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.
Chicago mayor calls out ‘shortage of values’ as city copes with gun violence
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. REUTERS/Jim Young/File photo
After a weekend marked by gun violence, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “there was a shortage of values” as he called on people who knew the shooters to report them.
“Don’t think for a moment people don’t know who in the neighborhood” was responsible, Emanuel said at a news conference on Monday (August 6), adding that people “have a moral responsibility to speak up.”
A violent weekend in Chicago left 12 people dead and dozens more wounded, police said.
Local media reported that 66 people were shot from 6 p.m. on Friday to midnight on Sunday and 12 of those victims died.
Police said most of the shootings are connected to gang violence in the city of about 2.7 million people, the third-largest in the United States. — Reuters
Trump threatens U.S. government shutdown over immigration
U.S.President Donald Trump. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday (July 29) he would allow the federal government to shut down if Democrats refuse to back his demand for a wall at the Mexican border and other major changes to immigration laws his administration wants.
“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally, go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!” Trump said on Twitter.
The Republican president has used the threat of a government shutdown several times since taking office in 2017 in a bid to get his priorities in congressional spending bills, especially funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border.
A disruption in federal government operations in the months before November congressional elections could backfire on Trump if voters blame Republicans, who control Congress, for the interruption in services.
Trump wants Congress to pass legislation that addresses immigration issues, including the border wall, changing the way visas are allotted and other immigration restrictions.
Although Republicans control Congress, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party have impeded a speedy legislative fix.
The Republican president has made tougher immigration laws a centerpiece of his administration, from the first ill-fated travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations to the current battle raging over the separation of illegal immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A federal judge on Friday urged the U.S. government to focus on finding deported immigrant parents so it could reunite them with their children who remain in the United States.
Trump has requested $25 billion to build the border wall and $1.6 billion has already appropriated for the project. — Reuters
U.S., South Korea and Japan discuss military drills, North Korea denuclearization
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a bilateral meeting with South Korea’s President Jae-in at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji/Pool
SEOUL, South Korea – The top diplomats from United States, South Korea, and Japan promised on Thursday (June 14) to work together to ensure North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons programme after U.S President Donald Trump’s summit with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono met in Seoul two days after Trump and Kim signed a statement agreeing to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Pompeo insisted that Pyongyang was committed to giving up its nuclear arsenal but said it would “be a process, not an easy one,” while Kono said he expects arrangements to be made for a summit between Japan and North Korea to resolve long-standing issues.- Reuters