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Wed, 23 May 2018
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Catastrophic British Columbia wildfires captured by drone (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)

© BC Wildfire Service / Reuters
Wildfires are seen near 100 Mile House in British Columbia, July 7, 2017.
Destruction wreaked by wildfires in British Columbia, Canada, which forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, is captured in harrowing drone footage.

Destruction wreaked by wildfires in British Columbia, Canada, which forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, is captured in harrowing drone footage.

Comment: See also: Wildfires close in on Williams Lake, BC; thousands ordered to evacuate


Wildfires close in on Williams Lake, BC; thousands ordered to evacuate

Canada wildfire
© taramcconnery / Instagram
An entire city and surrounding areas in British Columbia were forced to evacuate as raging wildfires intensified by strong winds spread across the region.

An evacuation alert was issued for Williams Lake and surrounding areas in Cariboo Regional District on Saturday.

"All individuals in the City [Williams Lake] and the above areas must evacuate immediately," the order stated.

Around 12,000 people live in the city, and the same number of people in the surrounding areas were also ordered to evacuate, CBC Canada reported.


2017 Fire Season in Nevada is one of the worst in 15 years

Farad fire burning near Nevada-California state line

Farad fire burning near Nevada-California state line
The peak of fire season traditionally runs between mid-July and September, but wildfires have already burned nearly 250,000 acres more than the 15-year annual average. Since January, fires have burned 586,800 acres in Nevada. Since 2002, the average is 340,207 acres per year.

"Right now, it's hot, dry, and has been since the middle of June," John Christopherson, Natural Resource Program Manager for the Nevada Division of Forestry said. "So things are ready to ignite."

This year's total acreage is the fifth-most in the last 15 years, with a lot of time left. Christopherson says if this trend keeps up, fires could burn 1 million acres in Nevada this year. The last time that happened was in 2006, when more than 1.3 million acres burned. Fuel loads are double, and even triple what they normally are this year, thanks to an abundance of cheatgrass.

"It's not just the load, itself, or the volume of the fuel but it's also the continuity," Christopherson said. "They're pretty much continuous and so when something ignites, it goes big."


Tourists evacuated from Sicily as hundreds of wildfires rage across Italy

Sicily wildfire
© Italian Firefighters Vigili del Fuoco via AP
Woodland fires burn near a tourist resort where, according to firefighter reports, some several hundred tourists have been evacuated by land and sea, in the Sicilian town of San Vito lo Capo, southern Italy, on 12 July 2017.
At least 700 tourists in Sicily were the latest to be displaced by the hundreds of wildfires raging across Italy.

A threatening wildfire forced many of the tourists to flee the seaside resort of Calampiso, located on the northwestern tip of Sicily, by boat on Wednesday.

BBC News reports that around 700 tourists were evacuated, while The Local claims the figure is closer to 1,000.

Approximately 10 people sought medical care at the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Two people have been killed as a result of the fires, The Local reported. One man died while trying to extinguish a fire near his property in the Cosenza province. Another man was found dead in the Vibo Valentia province.


Mount Vesuvius volcano engulfed in smoke as wildfires rage along its slopes in southern Italy

Mount Vesuvius wildfire
© jey1895 / Instagram
A huge blaze has broken out on the slopes of Italy's Mount Vesuvius and near the city of Naples, prompting an evacuation of tourists and local residents for the second time in a week.

The huge pillars of smoke from fires raging through the forests on the slopes of Vesuvius rose to more than 2 kilometers up in the air and were also 2 kilometers wide at the top, AP reports. Clearly visible from Naples, the smoke deceived some people into believing that the volcano was erupting.


Video shows terrifying drive to escape British Colombia wildfire

British Colombia wildfire
© sebboco5 / Instagram
14,000 people have been evacuated in British Colombia.
Evacuees escaping wildfires that have spread across swathes of British Columbia filmed their journey as they drove through roads engulfed by flames. Some 14,000 people have been evacuated as 220 active wildfires rage in the province.

"Oh my goodness, I would go fast," says the passenger in a video uploaded to Twitter by Sally Aitken. Flames billow on the roadside and smoke fills the air as they drive away from Hanceville.

"We drove through this fire last night on Hwy 20 - terrifying! Tall flames on both sides, black smoke, zero visibility for 10km," Aitken said.

Comment: An evacuation alert was also issued for the more than 10,000 residents of Williams Lake last night, with municipal officials warning wind and lightning forecast for tomorrow could push fires towards the city at a "rapid pace."

Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, says gusty winds and hot, dry conditions are expected to persist throughout the province over the next several days, meaning fire crews will not get a reprieve from the weather. He added "this is verging on unprecedented".


Thousands forced to evacuate as wildfires rage in western US and Canada

wildfire Oroville CA July 2017
© AP / Noah Berger
Firefighters battle a wildfire as it threatens to jump a street near Oroville, Calif., on Saturday, July 8, 2017.
Wildfires barreled across the baking landscape of the western U.S. and Canada, destroying a smattering of homes, forcing thousands to flee and temporarily trapping children and counselors at a California campground.

Here's a look at the wildfires blackening the West.


Two major wildfires in California have sent nearly 8,000 people fleeing to safety.

About 4,000 people evacuated and another 7,400 were told to prepare to leave their homes as fire swept through grassy foothills in the Sierra Nevada, about 60 miles north of Sacramento, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Sunday.

Comment: See also:


Wildfires rage during California's record-breaking heatwave

© AFP Photo/Justin Sullivan
Frefighters train in June 2017 in California
The first major wildfires after the end of California's five-year drought raged across the state Saturday, as it was gripped by a record-breaking heatwave.

Some 3,000 firefighters were battling several blazes with triple-digit temperatures recorded in valleys and inland areas.

A wildfire in the Sierra Nevada foothills north of Sacramento was only two percent contained by early evening and had destroyed 10 homes, scorching 2,000 acres (800 hectares) of forest and sparking evacuations and road closures.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) said five residents and a firefighter had sustained minor injuries.

Meanwhile a blaze that forced evacuations in San Luis Obispo County tripled in size from Saturday morning to 19,000 acres by the evening. Fanned by hot, dry winds, it was just 10 percent contained, CalFire said.

Some 17 wildfires in various states of containment were burning in California Saturday, from the Six Rivers National Forest in the north to the San Bernardino Forest east of Los Angeles.

An excessive heat warning has been extended until 11:00 pm (0600 GMT) for much of southern California, with temperature records being broken across the region.

Comment: From RT:

The wildfires temporarily trapped at least 90 children and some 50 councilors at a local summer camp, Zaniboni said, adding that later the campers had been safely evacuated.

On Saturday, the blaze dubbed the Alamo Fire burned more than 23 square kilometers outside Santa Maria and remained 10 percent contained, Zaniboni added. The Santa Barbara blaze is one of three separate wildfires that have rocked California.

Some 300 residents were to evacuate Santa Barbara and neighboring San Luis Obispo County, AP reported.


B.C. Canada wildfires force province-wide state of emergency

Cache Creek Wildfire
© Darryl Dyck/CP
A wildfire burns on a mountain behind a home in Cache Creek early Saturday morning.
A province-wide state of emergency has been declared in British Columbia after dozens of new wildfires destroyed buildings and forced thousands of people from their homes.

More than 1,800 firefighters were fighting around 200 fires on Saturday, many of which are considered to be out of control. Another 260 firefighters were coming to help from across Canada.

Official province-wide evacuee numbers have not been released; however an estimated 6,000 people had been forced from their homes as of Saturday afternoon, according to the Cariboo Regional District.

Evacuation orders have been issued for the communities of:

Cache Creek
105 Mile House
108 Mile House
150 Mile House


Forest fire out of control in Chernobyl exclusion zone

© ScienceAGoGo
Radiation damage to microbes around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster has dramatically slowed the decomposition of fallen leaves and other plant matter creating a fire hazard due to wind-borne radioactivity.
A forest fire has erupted in the Chernobyl exclusion zone forests during tree cutting works, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. While a helicopter and two planes were dispatched to the site, the fire is still ongoing.
"At 12:35pm [local time] during technological tree cutting works in the exclusion and obligatory evacuation zone at the territory of Lubyanskoye Forestry, tree residue and the forest bed have caught fire. The fire spread out to an area of some 20 hectares," the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said in a statement.
The emergency service dispatched an Mi-8 helicopter with a water-spraying device and two AN-32P fire planes to the location to provide surveillance and combat the fire. At least 102 firemen and 22 fire engines arrived at the scene, while the Mi-8 dropped water on the fire five times. Despite their efforts, however, the fire even spread somewhat and at 6:29pm local time engulfed 25 hectares of the forest bed, as well as 0.5 hectares of the tree tops, according to the statement.

This is not the first wildfire to break out near the crippled Chernobyl nuclear power station. In 2015, forest and grass fires erupted in the exclusion zone several times with the worst one breaking out in May, when some 400 hectares of forests were engulfed in flames.

Several consecutive fires caused a significant increase in radiation in the exclusion zone. In July 2015, Ukrainian nuclear inspectors registered air contamination with cesium-137 near the settlement of Polesskoye in the Chernobyl zone, or approximately 10 times above permitted levels. Cesium-137 is one of the most dangerous radioactive elements, since it accumulates in the human body and can lead to leukemia.

Comment: According to a research study by the University of South Carolina and the University Paris-Sud in the contaminated area surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear facility, results suggest the rate of plant material decomposition changed after the meltdown. Radiated samples showed less leaf weight loss compared to non-radiated leaves, up to 40%, concluding bacteria and fungi are hindered by radioactive contamination. With reduced microbial decomposing activity, the forest brush and plant matter become a dangerous fire hazard with the ability to redistribute radioactive contamination, via smoke, into populated areas. Prior fires have seen plumes reach the US West Coast, crossing the plains and into Eastern Canada.