California wildfire leaves coastal city Santa Barbara empty with tourists

admin   •   December 14, 2017   •   3399

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.

US donates hygiene kits, handwashing stations to Manila City gov’t

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government of the United States on Thursday donated hygiene kits and handwashing stations to the city government of Manila in support of the Philippine capital’s fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, US Ambassador Sung Kim said he visited the Delpan Quarantine Facility in Tondo to handover 5,000 hygiene kits and 16 handwashing stations to Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.

Kim said the hygiene kits could provide additional protection against COVID-19 through the provision of items essential to practicing good personal hygiene.

The kits contain face masks, soap, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, and toothbrushes.

“The U.S. government is a friend, partner, and ally of the Manileños in facing this pandemic. The American people are pleased to support the City of Manila’s efforts to fight COVID-19,” Kim said.

To complement the donation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said it will continue to collaborate with the Manila City Health Office to help ensure that citizens can access quality tuberculosis services during the pandemic as well as to support the rollout of the Department of Health’s “Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE)” strategy to contain the pandemic.

USAID recently donated two ventilators to the Tondo Medical Center as part of the 100 ventilators that the U.S. government handed over last August 28 to the Philippine government.

To date, the U.S. government has donated over P1 billion ($22.6 million) to support the Philippines’ COVID-19 response.

California wildfire death toll hits 31; hazardous air quality recorded

Marje Pelayo   •   September 14, 2020

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)

Pompeo says closed Chinese consulate in Houston was ‘den of spies’

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday (July 30) the “tide is turning” in U.S. dealings with China, saying there is international support for American policies, including the step-up of maritime maneuvers in the South China Sea.

Reflecting rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, Pompeo took a tough line on China in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We see the Chinese Communist Party for what it is: the center threat of our times,” Pompeo said.

In recent days, Washington and Beijing have each closed one of the other country’s consulates – the United States closing China’s office in Houston and China retaliating by shuttering the U.S. facility in Chengdu – and Pompeo recently announced an end to Hong Kong’s special trading status.

“We closed the consulate in Houston because it was a den of spies,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo was testifying publicly at Foreign Relations Committee hearing for the first time in 15 months, discussing the State Department’s annual budget request.

President Donald Trump’s administration has tried to slash the State Department budget since it took office, which has been rejected by Congress every year. Democratic lawmakers told the hearing that they would not support steep cuts this year either. (Reuters)

(Production: Kia Johnson)

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