WILDFIRE FORCES EVACUATION OF 70,000 IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
A fast-moving wildfire forced evacuation orders for 70,000 people and seriously injured two firefighters in Southern California as powerful winds across the state prompted power to be cut to hundreds of thousands to prevent utility equipment from sparking new blazes.
Two firefighters, one 26 and the other 31 years old, were critically injured while battling the blaze, according to the county’s Fire Authority, which didn’t provide details on how the injuries occurred. They each suffered second- and third-degree burns over large portions of their bodies and were intubated at a hospital, officials said, Christopher Weber and Olga R. Rodriguez reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Scientists have said climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable. October and November are traditionally the worst months for fires, but already this year 8,600 wildfires in the state have scorched a record 6,400 square miles (16,600 square kilometers) and destroyed about 9,200 homes, businesses and other buildings. There have been 31 deaths.
The electricity shutdowns marked the fifth time this year that Pacific Gas & Electric, the nation’s largest utility, has cut power to customers to reduce the risk of downed or fouled power lines or other equipment that could ignite blazes amid bone-dry weather conditions and gusty winds. The utility shut off power to about 355,000 customers in 34 Northern California counties but said that improved weather conditions allow it to prevent cutting electricity in two other central California counties.