January 4 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. 

How the Elite U.S. Forest Service Hotshots Battle Wildfires

From NBC News, by Emilie Ikeda | December 17, 2021

Members of the U.S. Forest Service hotshots team battle the Windy Fire and share about the mental toll of the tough fire season, and how they use their specialized training against the toughest blazes.

Santa Cruz County Residents Faced More Wildfires, Storms and Evacuations

From Santa Cruz Sentinel, by Hannah Hagemann | December 31, 2021

With the oscillation between wildfires and storms meaning thousands faced evacuations throughout the year, residents in the Santa Cruz Mountains continue to feel local impacts from climate change

California’s Forever Fire

From ProPublica, by Elizabeth Weil | January 3, 2022

After another devastating year, it’s clear that Californians can’t keep trying to “fight” wildfires. Instead, they need to accept it as their new reality.

Homes for Good Plans to Redevelop Mobile Home Park Destroyed by Holiday Farm Fire

From The Register-Guard, by Louis Krauss | December 30, 2021

Homes for Good plans to build 21 new units for the mobile homes lost, and replace 15 RV spots after wildfire that destroyed 400 homes total in the McKenzie River Valley in September 2020

Trails Reopen After Vast Destruction From Labor Day 2020 Wildfires

From KATU.com, by Evan Schreiber | December 30, 2021

4,000 acres of the Santiam State Forest will soon re-open to public access after the wildfires heavily impacted the public land.

OPINION Disaster Victims Shouldn't Have to Run a PR Campaign to Get Federal Aid

From Los Angeles Times, by Matt Sedlar, Trisha Cumbra | January 3, 2022

Disaster victims face an entirely new dilemma of fighting to receive federal aid after suffering through the trauma of natural disasters

‘I Thought I Was Broken’: When Wildland Firefighters Head Home, Trauma Takes Hold

From The Guardian, by Gabrielle Canon | December 31, 2021

Increase in time spent battling harsh wildfires is leading to greater mental health struggles in firefighters

Here's What Happened to Animals Rescued in Dixie, Lava, Antelope, Fawn Fires in 2021

From Record Searchlight, by Jessica Skropanic | January 2, 2022

Animals rescued from Dixie, Lava, Antelope, and Fawn fires are cared for by wildlife experts and neighbors, receiving medical care and bunking at animal refuges where they are fed by volunteers and helped to keep their specialized skills and wild ways.

Woolsey Fire Rebuild Progress Update

From Canyon News, by Casey | December 30, 2021

Environmental Sustainability Director and Building Official Yolanda Bundy gave a presentation about the current status of all of the 454 homes destroyed and discussed challenges homeowners are facing and potential ways to address bottlenecks in the process

When Utilities Spark Wildfires in Washington, They Can ‘Burn Down Your House and Get Away With It’

From The Seattle Times, by Rebecca Moss | January 2, 2022

Puget Sound Energy, whose power line sparked first flames of Washington Labor Day fire in 2020, most likely will not be held responsible for damage under Washington's law

Fires Can Help Forests Hold Onto Carbon—if They’re Set the Right Way

From Popular Science, by Angely Mercado | December 30, 2021

Wildfires can turn forests into greenhouse gas emitters, but a return to regular burn cycles could change that

California Continues to Face Wildfire Risks. Insurers Think They Have an Answer.

From Politico, by Debra Kahn | December 30, 2021

Though state leaders have poured money into firefighting and clearing brush from drought-parched forests, insurers think they can do more by refusing to back homes facing a high risk of burning up each year

San Diego Fire Department Idles Crews as COVID-19 Related Absences Mount

From The San Diego Union-Tribune, by Lyndsay Winkley, David Hernandez | January 2, 2022

After more than a hundred San Diego firefighters are in isolation due to the coronavirus, department leaders are forced to put together emergency brownout plan outlining which fire crews will be idled if staffing shortages demand it

New Funding for Watershed Health and Forest Restoration Around Shasta and Trinity Lakes

From Jefferson Public Radio, by Sophia Prince | December 30, 2021

$25 million in grant money that will fund wildfire recovery and forest health through the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, will soon be available for areas of Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou County.

Gov. Gianforte: State of Montana More than Doubles Forested Acres Treated in 2021

From Montana.Gov: Official State Website | December 29, 2021

Governor Greg Gianforte announces along with Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation that State of Montana reached its goal to more than double the number of forested acres put under management in 2021.

Are Radioactive Wildfires Next on California’s Apocalyptic Climate-Change Guest List?

From The San Francisco Chronicle, by Ethan Fang | January 3, 2022

Radiation proves to be a possible hazard coming from the smoke released from wildfires

Is Wildfire Arson Getting Worse in California? Climate Change Doesn’t Help

From Los Angeles Times, by Hayley Smith | December 31, 2021

Though the news headlines may lead some to believe wildfire arson is growing worse and worse and is the cause for the growing intensity of fires in California, research shows that arson only represents a fraction of California’s fire starts each year and that increasingly dry conditions and overgrown forests are what cause sparks to ignite into blazes

Scientist Says Climate Change Worsened Colorado Fire
from Reuters | January 3, 2022

Fires Outside of Denver Were the Most Destructive in Colorado History

From npr.org, by David Gura | January 1, 2022

Interview with Colorado Public Radio's Sam Brasch about the reason for and level of destruction of the recent Colorado fires

“Where Do We Go to Escape This?” The Marshall Fire is Colorado’s New Reality.

From The Colorado Sun, by Jason Blevins, Jesse Paul, and Kevin Simpson | January 2, 2022

The Marshall fire’s spread through a densely developed, urban environment made one thing clear: Very few parts of Colorado are completely safe from wildfire.

Officials: Nearly 1K Structures Destroyed in Colorado Fire

From AP News, by Brittany Peterson, Eugene Garcia | January 2, 2022

Nearly 1,000 homes and other structures were destroyed, hundreds more were damaged, and three people are missing after a wildfire charred numerous neighborhoods in a suburban area at the base of the Rocky Mountains

2021 North American Wildfire Season

From Center for Disaster Philanthropy | December 31, 2021

Overview of the impact, ongoing needs, and support generated from the 2021 North American wildfire season

Investigators Narrow Search for Origin of Colorado Wildfire

From AP News, by Thomas Peipert, Brittany Peterson | January 3, 2022

Investigators looking for the cause of the Colorado wildfire have narrowed their search to a sparsely populated neighborhood near Boulder where a passer-by captured video of a burning shed on the day the fire began

Snow and Ash: 'Miracle' No One Killed in Rare Winter Wildfire in Colorado

From Reuters, by Brad Brooks | December 31, 2021

Colorado officials report that, miraculously, no deaths were reported in a rare urban wildfire that moved at breakneck speeds across towns north of Denver, destroying upward of 1,000 homes

Colorado Wildfire: Three Feared Dead and Hundreds of Homes Destroyed as Biden Declares Disaster

From The Guardian, by Joanna Walters | January 1, 2022

Wind-stoked wildfire roared through two towns in Boulder county, Colorado, prompting thousands of evacuations and destroying nearly 1,000 homes, leaving three people missing

New Computer Program Rapidly Detects Homes, Buildings Damaged by California Wildfires

From Daily News, by McKenzie Prillaman | December 29, 2021

New computer program powered by artificial intelligence takes minutes to determine if structures have been damaged by fire before smoke clears

California City Facing Cuts in Fire Department

From Antelope Valley Press, by Allison Gatlin | December 31, 2021

Since City Council could not allow use of reserve funds, Fire Department will have to find $260,000 in cuts from its budget for the remaining six months of the fiscal year