California Firefighters Face Dire Forecast in Wine Country Blaze

Even as firefighters in Northern California’s wine country battle a blaze that forced the evacuation of entire towns, a forecast of extreme heat and dry winds threatens to breath new life into the inferno.

TheNational Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the area surrounding the Glass Fire, which has charred more than 48,000 acres and burned 80 homes since early Sunday. Wind gusts of 25-30 miles per hour were forecast for Thursday afternoon through Friday evening, raising the fire risk for the area. Temperatures in the city of Napa were forecast to hit 102 Thursday.

Aksu, ChinaMost polluted air today, in sensor range 0 6 5 4 3 2 0 3 2 1 0 9 0 4 3 2 1 0 .0 8 7 6 5 4 0 8 7 6 5 4 0 7 6 5 4 3 0 8 7 6 5 4 0 5 4 3 2 1 0 8 7 6 5 4 Parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere

50,​820 Million metric tons of greenhouse emissions, most recent annual data 38% Carbon-free net power in Germany, most recent data

$69.​9B Renewable power investment worldwide in Q2 2020 +0.​94° C Aug. 2020 increase in global temperature vs. 1900s average -37.​62% Today’s arctic ice area vs. historic average

The blaze began as strong, dry winds raked the hills above Napa Valley, near the town of Calistoga, whose residents were ordered to evacuate. But in recent days, calmer and cooler weather helped slow the fire’s growth. Only 1,840 acres burned overnight Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, firefighters had contained 2% of the blaze. The next wind event could stymie that progress.

“We’re looking at a very similar wind event as when this fire first started moving out,” said Incident Commander Billy See with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, at a press conference Wednesday. “We’re preparing for the worst-case scenario, and we’re hoping for the best. So firefighters are going to be working around the clock securing those lines.”

In anticipation of the heat, California’s grid operator urged energy conservation Thursday due to expected high electricity demand. The operator also asked power providers and transmission owners to restrict maintenance to ensure adequate power supplies.

The fire is raging northeast of Santa Rosa, an area devastated by the 2017 Tubbs Fire that was among the most destructive in California history. Properties damaged in the famed vineyard region included the Chateau Boswell estate, the Meadowood resort and the Castello di Amorosa winery.

California has been battered for weeks by rounds of extreme weather that state officials say have been fueled by climate change. Last month, a record-breaking heat wave triggered the state’s first rotating power outages since the 2001 energy crisis. More than 8,100 wildfires have burned a record 3.9 million acres this year, choking cities with smoke, killing at least 29 people and destroying more than 7,200 structures.

California’s peak wildfire season traditionally runs from September through November. It has grown longer and less predictable in recent years, with blazes coming as late as December.

— With assistance by Mark Chediak

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