Image above: A firefighter walks near a backfire during the Saddleridge fire in Newhall, California on October 11, 2019. Josh Edelson/Getty Images
By: John Lee and Payton Suh
As we look back at 2019, we have seen many natural disasters. From hurricanes to fires, here are some of the most memorable natural disasters from 2019.
The Kincade fire was reported on October 23 at 9:27 p.m. on the Sonoma County mountainside, about 80 miles north of San Francisco. Even though precautions had been made with power outages made by PG&E, which had difficulty keeping electric lines from igniting fires when winds, the fire still started. As Mercury News reported, PG&E later admitted that the fire could have been started by its own equipment. Californian Cal Fire agency said the fire was first reported close to the T – section joining Burned Mountain Road and Kincade Road, in Cloverdale. The fire started on private land that Calpine, a company known for being America’s largest electricity generating companies, used for geothermal energy operations.
Dry and windy weather in the beginning of the wildfire might have been what made the fire so destructive. Gusts peaked at 93 mph in the hills north of Healdsburg on Oct. 27. Because of this, the Kincade Fire quickly grew. Its growth doubled from the day before, with only 5% containment. During that Sunday, and even the day before, the fire forced nearly 180,000 people to flee their homes over the weekend as historic winds pushed the state’s largest utility to cut electricity for millions of people in an effort to prevent more spreading. Thankfully, the fire ended on September 7th, 2019. Altogether, the stats show that the fire burned 77, 758 acres, destroyed 374 buildings, and thankfully, led to the death of 0 people.
The Saddleridge Fire started at around 9 in the morning on the north side of the 210 freeway. It was not too severe, but there was currently a windstorm gusting up to 60 mph. The fire blew over the intersection of 210 and 5 over to the south side, igniting more brush. Evacuations were ordered for the safety of the citizens living near the fire. The California Highway Patrol closed down both highways in both directions. Reports from those motorists say they were stuck in traffic for hours because of the fire.
Elsewhere, more troubles were brewing. Moreno Valley, Banning, Newberry Park, and the Kern County – LA County line were burning. Because of this, power lines had to be cut. The first batch of power cuts was with less than 5000 residents, but that number grew exponentially, and topped nearly 175,000. More than 23,000 homes were located in the required evacuation area, which extends to the Ventura County border. Several districts, including LAUSD, closed some schools, and residents fled to shelters to quickly fill several schools. Up to 50 miles per hour of burning coals were blown up, and fire authorities burned along the roof of Porter Ranch, about 10 miles from the fire site.
How to Deal With Fires-
- Get educated on how to use a fire extinguisher.
- Construct a disaster preparedness kit. Here are some basic things that should be inside the kits:
- Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.
- Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio
- NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert.
- Create a family emergency communication plan.
- Collect contact information for your family and other important contacts.
- Make sure everyone carries a copy of this information with them.
- Have regular household meetings to review and practice your plan.
- When evacuating the building, be sure to feel doors for heat before opening them to be sure there is no fire danger on the other side.
- If there is smoke in the air, stay low to the ground, especially your head, to reduce inhalation exposure.
- If the building has elevators, avoid using them, use the stairs.
- Don’t spend extra time to recover valuables.
- Follow your family emergency communication plan.
- Get out of the structure (if you are currently in one) and call 911.
- Immediately evacuate and stay out of the distance of the fire.
Hurricane Dorian was the first major hurricane in the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. It started on August 24, 2019 as a tropical wave and rapidly strengthened, becoming a hurricane only 4 days later. On August 31, 2019, Dorian strengthened to become a category 4 hurricane. On September 1, it finally reached category 5 intensity, while reaching the Bahamas. It was considered the worst storm system to hit the Bahamas. It stopped for about a day just above the Grand Bahamas. At the beginning of September 6, Dorian picked up speed and clipped North Carolina.
How to Deal with Hurricanes-
- Get a radio to hear significant storm updates, directions, and info.
- Go inside and avoid all fragile materials. Stay in a safe area. (Ex. an inner room, closet or 1st floor restroom.)
- Stay within the protection of your residence until there is absolute certainty that the area is clear of storms. With high winds still approaching, the storm’s eye could make a short-term and misleading interval.
- Make sure the refrigerator is closed so the cold air is trapped and prevent spoilage of perishable food, if power is lost.
- Follow all the manufacturer’s instructions if you use a portable generator. Generators must be properly grounded to prevent electrical shock and should never be operated indoors, in garages, ebasements or outdoors near any windows, doors or vents. Make sure you have a working CO detector in your home, because generators produce carbon monoxide (CO).
Many natural disasters cover the earth, so it is essential to know what to do. With these tips you should be more prepared for fires and Hurricanes. We hope that these tips are useful. – John Lee and Payton Suh.
Hurricane Dorian at Category 5 intensity approaching the northwestern Bahamas early Sunday morning: (NOAA)