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Wildfires persist in California

© Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC
Several fires are currently raging in central and northern California. These fires can be seen in this natural-color Terra satellite image taken by the MODIS instrument on August 18, 2013.

The American wildfire began August 10, 2013 and the cause of the fire is still under investigation. To date over 13,000 acres have been affected. The growth potential for this fire is high due to terrain and weather patterns. Thunderstorms predicted over the next few days may bring additional complexity and increase the potential for new starts. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning beginning today, through Wednesday evening, August 21. Changing weather patterns are likely to affect fire behavior and smoke dispersal patterns.

The Swedes Fire began on August 17, 2013 and grew to 1,995 acres Sunday, where it now stands. Firefighters have contained 45 percent of the blaze. The goal is to have the fire fully contained by Thursday the 22nd. Winds are erratic and change frequently, which is dangerous for residents in the area because the fire can move quickly in unexpected directions.


To do or not to do: Obama administration quietly suspends military aid to Egypt, mulls 'coup' - report

Egyptian soldiers
Egyptian soldiers walk amid the remains of the destroyed camp of ousted Mohammed Morsi supporters outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.
Top US lawmakers have quietly agreed to temporarily suspend most military aid to Egypt, indicating that behind the scenes Washington is starting to treat the military's ouster of President Morsi as a coup, according to a new report.

The Obama administration has temporarily halted the delivery of weapons to the Egyptian military as well as some forms of economic aid to the government, despite deciding not to officially describe the military takeover as a coup. The office of Senator Patrick Leahy, the head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, told The Daily Beast on Monday that the administration has implemented these changes over the past month as it formulates an official determination on the coup.

Comment: When it comes to enemies of the US, condemnation from the US comes within minutes and no technicalities of language is needed. We are now 7 weeks after the coup in Egypt and the US is still using soft language such as calling for restraint and seeking for a political solution, while pondering if it really could be a called a coup.

Bizarro Earth

'Angry' Idaho fire spreads to 126,000 acres, threatens luxury resort homes

More than 10,000 homes are threatened by a furious Idaho wildfire, including getaways owned by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis, after an all-out "ground and air attack" failed to stop the blaze spreading to more than 126,000 acres, according to latest reports from the U.S. Forest Service. "Take your essentials, belongs and pets and GO NOW," a news release on inciweb warned those in the path of the lightning-sparked Beaver Creek fire. Despite an army of more than 1,200 firefighters, the blaze continues to spread across parched sagebrush, grasslands and pine forests in the Sun Valley area. "Every fire has a personality, and this fire has an angry personality," Beth Lund, and incident commander with the U.S. Forest Service team managing the blaze in central Idaho told Reuters.

More than 10,000 homes near the towns of Hailey and Ketchum remain threatened by the blaze, including luxury getaways owned by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis. The fire that has been burning for more than 12 days, scorching an area larger than the city of Denver, has already forced 2,250 homes into a mandatory evacuation order. Another 7,700 homes are under what is known as pre-evacuation, giving them time to pack up essential belongings and get ready to go at a moment's notice if the fire grows closer.


Why so many wildfires? Half of U.S. is a hot, bone-dry burn zone

© John McColgan, BLM
Famous Bitterroot Valley Wildfire Photo
Did you know that 8 of the 9 worst years for wildfires ever recorded have all been since the year 2000? The western half of the United States just keeps getting hotter and drier, and this is creating ideal conditions for wildfires. The furious wildfire that took the lives of 19 brave firefighters in Yarnell, Arizona on Sunday is just one example of this. That wildfire has already consumed more than 200 buildings in the town of Yarnell, and it now spans nearly 9,000 acres even though more than 400 firefighters are battling it. High winds, record setting heat and bone dry conditions have created a "perfect storm" that firefighters are having a very difficult time contending with. Unfortunately, scientists tell us that things may continue to get even worse for the western half of the country. Most of the territory between the Mississippi River and the west coast seems to be steadily getting drier, and that means it is rapidly being transformed into an intensely hot, bone dry burn zone.

Comment: Drought is certainly one factor, but then, what's causing the extreme drought?

Reign of Fire: Meteorites, Wildfires, Planetary Chaos and the Sixth Extinction


Wildfires heat up the Arctic as climate change frazzles the north of Siberia

'The fires are burning in an unusual area. Most summer wildfires in Siberia occur south of the 57 degrees North latitude line, along the southern edge of the taiga. The July 2013 fires are significantly north of that, raging in woodlands near the 65 degrees North line'.
This unique summer for Northern Siberians brings Mediterranean temperatures but also 'out of control' blazes. Norilsk - one of Russia's coldest cities - basked in temperatures of 33C, as locals stripped off to catch a genuine Arctic tan, as we reported earlier.

As NASA noted, the cause was a 'blocking high' - a persistent high pressure weather pattern over the Russian Arctic.

For a few glorious summer days, the temperatures doubled from an average of 16C, but this also dried the land and led to wildfires, for example in the mainly Arctic autonomous district of Yamal-Nenets.

'The fires are burning in an unusual area. Most summer wildfires in Siberia occur south of the 57 degrees North latitude line, along the southern edge of the taiga. The July 2013 fires are significantly north of that, raging in woodlands near the 65 degrees North line,' said one report.

'High temperatures play an important role in promoting wildfires.

'Warm fuels burn more readily than cooler fuels because less energy is required to raise their temperature to the point of ignition. With temperatures soaring in northern Russia, it was easier for previously active fires to continue burning and for lightning to spark new ones.'

Bizarro Earth

Three injured, hundreds evacuated as Southern California wildfire rages

© 10news.com
A wind-whipped California wildfire that doubled in size overnight torched 15 buildings east of Los Angeles, injured at least five people and forced the evacuation of 500 homes in about half a dozen small communities, authorities said on Thursday.

The fire broke out on Wednesday near a back-country road in Riverside County, and by early Thursday had blackened more than 10,000 acres, the Riverside County Fire Department said on its website.

Four firefighters and one civilian have been hurt in the blaze, which is raging through tinder-dry brush and is just ten percent contained. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

Vista Grande, Mount Edna, Poppet Flats, Twin Pines and Silent Valley were among several communities under mandatory evacuation orders as the fire burned toward Cabazon, a city of 2,500 residents about 20 miles west of Palm Springs.

"The dry conditions right now that we are seeing are allowing the fire to burn very quickly, then you add the gusting winds ... and it is pushing the fire further and further to the east," California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlandt said.


Fires in Idaho

© Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC
Forest fires continue to plague the hot, dry western part of the United States this summer. In Idaho, several fires were spotted by NASA's Aqua satellite on July 20, 2013. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS's thermal bands, are outlined in red.

The Lodgepole Fire was detected at noon on Saturday, July 20. Local fire resources were dispatched to the scene where aggressive fire suppression efforts were put into place. The fire is currently burning in lodge pole pine and dispersed Douglas fir. Currently 650 acres have burned and the cause of this fire is under investigation.

The 3,060 acre Ridge Fire has been burning since July 18, the result of a lightning strike. It is currently 7% contained. Fire crews are being helicoptered into the remote, steep location to fight the fire.


Heatwave: city centre road melts and wildfires blaze across Britain

With wildfires spreading across the country and even some roads melting, the death toll from Britain's heatwave continues to rise.

A 15-year-old boy is thought to have drowned in a river in the latest heatwave water death.

The teenager was airlifted to hospital after the incident in Roe Valley Country Park near Limavady, Northern Ireland, yesterday afternoon, but died in hospital.

It takes the death toll of water-related deaths to 14 since Britain's longest heatwave for seven years began.

According to Public Health England, 650 people died in the hot weather from July 6 to July 14, with more deaths likely to have added to that tally in recent days.


Electrical storm causes fire in Almeria province, Spain

electrical storm almeria
A violent electrical storm was the cause of a bush fire this morning in the province of Almeria. Fire planes have been working since dawn to extinguish six points of fire that are still burning being fanned by strong winds in the area.

The zone affected is scrubland with little vegetation and quite a distance from the nearest populated area in the Huercal-Overa region.

Javier Madrid who is co-ordinating the work by INFOCA said that there was no risk to homes or people but that some families had been evacuated as a safety precaution.

According to the authorities, last night's storm caused over 2,000 lightening strikes which set off three major fires in Turre, Mojacar and Huercal Overa.

Bizarro Earth

Largest Nevada fires still growing near Vegas, Reno

Fire crews worked Tuesday to stop two large Nevada wildfires advancing through rugged mountain areas, including one that billowed smoke visible from downtown Las Vegas and another southwest of Reno, while administrators added resources and began looking to the weather to help contain flames.

Fifty firefighters were added to the lines on the Carpenter 1 Fire on Mount Charleston northwest of Las Vegas, bringing to more than 800 the number of personnel battling a blaze identified as the top priority in the West, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jay Nichols said.
© Steve Marcus
Smoke from the Mount Charleston wildfire is shown against the mountains in this view looking north on Rainbow Boulevard at sunset Monday, July 8, 2013.
"We've got a fire running from 11,000 feet to about 5,000 feet," Nichols said of the elevation of the blaze sparked by lightning July 1 and still just 15 percent contained eight days later. He said some of the increase in the fire size was due to backfires set to burn forest fuel and protect homes.

The fire area of almost 31 square miles was nearly the size of Manhattan. It charred pinion, juniper and bristlecone pine forest in steep territory and crept to within about a mile about 400 homes in mountain hamlets. More than 500 residents and another 98 teenagers at a youth correctional camp remained evacuated since the weekend. State highways into the area are closed.