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United States Power

Wildfire Threatens Water and Power To San Francisco 159

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Retuers reports that firefighters are battling to gain control of a fast-moving wildfire raging on the edge of Yosemite National Park that is threatening power and water supplies to San Francisco, about 200 miles to the west. 'We are making progress but unfortunately the steep terrain definitely has posed a major challenge,' says Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 'Today we're continuing to see warm weather that could allow this fire to continue to grow very rapidly as it has over the last several days.' California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, warning that the fire had damaged the electrical infrastructure serving the city, and forced the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to shut down power lines. The blaze in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains is now the fastest-moving of 50 large wildfires raging across the drought-parched U.S. West that have strained resources and prompted fire managers to open talks with Pentagon commanders and Canadian officials about possible reinforcements. Firefighters have been hampered by a lack of moisture from the sky and on the ground. 'The wind today is going to be better for firefighting, but we are still dealing with bone dry grass and brush,' says Tina Rose, spokeswoman for the multi-agency incident command. 'This fire is very dynamic.'"
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Wildfire Threatens Water and Power To San Francisco

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  • Re:This is not... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @07:29PM (#44666347)

    It is less about money than the impossibility to stop a well fueled fire once it starts. The idea that all fires are bad and must be put out is a dangerous one. Slow burning fires that occur in wet seasons are actually good. They clear out underbrush so animals can find food and they keep the fuel down. Trees live just fine through these fires as their bark protects them. Some trees even need fire to open their cones and let the seeds out. Putting out every fire just lets the fuel build to the point that the next fire is impossible to put out. These fires get very hot and kill the trees. Forest management practices have changed to include controlled burns but they need to be done more often.

    It is impossible to stop all fires and some need to be left to burn so bigger fires do not happen later.

  • Re:This is not... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @07:55PM (#44666435)
    But changes in funding and laws have changed and allowed a record amount of fuel to accumulate. This was also made worse by the expanding footprint of mankind. We have towns and other installations all over the place, and most people don't want the burns and/or logging/clearing to occur near them. So it's just built up to record levels. Of course, the funding for all this hasn't kept pace, and has even been cut in various ways. (It's seems as though every time they get an increase in funding for this stuff, it gets yanked back pretty soon, with an additional cut to follow, but I don't have an exact list or anything.)
    Of course, you can't forget that there have been numerous laws and regulations put in place that limit or prevent the removal of fuel by various means in a number of locations. That's a self defeating thing once the first fire sweeps through. In a place where once there were trees that were fire resistant and needed the normal fires to cause their cones to open and disperse their seeds (fir trees are a good example), the fires with this new abundance of fuel are too hot, and actually kill or even destroy the trees along with their seeds.

    Managing the forests is a complicated and difficult thing due the previous reasons. Also, just because something was said almost a century ago, or even longer, doesn't make it any less valid.
  • Re:This is not... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 24, 2013 @08:32PM (#44666621)

    do us all a favor and shut the fuck up already. perhaps the unprecedented drought and unprecedented high temperatures might have something to do with it as well? and those might just be connected to the observed climatic shift? ya think? perhaps?

    nah, you're right. this is all smokey the bear and the environmental movement's fault! burn baby burn, just like Watts!

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!