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Wildfires in California Still Raging

(Noted News) — Since the start of 2020, California has lost 6,400 square miles to wildfires, a landmass about the size of Hawaii. Now, Orange County has become the center of a new inferno threatening the Golden State.

In less than two days, seething Santa Ana winds forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate Southern California, with two firemen injured with second and third-degree burns in the process. 

After dry, desert air blowing in from the south fanned the flames of already burning fires, Orange County was forced into evacuation mode, with Governor Gavin Newsom putting at least 90,000 people under evacuation orders. According to the Governor, winds had been clocked at 88 mph in the county, and 96 mph in the adjacent San Gabriel Mountains. 

The Orange County Fire Authority said that over 750 firefighters with 14 helicopters were only able to contain 5% of the fires mostly concentrated in Silverado, which grew overnight to 11,200 hectares.

Though the source of the fire has not been confirmed by authorities, utility company Southern California Edison has reported that the blaze may have been sparked by one of their power lines.

“It appears that a lashing wire attached to a telecommunications line may have contacted SCE’s power line above it, possibly starting the fire,” a spokesman for the company said. 

To prevent any further accidents, the company said it had cut power to more than 19,000 homes and businesses, including 1,270 Orange County residents. 

The other fire in Orange County, situated in Blue Ridge, broke out later near Yorba Linda, spreading overnight to destroy 15,200 acres by morning on Tuesday, the OCFA said.

As of October 27, 2020, there have been 8,836 different fires recorded in the state of California charring 4% of its landmass, making it the worst wildfire season in all of recorded history. However, only 367 of them have been actively battled by authorities. 

Governor Newsom issued a request to President Donald Trump for federal assistance to battle the blazes.

“I request that you declare a major disaster in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Siskiyou counties, as a result of wildfires that began in early September 2020, and are continuing. The severity and magnitude of these fires continue to cause significant impacts to the State and to the affected local jurisdictions, such that recovery efforts remain beyond the State’s capabilities.”

Originally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected the request, saying that the “early September fires were not of such severity and magnitude to exceed the combined capabilities of the state, affected local governments, voluntary agencies, and other responding federal agencies.”

After the rejection, Newsom appealed the decision, had a phone call with Donald Trump, and managed to close the deal, reversing the decision by October 17. 

Trump’s vocal criticisms of Newsom’s handling of the fires may have been an influence in FEMA’s original rejection of the disaster relief. In a detailed twitter rant, the President listed multiple things he disliked about Newsom’s managing of the California environment. 

“The Governor of California, has done a terrible job of forest management. I told him from the first day we met that he must “clean” his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers.”

“..Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing—and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states…But our teams are working well together in putting these massive, and many, fires out. Great firefighters! Also, open up the ridiculously closed water lanes coming down from the North. Don’t pour it out into the Pacific Ocean. Should be done immediately. California desperately needs water, and you can have it now!” 

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