The most devastating wildfires in Califorina history occurred in October 2017 in Napa and Sonoma counties.|
They started on October 8th and burned for 10 days before they were 80-85% contained.
141,000 acres (220 square miles) had burned. More than 7,200 homes and businesses destroyed and 30 died.
15,000 people remain evacuated after 10 days.
These 3 fires combined had more deaths and damage than the previously most dangerous California fire, the Oakland Hills fire in 1991 with 2,900 structures destroyed and 25 deaths.
See CAL FIRE - Top 20 Most Destructive California Wildfires
A 2003 fire in San Diego Co. burned 273,000 acres.
Other N Cal fires:
In addition to the 3 fires in Napa and Sonoma counties there were 10 other wildfires burning in Northern California on Oct. 18, 2017.
The Redwood/Potter fire in Mendocino Co had burned 35,000 acres.
The Cascade fire in Yuba Co had burned 10,000 acres.
All in all 217,000 acres (340 square miles), 7,780 structures destroyed and 42 dead. Over $1 billion in damage to insured property.
90,000 persons were displaced in northern California.
Why did they all start about the same time:
The three largest fires in Napa and Sanoma Cos started between 9 and 11 p.m. Sunday.
The causes are still under investigation, but authorities point to a perfect storm of factors that have fanned the wildfires.
50 MPH winds with gusts up to 75 MPH may have caused trees weakened by years of drought to impact power lines.
California's multiyear drought ended in April after a heavy rainy season. With the bounty of rain, lots of plants flourished and bloomed across the state.
But there hasn't been much rain during the summer, causing many of the plants to wilt and dry out. The dead vegetation was perfect fuel for the fires.
Air quality was the bigest issue for my relatives in the area:
Napa and Sanoma residents were still advised to stay inside and use masks if they go out as of October 19.
EPA's Air quality index which measures the kind of fine particulate pollution that can enter the body through the lungs in parts of Napa County was above 300 on Oct 10th -- a level considered hazardous.
San Francisco last Thursday was sitting at 161 -- about 4 to 5 times EPA standards for clean air.
Some recording stations close to the fires had recordings in the 400s.
In 2016, Napa and Sonoma County both averaged an air quality index level of 32.
There was smoke down to Palo Alto where my son lives, 90 miles away.
My cousin from Napa's facebook post said,
I have learned more about evacuaton procedures this week than I ever wanted to know. There are 3 types: an unofficial "voluntary" evacuation -- you just decide to leave; an official "advisory" evacuation (during which you don't have to go but you should be packed and ready; and an official "mandatory" evacuation, when the fire is very close and you must leave NOW."
CAL FIRE - Statewide Fire Summary
2017 Fire Map
CAL FIRE - Top 20 Most Destructive California Wildfires
Air Quality Index - A Guide to Air Quality and Your Health. Brochure 2014. EPA-456/F-14-002
Northern California Fires Have Destroyed at Least 5,700 Buildings - The New York Times
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last updated 20 Oct 2017