waves, uprooting trees and leaving some 140,000 people without electricity, authorities said.
Emergency services attended hundreds of call-outs as storm Amelie brought gusts that dropped trees on roads and railway tracks and tore loose live electrical cables.
No deaths have been confirmed, but a woman in her seventies was reported missing in southern Nice after a landslide.
Emergency workers were searching the landslip on land overlooking her home to try to find the missing woman, an AFP journalist witnessed.
In the southwest, which was worst affected, six people sustained minor injuries, mainly caused by falling branches.
Early Sunday, 14 of the country’s 100-odd departments had been placed on high alert as Amelie brought heavy rains to the Atlantic coast, with winds exceeding 160 kilometres (100 miles) per hour in places.
Weather service Meteo France said winds as strong as 163 km/h (100 mph) were recorded in the coastal departments of Gironde and Landes, and 121 km/h in Bordeaux.
Electricity supplier Enedis said it was working round the clock to restore electricity to some 140,000 customers left without power for hours.
In the Landes department 47 people had to be evacuated from a camp site, and a casino roof collapsed.
Several trains in the area were cancelled or delayed, after around 50 trees came down on the lines, said the rail operator SNCF.
The southeast was not spared, with heavy rainfall forcing the evacuation of a travellers’ camp.
Around 30 motorists also had to be rescued as their cars got stuck in the deluge and several shops and homes had their basements flooded.
The extreme weather forced the temporary closure of both the A7 and A21 motorways in the south of the country.
Two flights were cancelled Sunday morning from Ajaccio, on Corsica, while other flights were rerouted to the island’s other airport at Bastia.