August 23 Digest: This Week in Wildfire Recovery News

This is a digest of selected news and media that emerged over the last week related to wildfire emergencies, recovery efforts, and resilience building efforts in the American West. 

California Wildfires Map

From LA Times | August 22, 2022

Interactive map with up to date information about wildfires in the State of California

Forest Service Reports 100% Containment for Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire

From The Santa Fe Reporter by Julia Goldberg | August 22, 2022

Four months after it started, the Hermit's Peak and Calf Canyon Fire has been 100% contained. The largest fire in New Mexico history, this fire burned 341,735 acres.

Firefighters Engaged on Numerous Lightning-Caused Fires Across Jackson and Josephine Counties

From Jackson County Emergency Management, | August 19, 2022

Emergency crews in Jackson and Josephine Counties battled 48 fires in forested areas. On Thursday, the death of a contract firefighter on a fire in Josephine County was confirmed by ODF and BLM officials who was injured by a falling tree.  No homes were threatened or evacuations needed for these incidents.

List: California’s largest wildfires since 1932, according to Cal Fire

From Mercury News, by the Bay Area News Group | August 21, 2022

This article lists the 20 largest California wildfires since 1932 according to Calfire. Four of the five largest California fires burned since 2020, and the top 15 have occurred since 2003.

Effort to provide tiny homes for Caldor Fire victims

From Fox40 News | August 22, 2022

El Dorado County supervisors are looking for ways to support uninsured Caldor Fire victims left homeless after being denied three times for a FEMA housing program. They are seeking to purchase as many as 75 tiny homes to provide shelter for these people struggling to live a full year after losing everything to wildfire.

Reclaiming Paradise: A Retirement Town Confronts the Climate Crisis

From Next Avenue, by Craig Miller | August 22, 2022

Considerations for retirement age residents in higher risk wildfire areas are important to weigh when making a decision about relocation, or as described in this article, should elders rebuild after wildfire in a town like Paradise, CA, in which older residents perished.

Butte County receives over $72 million in disaster recovery funding, millions more awarded to Paradise, Chico

From Enterprise-Record, by Kimberly Morales | August 23, 2022

In California, the total of federal grants awarded to seven jurisdictions affected by wildfires sit at more than $317 million. The town of Paradise received the most grants — a sum of $199,592,735.75. Butte County received the second largest package at $72,722,679.61. Chico received the fourth-largest package of disaster funding — $12,388,409.65, behind the city of Redding.

New Tool Helps Predict Where Wildfire Smoke Will Blow

From Scientific American, by John Fialka | August 23, 2022

Scientists are working on ways to better anticipate the pathways—and health dangers—of drifting wildfire smoke.  The system, High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR), relies on satellite data and 3D modeling technology. The system was first tested a few years ago and has since been refined and improved by a team from NOAA and NASA.

Scientists work to protect indoor air quality from wildfire smoke

From NW News, by Courtney Flatt | August 23, 2022

Researchers are seeking effective ways to reduce the particulate matter entering homes during times when wildfire smoke is at harmful levels. They have found that older homes are especially 'leaky' to harmful air, producing health risks for residents. This article provides research-based, practical tips for homeowners.

How wildfires are transforming California’s most iconic landscapes

From CAP Radio, by Manola Secaira | August 22, 2022

California's giant sequoias are at grave risk, with an unprecedented loss of 1/5 of the state's iconic trees over the last few years. Foresters and researchers in Yosemite National Park are reframing and shifting their strategies to protect these trees, which have always seemed to be naturally resistant to fire, drought and disease.

Stalled U.S. Forest Service project could have protected California town from Caldor Fire destruction

From Jefferson Public Radio, by Scott Rodd, Emily Zentner and George LeVines| August 21, 2022

Hurdles, funding issues, environmentalist objections and delays halted the completion of the Forest Service Plan called The Trestle Project in the El Dorado National Forest. The initiative might have prevented the loss of 600 homes in Grizzly Flat from the Caldor Fire. The local Fire Safe Council had been working for years on mitigation measures, and the Forest Service's plan only reached 14% completion -2,000 of the 15,000 acres, before the wildfire destroyed the area--although they had previously reported a higher percentage before this investigative report.

California’s timber industry is calling on the military to help control fires

From Washington Post, by Anna Phillips and Vanessa Montalbano | August 23, 2022

The timber industry, hit hard financially by wildfires in recent years, is calling for federal and state officials to compensate for the shortage of firefighters with military troops.  Officials say that they do draw on military resources at times of emergency, but not preemptively. Experts note that it would be more worthwhile to invest in more hands off season doing forest and vegetation management.

Historic Climate Law Includes Major Investments in Nature-Based Solutions

From The Pew Charitable Trusts, by Courtney Durham | August 22, 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed by Congress on Aug. 12 and signed into law by President Joe Biden on Aug. 16, includes a crucial recognition of the role that nature can play in tackling climate change.  This article highlights measures in this law that will counter the devastating effects of climate change on the environment, people and communities.