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California will burn more to try to stop forest fires

LOS ANGELES – in California, the seemingly endless cycle of forest fires is asking authorities to make plans to be more “controlled burns” to thin forests choked with dead trees and withered bushes, which serves as kindling to feed the monster notice that the power of whole communities to flee, the destruction of houses and the taking of life.

Measures to combat forest fires that burn out of control is extremely expensive, and even when the authorities make mammoth efforts for the extinguishing of the burning, they can still lead to an expensive property and infrastructure losses when the fire populated areas. In October, thousands of California homes burned and 44 people died from forest fires in the state of the most renowned wine region north of San Francisco.

This week, during a fire northwest of Los Angeles still raged after destroying more than 700 homes, the U. S. Forest Service and the state fire agency has warned that the threat remains high, even after the blaze is put because of an estimated 129 million trees that died in California the past few years of drought and beetle infestation.

“It is the fuel just waiting to go up in flames,” said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of the California Department of Forestry and fire protection.

The agencies are planning more aggressive use of the so-called prescribed burns, when the fire prevention experts to identify areas of bone-dry surface fuels” and to send in crews to burn or clean-up using chainsaws and heavy equipment.

The state since July 1, has burned 13 square miles (37 square kilometers) of surface fuels, such as dry needles, leaves and bark over the years and can easily ignite, turning the forests in the gunpowder, Berlant said. That is more than double the amount released from three years ago.

The objective for 2018 is to burn at least 31 square miles (80 square kilometers) and for the clearing crews to clean up another 31 square miles. To protect the population centres, provincial and local governments are also becoming more and more inspections to ensure residential and commercial property owners are maintaining the cleared areas required by the law between their properties and forest lands.

But the 62 square miles (160 square kilometers), which would be cleared is much smaller than the 1,560 sq mi (4,040 kilometers) of the land burned by the California wildfires so far this year.

The fire prevention measures will save money in the long term in comparison with the enormous costs of fighting fires — in particular in the vicinity of the communities, because so many aircraft and firefighters are as a matter of urgency in protecting lives and property. The cost more than just 11 days to battle the biggest forest fire in the Los Angeles area this month reached $74.7 million on Thursday and was still going up.

Mike De Lasaux, a forester with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said the state would ideally burn hundreds of square miles of country with a surface area fuels each year, but he praised all the efforts to reduce dangerously overgrown forests. The current plan emerged as a result of a recent agreement between the state and federal agencies along with environmental, logging, and recreational interests.

The Lasaux estimated risk of the controlled burns running wild and burning of houses less than 2 percent.

But some have catastrophic, including a 2000 fire, set by the U.S. Park Service officials in New Mexico’s Bandelier National Monument. High winds whipped the blaze and flames drove through the community of Los Alamos, home of Los Alamos National Laboratory is a nuclear facility and the birthplace of the atomic bomb. More than 400 families lost their homes.

A burn 2012 set by the Colorado State Forest Service southwest of Denver ignited a 6-square-mile (16-square-km) wildfire that killed three people and damaged or destroyed more than two dozen houses. Colorado suspended prescribed burns by the government for five years and the ban was lifted in October.

Opponents of the burns by the authorities claim that the fire release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, putting the lives and goods at risk, and the killing of wild animals and the ancient trees that can never grow back. They also doubt their efficiency because of the forest fires are on the increase, although controlled burns have increased.

“Well, it’s been policy for decades and we still have catastrophic fires worse than ever,” said Arthur Firstenberg, a member of the New Mexico-based anti-controlled burn group Once A Forest.

The Lasaux counters that controlled fires produce significantly less smoke than wildfires such as those currently burning in California’s densely populated Ventura and Santa Barbara county, “destroy all the growth in the road” and prompting warnings about unhealthy air.

California officials only send crews performed controlled burns when conditions are considered safe, so fire will not go out of control, Berlant. That means weather conditions with cooler temperatures, high humidity and a gusty wind, he said.

“Every time there are cooler temperatures we try to have our teams out there,” he said. “What we get is a low intensity fire that does not burn everything in its path, only the grass and the ground fuels. Leave the larger trees safely.”

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