"A Fire Story": a moving, beautiful memoir of the Calistoga wildfire in comics form

In 2017, cartoonist Brian Fies lost his northern California home in the Calistoga wildfires; in the days after, working with the cheap art supplies he was able to get from a surviving big box store, he drew A Fire Story, a strip about how he and his wife barely managed to escape their home ahead of the blaze, and about life after everything you own (and everything your neighbors own) is reduced to ash and slag. The strip went viral, and in the months after, Fies adapted it into a deeply moving, beautiful book. Read the rest

Telcoms lobbyists oppose ban on throttling firefighters' internet during wildfires

The CTIA is America's top telcoms lobbying organization, and they're trying to kill AB1699, a proposed California law that would ban carriers from throttling firefighters' internet access, as Verizon did in 2018, then lied about, then launched a charm offensive to defend. Read the rest

Privatized energy utilities are burning down their states, but antitrust can make them stop

Pacific Gas and Electric has gone from Wall Street darling to bankruptcy, thanks to the $30 billion in liability from the fires that were started in California by its power-lines. Read the rest

Climate change is fueling wildfires, warns National Climate Assessment

Climate change is why California is burning, and thousands of its citizens displaced, injured, or killed by the wildfires that spread with never-before-seen intensity. Read the rest

San Francisco Uber driver distributing filter masks to passengers

At times this week, wildfires made San Francisco's air the worst in the world, and the city's stores have largely sold out of the N95 filter masks that make the air barely breathable, leading to at least one enterprising Uber driver selling the masks out of his car (at a substantial markup: $5 each, compared with $1.30 each on Amazon in ten-packs); other drivers are giving the masks away for free. (via /.) Read the rest

Gilded Age watch: America's firefighting is turning into a two-tier system, with private services for the 1%

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's $50,000,000 Calabasas, California mansion was spared from last week's wildfires thanks to the actions of private firefighters working on behalf of insurers who've written policies on about 1,000 of California's priciest homes. Read the rest

Fascinating overview of how firefighters fight wildfires

Wildfires are a natural part of many ecosystems, though more and more are human-caused. Wendover Productions takes a look at how firefighters work to minimize the spread of wildfires in grueling and dangerous conditions. Read the rest

Santa Clara fire department: Verizon's pants are on fire

When Verizon's life-threatening price-gouging was introduced in a sworn statement from the Santa Clara County Fire Department as part of 22 states' lawsuits against the FCC over its dismantling of Net Neutrality rules, Verizon's crisis communications team leapt into action. Read the rest

Startling space image of California wildfire smoke plume

On Sunday, NASA's Earth-monitoring Terra satellite captured this image of a smoke plume from the brutal Alamo Fire blazing in the County of Santa Barbara, California. According to the County, more than 600 firefighters have contained about 45% of the fire that's currently burning across 28,926 acres. It started on July 6. Read the rest

Tar sands production in Canada pretty much shut down by Fort McMurray wildfire

Almost all of Canada's tar sands production has been shut down by a raging wildfire in Alberta's Fort McMurray region. Read the rest

Two great long reads about fire, science, and the human lives caught in between

At Outside, Kyle Dickman interviews the lone survivor of the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting team and tells the story of the decisions that lead to the deaths of 19 men. Read it, and then head over to The New York Times Magazine, which has an amazing piece by Paul Tullis about the scientists, fire fighters, and forest rangers who are trying to get a better handle on how wildfires behave ... and how best to control and limit the damage they cause. That's no small task when you're talking about a force of nature capable of creating its own weather systems. Read the rest

The science of deadly fires

Investigators are still trying to understand what happened to the 19 firefighters who were killed last weekend in Arizona, while battling a wildfire. Climatewire's Nathanael Massey explains how a dangerous-but-dealable blaze can quickly become something much more deadly. Read the rest

How much of a factor is climate change in the 2012 Western US wildfires? Ask a NASA JPL scientist.

JPL Climatologist Bill Patzert, on the current wildfire outbreak in the Western United States, and the role of climate change: "What's really changed in recent years is that there are more and more people building and living at the urban/wildland interface, so the human impact is greater every time these great fires erupt (...) Looking to the future, the uncertainties of human-influenced climate change will play a stronger and stronger role, and rewrite our fiery history." More here. Read the rest