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California

CAL FIRE Type 3 Wildland Update

Cal Fire Wildland Firetrucks

In August of 2017, Boise Mobile Equipment (BME) was awarded roughly $10 million to produce over thirty Type 3 wildland firefighting apparatuses for the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, better known as CAL FIRE. Since the initial contract CAL FIRE has now ordered 60 Wildland Type 3 trucks from BME. Here is a brief look inside our production timeline:

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Three Reasons Why Firefighting is Getting Costlier

wildfires getting costlier

It turns out that 2017 was a banner year, and ultimately a tragic one, for the bottom line among the world’s insurance carriers. Unparalleled natural disasters around the world will result in more than $135 billion in claims and losses. Total property losses, after you factor in uninsured property, will exceed $330 million. Only 2011, which included the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami at the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulted in greater losses.

While it’s impossible to put monetary value on the loss of life, one can only imagine the scale of tragedy after so many floods, hurricanes, severe storms, and wildfires.

Possibly more distressing is the overwhelming opinion among the scientific community that these natural disasters, caused and amplified by a number of factors, will only increase in years to come.

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The California Wildfire Season Is Now 4-5 Months Longer

california wildfire season longer

Last December, another major fire plagued California. For over a month, the Thomas Fire blazed through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The destruction surpassed 440 square miles of land scorched and 1,063 structures burned, claiming the title as the largest wildfire in California history. As of December 22nd, more than 8,500 firefighters fought to contain it. It took firefighters until January 12 to reach 100 percent containment, thanks in part to the subsiding Santa Ana winds that had originally exacerbated the fire in early December.

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Why Mudslides Occur After Large Wildfires Like the California Thomas Fire and How to Protect Yourself From Them

thomas fire

In January of 2018, the relief from hazardous weather and extreme conditions did not appear to be in sight for residents of the Golden State.  Devastating mudslides in California killed at least 20 people in early January in the coastal town of Montecito.  Downed trees and power lines as well as cascading boulders made the task of getting to those needing assistance difficult.  The excessive flooding and debris made air transport the only viable form of rescue.  Helicopters loaned by Ventura’s Air Squad 6 dedicated were used to pluck more than 50 people from rooftops from parts of Montecito and Santa Barbara.

As of mid-January, the relief and search effort numbered 3,000 workers from local, state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy and the American Red Cross.  Details regarding the victims’ circumstances before the mudslides emerged from rescuers.  As the saturated hillsides gave way, the torrent of mud, water, and other debris was said to have swept the casualties away while they slept.  The mudslides were triggered by a powerful storm that hit the region along with mountainous areas that were stripped of vegetation burned bare by the gigantic December 2017 Thomas fire.  Let’s take a look at how the wildfires that raged through the area late last year have made the mudslides more devastating.

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California’s “New Normal” Demands New Staff and New Strategies in 2018

wildland firefighters

Some of the biggest headlines of late show that California has been on fire near continuously over the past couple of months. Agencies such as CAL Fire and the Forestry Service have beefed up their staffing in the face of these unprecedented blazes.

The staffing increase is especially underway in Southern California in the face of strong winds and continuous dry conditions throughout the recent fire season. Coupled with the extent of the burnt scrub and bushes from past fires, these blazes have already chewed up hundreds of thousands of acres and destroyed thousands of structures. In response to these fires, as well as in handling the aftermath with recent flooding and mudslides, various fire and forestry agencies have stepped up their hiring efforts. As these intense blazes become more aggressive, sufficient personnel will be needed to respond to these emergencies with equal aggression.

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Thomas Fire Caps an Unprecedented Fire Season

Thomas Fire

The final California wildfire of the year, Thomas Fire has been decimating much of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties since early December, 2017. In terms of acreage, this final inferno is the largest in the history of the state. In terms of how the fire has spread and behaved, many veterans claim they’ve never seen anything like it.

All up and down the state this season, battling one devastating blaze after another, California has just suffered one of the most destructive fires in its history. The Thomas fire has reached the top of the list of history’s most destructive fires to ever chew through California.

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Northern California Fire Crews Switch Focus from Blazes to Mudslides

northern california wildfire

Even though the wildfires that ravaged the North Bay region of California are now under control, there still looms the equally devastating threat of mudslides throughout the area. Many of the scorched hillsides have been reduced to ash and debris, just waiting for the rainy winter season that could turn them into deadly mudslides. The threat is real enough that some of the areas with steeper terrain have been ordered to evacuate.

Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director for Cal Fire, spoke with the Napa Valley Registry and explained that part of their task in the clean up after the fires was to consult with hydrologists and forestry experts to examine the damaged watersheds. They assess the soil burn severity. A hot fire bakes the soil like a brick, and then rainwater can’t soak in. The runoff results in erosion and debris flows.

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Briefing: December 2017 Southern California Wildfires

December has been a hard month for the Golden State.  A series of 16 wildfires ignited throughout Southern California during the first week of December causing panic and widespread destruction of property. The rapidly moving fires that have forced thousands of Californians to evacuate their homes have been exacerbated by unusually powerful and unending Santa Ana winds. Winds, along with powerline malfunctions has facilitated the growth of fires by igniting vast amounts of dry vegetation.

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Families of Northern California Fire Victims Suing PG&E (Can Firefighters be held Liable?)

The potential financial costs of the wildfires that ravaged much of Northern California in October are staggering, taking a tremendous toll on the regional crop industries. Worse still are the more tragic costs of lives and homes. Now that the fires have been contained, the time has come for the necessary work of investigating their origins – and with cause comes accountability.

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California Pushes for New and Improved Utility Safety Rules Following Major Wildfires

california utility safety

In the aftermath of Northern California’s most recent wildfires, which torched roughly 250,000 acres of wine country and other locations, Californian utility company PG&E has come under intense scrutiny. Concerns have arisen about the company’s possible negligence, namely downed power lines and sloppy upkeep of foliage near their equipment in some areas, may have caused or contributed to the blaze and exacerbated the disaster.  

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