California wildfire death toll hits 31; hazardous air quality recorded

Marje Pelayo   •   September 14, 2020   •   325

Death toll from the raging wildfires in California is currently at 31 including a one-year old child.

As of Monday (September 14), the wildfire has reached more than 3.2 million acres in California, over 800,000 acres in Oregon and more than 600,000 in Washington State. 

Over one million residents have already been evacuated to safety as wildfires continue to move fast in between states. 

Meanwhile, poor air quality has been recorded in almost all parts of California and Oregon due to thick smoke causing red orange skies in San Francisco and Oregon while smokey yellow sky in Southern California. 

Based on records of IQAir.com, which tracks air quality around the world, some of the worst air quality are observed over Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

The poor air quality has reached parts of British Columbia in Canada prompting the Canadian government to increase air pollution warning over the weekend.

The death toll is expected to increase and Oregon Governor Kate Brown said ‘mass fatality incident’ is highly possible due to the large number of establishments and houses charred from the ongoing wildfire. MNP (with inputs from Sonny Cos)

No Filipinos affected so far by US forest fires — DFA

Marje Pelayo   •   September 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday (September 14) confirmed that no Filipinos have so far been reported affected by the recent forest fire incidents across the West Coast in the United States.

The DFA wishes to refer the public to the advisories released by Philippine foreign service posts with jurisdiction over affected areas for up-to-date information and necessary assistance.

Specifically, these offices are the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles and the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco.

Local authorities are still struggling to control the raging wildfires in California, Oregon, Washington State and other areas in the West Coast.

The situation is made worse by varying wind directions and very low humidity. 

The raging wildfires across California, Oregon and Washington have already charred millions of acres of land and killed more than 30 people so far.

Authorities fear the death toll will increase as dozens more remain unaccounted for.

 California wildfire leaves coastal city Santa Barbara empty with tourists

admin   •   December 14, 2017

Santa Barbara is located near the foot of the mountains and locals are often left with no other choice but to immediately retreat when a wildfire erupts.

In the north of Santa Barbara where the wildfire broke out on Dec 4, mountains stretch over 1,200 meters with no place for setting up any separation zone — making it rather difficult for anyone to stay in the vicinity.

Despite the ongoing winter holidays and upcoming celebrations, no one has been seen either along the west coast of the county — known for one of its popular beach resorts.

Hundred and ninety-two roads passing through Santa Barbara have been completely closed down. As of Tuesday morning, only 20 percent of the raging fire was brought under control, according to the local fire department.

But the wall of flames of the Thomas fire on Tuesday afternoon was about 200 yards away from and inching closer to expensive mansions in Montecito, one of the richest communities in the United States.

“It has burned down to some beautiful homes. We are asking residents to have defensible space, have a plan. When we ask you to evacuate it is for your own safety. We have already had one fatality very early on in the fire and we don’t want to lose any more people. I am happy to report that we haven’t had any more civilian injuries or deaths,” said California fire department spokesman Captain Steve Concialdi.

The Thomas fire, which broke out on Dec. 4 near the community of Ojai, has since spread 27 miles to become the fifth largest blaze in state history. It has blackened more than 366 square miles in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, an area larger than New York City.

“It’s pretty devastating. I mean, I’ve lived here for 25 years, been through quite a few fires, and this one I think has surpassed all those other experiences in terms of the devastation and the impact it’s had on the area. And there air, it’s just been phenomenal,” said Frank Palmieri, a bookkeeper from the city.

There’s bad stuff in the air. And, you don’t know what it’s doing to your body, so [I’m] wearing a mask now. But it feels awful, headaches, I get a little nauseous,” said Jamey Geston, a student at Santa Barbara City College.

Officials said that while the conflagration charred another 2,500 acres overnight, a break in the hot, dry Santa Ana winds on Tuesday sapped its forward momentum and allowed crews to prevent further damage to homes.

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