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Tue, 25 Oct 2016
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25 square miles and 5 homes lost to wildfire in Custer County, Colorado

The Junkins fire grew rapidly Monday in southern Colorado, forcing more than 175 homes to evacuate.
Authorities say a wildfire in southern Colorado has destroyed five homes and hundreds of people remain under evacuation orders.

The Pueblo County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday the fire had scorched more than 25 square miles.

The sheriff's department says the fire started when high winds blew a metal outbuilding into a power line.

In addition to the homes, 13 outbuildings have been destroyed.

Crews were trying to block the flames with fire lines, but authorities said the blaze was still uncontained Tuesday night.

Custer County has declared the fire a local emergency, and the Colorado Office of Emergency Management is trying to secure a verbal declaration of disaster from the governor's office, which will provide funding and help from the Colorado National Guard.


Prairie fire scorches 48 square miles and kills scores of cattle east of Rapid City, South Dakota

© Chris Huber
A massive prairie fire that consumed an estimated 48 square miles of private and public ranch lands east of Rapid City — and which was mostly contained but still burning on Monday — led to the loss of ranch outbuildings, caused a pair of interstate traffic wrecks, killed at least 135 head of cattle and consumed untold amounts of grasslands by Monday afternoon.

The blaze, called the Cottonwood Fire, began around 1 p.m. Sunday and was initially battled by 300 firefighting personnel. The fire caused smoky skies and upset ranching activities across a wide swath of land about 75 miles east of Rapid City in an area between Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 14.

No one had been injured by the fire or while battling it as of late Monday; the fire was reportedly 75 percent contained by 4 p.m. Monday, and potential rain in the area Monday night might help the firefighting cause.

Officials located the fire's point of origin and an investigator confirmed Monday that the fire was human-caused, but no specific cause was announced as the investigation continues, said Rapid City Fire Department Lt. Jim Bussell.

Sunday's fire-ripe combination of unseasonably high temperatures, low humidity and winds gusting as high as 50 mph pushed flames swiftly across the prairie, scorching most everything in its path.

"Under these conditions, the fire spread quickly," Bussell said in a Monday news briefing.

The fire scorched an estimated 48 square miles of private land and part of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland, southeast of Cottonwood and north of I-90.

Arrow Up

Charity calls on DiCaprio to step down from UN climate change role

© Olivier Marteau on Twitter
A rainforest charity calls on the star to either denounce his connection to individuals involved in a Malaysian corruption scandal and return laundered money he allegedly received or give up his role.

In perhaps the biggest attack on Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental credibility, a rainforest charity on Friday called on the actor to give up his title as UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change.

At a press conference in London, the Bruno Manser Funds offered DiCaprio an ultimatum: either he renounce his connections to the "politically exposed persons" at the center of the multi-billion dollar 1MDB Malaysian corruption scandal now being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and return corrupt money he allegedly received or resign from the position he was given by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon in 2014.

"If DiCaprio is unwilling to come clean, we ask him to step down as UN Messenger for Peace for climate change, because he simply lacks the credibility for such an important role," said Lukas Straumann, director of the Switzerland-based charity, which has a particular focus on deforestation in Malaysia.

DiCaprio is alleged to have received millions of dollars diverted from the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund for his role as star and producer of The Wolf of Wall Street, alleged by the DOJ to have been funded by stolen Malaysian money and produced by Red Granite, co-founded by Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister and a major figure in a DOJ filing. He is also alleged to have received laundered 1MDB money for his charity, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, from his former close associate Jho Low, the controversial Malaysian businessman at the heart of the scandal.


22 homes destroyed and hundreds evacuated in northern Nevada wildfire

© Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee
Hand crews finish up work on the Emerald Fire along Highway 89, Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 near Lake Tahoe, Nev.
A trio of wind-whipped wildfires burning along the Sierra Nevada on Friday destroyed 22 homes north of Carson City, forced hundreds of evacuations at Lake Tahoe and temporarily closed a major highway connecting Reno to the mountain lake.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval declared a state of emergency as hundreds of firefighters battled the most dangerous fire, which is still threatening hundreds of structures in the Washoe Valley along Interstate 580 and U.S. Highway 395 between Reno and Carson City.

No serious injuries have been reported but four firefighters have been treated for smoke inhalation, said Tia Rancourt, spokeswoman for the Sierra Front Interagency Fire Dispatch Center.

The wildland blaze that continued to burn out of control Friday night has charred about 3 square miles of brush and timber. It forced the closures of numerous schools and roads, and triggered widespread power outages.

Federal disaster funds were approved late Friday to help cover firefighting costs in the parched area that has only recently shown signs of recovering from a five-year drought

About 500 firefighters were on the scene Friday night at the so-called Little Valley fire, which broke out about 1:30 a.m. in the mountains between Lake Tahoe and Washoe Valley about 8 miles north of Carson City.


Wildfire rages through Santa Cruz mountains in California

© twitter/scott balentine (screen capture)
The Loma fire has consumed more than 2,000 acres and forced evacuations in Santa Clara County, Calif.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes due to a wildfire near Loma Prieta in the Santa Cruz mountains that grew to more than 2,000 acres. On Tuesday, the fire was just 5 percent contained.

Dramatic photos of the fire appeared on social media as 500 firefighters battled the blaze.


Yellowstone National Park has biggest fire season since 1988

© Tannen Maury/AP
More acres of Yellowstone National Park have burned this year than in any other since 1988, the park announced Thursday.

As of Wednesday, 22 fires had scorched more than 62,000 acres in the park, which is the highest since the historic 1988 season, when about 800,000 acres burned. In an average year, the park experiences 26 fires.

Four of this year's blazes — the Maple, Buffalo, Fawn and Central fires — accounted for much of the damage. The Maple Fire alone, the largest of the four, has burned more than 45,000 acres. The Boundary Fire was suppressed at 192 acres, and the other 17 together totaled just 14.18 acres.

Not all fires at the nation's first national park are treated in the same way. Officials work to shield human life and developed areas, such as roads, buildings and other infrastructure, from damage. But fires that don't threaten human life or infrastructure are allowed to burn as much as possible to carry out their ecological role on the landscape. This year, according to the release, 11 blazes were suppressed immediately.

Comment: A study last year showed that wildfire seasons are more destructive and lasting longer almost everywhere on Earth.

Could a significant factor in the escalation of these events be that they are fueled from outgassing, then possibly 'sparked' by an increase in atmospheric electric discharge events, such as lightning strikes and other 'cosmic' ignition sources?


Third wildfire blazes around Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

© Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire

Vandenberg Air Force Base now has three fires burning, with a new start Friday afternoon.
Aircraft, engine crews, and bulldozers are responding to a third wildfire on Vandenberg Air Force Base property, this time in Oak Canyon, north of the Federal Correctional Institution, Lompoc (FCI Lompoc). Reported at 1:20 p.m., the fire is approximately 30 acres and spreading southward, according to base officials. Crews with the base's fire department are working in conjunction with Lompoc and Santa Barbara County fire departments.

Base officials reported this morning that the 215-acre Washington Fire, burning vegetation on North Base, experienced "minimal activity overnight [and] is under control," according to a statement. The Washington Fire started on Thursday afternoon, reportedly by a power line downed by strong seasonal gusts out of the northwest, forcing the evacuation of several buildings. There have been no reports of damaged structures.

At the same time, about 10 miles away, firefighting crews were closing in on the Canyon Fire, a wildland blaze on South Base that started on September 17. This morning, base officials reported that the 12,500-acre wildfire was 90-percent contained. Its cause has not been released and remains under investigation.


California tree die-offs causing wildfires and habitat destruction

© thedianerehmshow.org
The Sierra Nevada and North Coast forests of California are suffering as millions of dead and dying trees have rapidly become a massive fire risk.

Since 2010 and the beginning of the California drought, the number of dead trees in the central and southern Sierra Nevada has reached a conservative 66 million by some estimates. According to scientists, there are several factors at play causing the devastation of the forests and contributing to an increasingly dire fire hazard.

The intense ongoing drought in California is contributing to the Sierra Nevada forest deadfall. Also, global warming has led to warmer winters that no longer balance a growing bark beetle population devastating conifers in the mountains. Finishing the job, fungi and a foreign-borne plant pathogen brought to California through global trade are affecting moist areas where oaks and other deciduous trees grow. The human factor worsens the situation as a lack of forest management, especially in the clearing of combustible dead wood, has exacerbated an already gloomy forecast.


Wildfires rage on Spain's Costa Blanca; 1,400 evacuated

© AFP/Getty Images
Emergency crews ordered a mass evacuation after a wildfire fuelled by intense heat roared through brush surrounding Javea, a popular tourist resort on Spain's Costa Blanca
Some 1,400 people were evacuated after a wildfire fuelled by intense heat roared through brush surrounding a popular tourist resort on Spain's Costa Blanca, officials said Monday.

The blaze which broke out on Sunday near the Mediterranean resort of Javea, up the coast from the popular holiday spot of Benidorm, destroyed 320 hectares (790 acres) of land and several buildings, local emergency services said.

Authorities said they believe the fire was started deliberately since it appeared to have broken out in several places at once.

"This is environmental terrorism, it goes beyond putting at risk our natural heritage, it directly attacks people," the head of the regional government of Valencia, Ximo Puig, told reporters.

Comment: Not necessarily. Fires can erupt simultaneously and non-locally.

"1,400 evacuated," tweeted Juan Carlos Moragues, who represents the Spanish government in the eastern region of Valencia.


Central Idaho wildfire increases by 45 square miles; now up to 220 square miles

A central Idaho wildfire fanned by strong winds expanded 45 square miles Tuesday, burning through timber in remote and mountainous terrain.

Officials say the active part of the fire that's now up to 220 square miles is burning far from critical infrastructure, but some low-level evacuations remain for some areas of the sparsely populated region.

Officials say they expect the fire to continue moving north and northeast and into burn scars from previous fires that could slow its advance.

About 1,200 firefighters are at the blaze that started July 18 for unknown reason.

Officials have said a rain or snow event will be needed to put the fire out, and the estimated containment date of the fire is mid-October.

Source: Associated Press