California: The "Devil 's Breath" raises the forest fires – World Tagesspiegel

The Southern Californians know about the deadly danger. Not for nothing they call the coming from the northeast Santa Ana winds “devil’s breath”. Again and again, these diabolical winds increase the forest fires. As soon as a fire seems to be under control , it starts again somewhere else. The residents of Malibu, paradise for celebrities, live with this constant threat. You know what threatens when in late autumn, the air from the high plateau of the US states Nevada, Utah and Idaho flows down to the southwest and vigorously heated by the high altitude, as it crosses the Mojave desert and reaches the Pacific coast of California as a dry-hot wind.

At least two people were killed in the forest fire “Woolsey Fire”. Their bodies were found in the area between Los Angeles and Malibu in a vehicle on a private driveway. And the danger is not over yet. While some residents of Malibu were allowed to return to their homes on Sunday evening, the evacuation of the entire neighboring Calabasas was ordered. For the districts of Los Angeles and Ventura, the National Weather Service called warning level red because of extreme fire hazards.

A total of three major fires rage in California. More than 250,000 people have already had to vacate their homes , according to the command center in the Los Angeles district. The fiercest fire is raging in the north of the drought-stricken western coastal state. Forest fire in the region around the small town of Paradise north of Sacramento called “Camp Fire” killed 29 people according to the latest information from the authorities.

At least as many people have died in this fire as in the most deadly forest fire in the history of California, the “Griffith Park” fire in 1933. The number of dead could still increase. According to authorities, 228 people are missing. Since communication breaks down in places and the situation is chaotic, it can still take days for the relatives to be sure.

The “Camp Fire” has devastated a 45,000 hectare area to this day. In Paradise burned more than 6400 houses, the city is thus virtually completely destroyed . According to Cal Fire Fire Authority, the fire was only 25 percent contained on Sunday. The authorities expect that they will need another three weeks to extinguish all fires. After all, the third major fire, the “Hill Fire” in southern California, could be contained to 70 percent thanks to a massive fire extinguishing rate.

The political dispute over the question of guilt has already begun

Even as the more than 8,000 forces fight against the three fires, the dispute over the question of guilt has begun. US President Donald Trump likes to rail against the liberal California. Even in the face of the current disaster, he accuses the local authorities mismanagement and threatened with the withdrawal of federal funds. “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and expensive California fires except bad forest management,” he wrote on Twitter. The governor of California, Jerry Brown, rejected the criticism. Like numerous researchers, he sees the cause of the ongoing drought, the ever increasing forest fires and other weather extremes in climate change and the associated rising temperatures. “This is not the new normal, it’s the new abnormality,” said Brown.