After destroying close to 14,000 homes, 500 businesses, and taking at least 85 lives, Northern California’s Camp Fire is 100 percent contained, according to CalFire, the statewide fire agency. According to the Washington Post, authorities expect the death toll to rise, as 249 people are still missing.
CalFire declared the blaze 100% contained in an update on Sunday afternoon. That doesn’t mean it’s out, but it does mean firefighters have successfully created a containment barrier (sometimes meaning just a 10-12 foot wide trench) around the” entire fire. The Camp Fire was the most destructive wildfire in California history, razing nearly the entire town of Paradise, California and 153,000 acres of the surrounding Butte County and other jurisdictions nearby. It burned over 500 businesses and has left thousands living in impromptu refugee camps in Walmart parking lots and other public areas.
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, meanwhile, has blamed the fire on “radical environmentalists,” and President Trump also falsely blamed the fire on poor forestry practices, a mistake the firefighters on the ground had to set straight.
Per the Los Angeles Times:
But although Paradise is near forestland, the wind-whipped Camp fire tore across areas that burned in lightning fires in 2008 and were later logged. It was not fueled by heavy timber.
“It started out as a vegetation fire. When it reached the incorporated area, which is definitely a lot more urban and developed of an area,” Jonathan Pangburn, a fire behavior analyst for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said in an interview last week, “it turned into a building-to-building fire ... no longer carrying through most of the vegetation, especially in the upper canopies in the trees. It was not a crown fire through the Paradise area.”
Firefighters have been working to get the fire under control for 17 days, but caught a lucky break over Thanksgiving when the area saw three straight days of rain. The rain, of course, comes with dangers of its own: burned areas are often susceptible to mudslides.
Republicans, meanwhile, have been having a field day on the Sunday talk shows, disparaging the latest assessment by the federal government of the dramatic, terrifying consequences of global climate change. This looks to be the new normal.