As Climate Fires Roar Back, Chris Wallace Must #AskAboutClimate in Tomorrow’s Debate
Washington, D.C. — Overnight, deadly, and destructive climate fires once again began raging out of control in California and other Western states. There has never been a more critical time for voters to understand how Trump and Biden will each address the climate crisis, including the extreme weather events and other climate disasters facing people across the country.
Climate has an outsized effect on every issue that’s important to voters, yet it’s been 12 years since a climate question was asked during a debate. But the climate crisis is here and Chris Wallace must #AskAboutClimate tomorrow night.
“From climate fires to supercharged hurricanes and other extreme weather events, no one has been left unaffected by the climate crisis,” said Climate Power 2020 Executive Director Lori Lodes. “Presidential candidates cannot ignore climate change, and neither can debate moderators. Chris Wallace must press Biden and Trump on what they will do to address the climate crisis, which is now disrupting life across the country. People are literally losing their lives in these climate fires and the public deserves to know where the candidates stand.”
Deadly and Destructive Climate Fires Continue to Rage Across the West
More than 7 million acres have burned and there are 52 large wildfires currently blazing across California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Colorado.
Northern California was placed under a critical wildfire risk over the weekend and through today as the region experiences triple-digit temperatures and wind gusts as high as 65mph. At least 50,000 people were affected by evacuation orders from wildfires in Northern California. Parts of Southern California are also under a fire weather watch as strong Santa Ana winds start blowing through inland mountains today.
These wind patterns and air pressure differences resulted in dryer air, which is fueling existing blazes and allowing new fires to quickly spread. Coupled with the heat and very low humidity predicted next week, it will make vegetation extremely dry and difficult to contain fires.
Shady and Boysen Fires
This weather is already resulting in disastrous consequences for California residents. Two fast-growing fires – the Shady Fire and the Boysen Fire – broke out Sunday night in Sonoma County and later combined with the Glass Fire in Napa County. The Shady Fire, burning west of Oakmont, has already destroyed half a dozen homes and resulted in more than 6,800 residents of Santa Rose and the surrounding area ordered to evacuate. The Boysen Fire, burning west of St. Helena, has also forced officials to order evacuations.
The Glass Fire tore through structures near St. Helena, and between Sunday evening and this morning, had quadrupled in size – jumping from 2,500 to 11,000 acres. The fire is now threatening more than 8,500 structures, most of them homes. As of this morning the blaze is 0% contained. New evacuation orders continued to be issued, with more than 1,800 people forced to evacuate and about 5,000 residents under some form of evacuation notice. This included Adventist Health St. Helena which was forced to suspend hospital and emergency care and transfer about 50 patients to other facilities – making it the second time this summer that this hospital has had to evacuate due to fire risk.
Climate Fires Endanger Life and Property Across the West
The above is tragic, but barely scratching the surface of the impacts of the climate fires across the West:
- PG&E planned to cut power to almost 65,000 customers to reduce the risk of its power lines causing further fires.
- PG&E said more than 14,000 homes and businesses in Santa Rosa lost power, likely because of the fires.
- In Napa County, at least 3,000 PG&E costumes didn’t have power because of the Glass Fire.
- The Zogg Fire in Shasta County exploded to 7,000 acres amid ‘extreme’ wind gusts on Sunday evening. After growing from 50 to 7,000 acres in a matter of hours, the fire had more than doubled to consume 15,000 acres as of this morning.
- Communities impacted by the 2018 Camp Fire were under evacuation warnings as fast winds resulted in the North Complex wildfire picking up again.
- Colorado’s Cameron Peak Fire continued to grow due to 60mph winds on Saturday, spreading to over 186 square miles and is now the third-largest wildfire in Colorado’s recorded history. As of Sunday morning, it was 25% contained.
- Water quality could be impacted for a decade from wildfire fallout in Oregon, affecting 200,000 residents – including residents of Detroit, where the city’s water treatment plant was destroyed by the Lionshead Fire.
- Some residents in the path of Oregon’s wildfires never received evacuation alerts from officials. As the Almeda Fire raced across Jackson County, local officials declined to activate their Emergency Alert System. Alerts were sent only to residents who signed up for an online notification system. The Almeda fire also destroyed two largely Latino communities in southern Oregon’s Jackson County earlier this month. Nearly 3,000 homes in low-income communities were incinerated in a single afternoon.
- An environmental activist was confirmed dead from the Beachie Creek Fire.
- More than 500 firefighters continued to work on the Holiday Farm fire as warm and dry east winds entered the area on Sunday, pushing temperatures into the mid 80’s through Wednesday.
- The Riverside Fire in Clackamas County has been kept at bay for several consecutive days after more than three inches of rain fell over the fire area in the past week.