The most destructive wildfire in California history incinerated the bucolic Sierra foothill town of Paradise, California and only the Pacific ocean could stop the Woolsey fire that exploded across the west San Fernado Valley, through the Santa Monica mountains to the shores of Malibu. At least 11 lives have been lost. Nine people have been found dead in Paradise and 6713 structures were burned by the Camp fire and the fires are still burning. Californians are in shock.
But this morning demented Donald Trump tweeted:
There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
The man is sick. Donald is demented. He has no compassion. His heart is tinier than his hands. This is not the time for threats or blame, it is the time to care, help and console. Oh how I long for President Obama’s soothing, caring voice in times like this.
Poor forest management is not the reason for these deadly fires and the area that burned in southern California isn’t even a forest. It is chaparral. Fires are natural in California. There are tens of millions of people living in California and there’s a housing shortage which means that tens of thousands of people must live in fire prone areas.
California has suffered through record heat this summer and the fall rains have not come yet. Vegetation in northern California is at 5% moisture content. Then hot dry winds blew down through the mountain passes. The relative humidity was stunningly low, down to 2% in southern California.
With winds over 25mph and relative humidity of 2% a smoker lighting a cigarette risks setting his hair on fire. If every last tree was cut down, the weeds, shrubs and grass would burn and embers would still blow across freeways making a fire impossible to stop until the winds die down and the humidity rises. Ultimately, the Pacific ocean stopped the advance of the Woolsey fire.
There are ways to lessen the destructiveness of fires, such as allowing frequent small fires to burn, but in crowded smog prone California that option is not on the table. Ideally managed forests in the Sierra Nevada and Sierra foothills would still burn destructively because they are under heat and drought stress brought on by climate change. If Donald Trump was even slightly competent he would be fighting to do something about climate change, not blaming Californians for the fires.
Fire weather forecast for California:
There is critical to extreme fire danger for the next 3 days in northern and southern California. High fire danger will continue in southern California for 5 days as the hot dry winds progress southwards over time. Days 4 and 5 could be extremely dangerous in San Diego county.