Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Sand Fire has Burned 38,000 Acres, is 40% contained

Tom Torlakson Left In Charge while Every Other State Official is in Philadelphia

 

Santa Monica Fire Department rendered aid on the Sand Fire.

The Sand Fire north of Santa Clarita has burned 38,500 acres as of Wednesday Morning. But the fire is 40% contained, and firefighters believe they will have a handle on the fire by Friday, a week after it broke out.

Most of the 3000 people evacuated by the fire have been allowed to return. 2 movie studios, one of them over 40 years old, were destroyed by the fire. One body was found in a car, though it isn't clear how that man died.

Nearly 3,000 firefighters from a number of agencies, including the Santa Monica Fire Department, have been working around the clock to calm the blaze, which quickly exploded when it first broke out Friday afternoon.

Tom Torlakson, Superintendent of Public Instruction, has declared a state of emergency for the Sand Fire, and also for the Sobreano Fire in Big Sur, just South of Monterey. Of California's 7 elected public officials, only Torlakson remains in California. Every other State official has gone to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. All of California's 7 elected statewide officials are Democrats.

At one point, the fast-moving wildfire threatened thousands of homes and caused 20,000 residents to evacuate. On Monday night, most of them were allowed to go back home.

While firefighters are gaining the upper hand in the fight, officials said they still have 60 percent of the fire to contain. Fire officials are also asking people to stop operating drones in the area, which has hampered firefighting efforts from time to time.

Since the blaze broke out, 18 homes in Sand Canyon, Bear Divide and Little Tujunga were destroyed, one structure was damaged and five suffered minor damage.

Air quality advisories have also been issued for the Santa Clarita, Antelope and San Gabriel Valleys as well as the San Gabriel Mountains until at least midnight Wednesday.

Firefighters battling wildfires will soon have another tool in their arsenal to attack a growing problem: interference from drones.

Illegal drone intrusions during wildfires such as the current Sand Fire in Los Angeles County are creating hazards for firefighting aircraft, but a new technology could literally ground the unmanned flying machines and make the skies safer again.

A Santa Monica Firefighter puts out a trailer on fire near Santa Clarita.

"It's been a problem each of the last couple of fire seasons, and we continue to see incursions," said Stanton Florea, a fire information officer for the U.S. Forest Service.

The U.S. Interior Department said it was partnering with several drone industry companies and "activated a prototype warning system that provides real-time alerts and geo-fencing alarms to prevent drone pilots from interfering with firefighting operations."

This move comes as the incidents of drone intrusions over wildfires has more than doubled from 2014 to 2015, according to the Interior Department.

The agency developed the test system with DJI, a large manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles, and AirMap and Skyward, a provider of airspace intelligence and navigational services to unmanned aircraft.

 

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