A highlight from Deepening Drought Holds 'Ominous' Signs For Wildfire Threat In The West

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We are heading into the wildfire season in the american west. Truth is that season is now so long almost never out of it. Twenty twenty featured one of the most destructive wildfire seasons in modern history and in twenty twenty one of widening drought is creating conditions. That are even worse. Here's npr's eric westervelt in late. September the fast moving glass fire badly damaged nearly thirty napa. Wineries including family owned hourglass winds swept through. The region was still recovering. From twenty seven teens record setting fires hourglasses winemaking building is a total loss steel fermentation in storage tank. Sit like sad damaged. Sculptures most of the two thousand twenty vintage is still inside cooked and lost founder and president. Jeff smith walks past a pile of fire scarred stones. Yeah that was all remnants of The old farmhouse. The wineries guest house built in eighteen. Fifty two smith says the hardest loss in fact was the grove of redwood doug for olive trees even older than the house most of which now lie burnt and stacked for salvage. Yeah that was to me. That was the sole property the trees and and that's the heartbreak of of this for us. The the buildings can be rebuilt but the couple of hundred year old trees. You know you can't you can't just magically bring those right back. The glass fire was just one of nearly ten thousand california wildfires last year that burned more than four million acres. A modern record fires destroyed more than ten thousand structures and the prospect for this fire season. I think california's looking worse this year than twenty twenty because of the severe drought. That's craig clements director of the wildfire interdisciplinary research center at san jose state. He says california's drought with anemic winter. Rain and snow falls has left wildfire fuels and parts of california at near record levels of dryness. What we found that the you'll moisture so this is the amount of water inside the living. Plant that amount of water is the lowest recorded at these sites twenty thirteen and so it's indicative of very dangerous conditions coming. Into the summer dangerous conditions are the result of drier hotter weather due to a warming climate combined with more than a century of fire suppression. That's left many forests with treacherous amounts of built up fuel. Vegetation across big parts of california are already looking stressed and dried stream flows and reservoir levels are down significantly and all of that could be worsened by predicted. Warmer than normal temperatures says. Amanda sheffield with noah's national integrated drought information system. Summer temperatures are forecasted by the national weather service to be above normal again all across the west including california when you combine a dry hot windy weather with dried vegetation from drought. You can definitely see potential for large-scale fires but that's a forecast. Some in pandemic battered california may not want to hear. Today and picturesque calistoga in napa county. Tourists are returning in droves more than ready for a post lockdown generous poor and to take in the beautiful fire scarred landscape but calistoga like a handful of other cities has already imposed emergency water restrictions because of the drought so mayor. Chris canning has to balance boost tourism with realism. we've city since eighteen. Sixty two in our entire history since. Then we've only been evacuated twice in both of those times. Have been in the last four years as a direct result of wildfire. Not a good resume for america's both were under my watch but Absolutely necessary for the safety and protection of our residents to get a jump on any fires. This season canning is pleased. The state agency cal fire has dedicated a new firefighting helicopter and a twenty four seven firefighting crew for napa county and the mayor says most of the region's residents get it. They're building bigger firebreaks. Making a plan and clearing brush on their properties but caning admits. That's not everyone. The other school of thought is Let's pretend you know what happened in the past is the past. It'll never happen again. The amnesia responses problematic. Especially if you're not taking the precautions you need to as a business or resident to be prepared. That's where it's dangerous back at nap is hourglass. Winery owner jeff. Smith says the more frequent more destructive. Wildfires have him rethinking everything about how he manages his land and business as he examines. How to rebuild stronger and smarter. I grew up. All of my roots are here And it's my intention to stay and rebuild. But i think that there's a lot of game changing thought processes that we need to be going through and we're taking a much harder look at materials at defensible space. Fire suppression systems access. You know all of these kinds of things to try to mitigate This into the future and smith is hopeful. He plans to rebuild enough this summer to crush in process this year's grape harvest in a new facility here in september

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