Newswire: California forest fire burns out of control near Yosemite

The Oak Fire burns behind a scorched pickup truck in the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Sunday, July 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

By: Noah Berger and Christopher Weber, Associated Press from the Skanner


JERSEYDALE, Calif. July 24(AP) — A destructive wildfire near Yosemite National Park that was burning out of control Sunday through tinder-dry forest land has grown into one of California’s biggest blazes of the year, forcing thousands of residents to flee remote mountain communities.
Some 2,000 firefighters battled the Oak Fire, along with aircraft and bulldozers, facing tough conditions that includes steep terrain, sweltering temperatures and low humidity, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
“It’s hot out there again today,” Cal Fire spokesperson Natasha Fouts said Sunday. “And the fuel moisture levels are critically low.”
Light winds were blowing embers ahead into tree branches “and because it’s so dry, it’s easy for the spot fires to get established and that’s what fuels the growth,” Fouts said.
The fire erupted Friday southwest of the park near the town of Midpines in Mariposa County. Officials described “explosive fire behavior” on Saturday as flames made runs through bone-dry vegetation caused by the worst drought in decades.
By Sunday the blaze had consumed more than 22 square miles (56 square km) of forest land, with no containment, Cal Fire said. The cause was under investigation.
Evacuations were in place for over 6,000 people living across a several-mile span of the sparsely populated area in the Sierra Nevada foothills, though a handful of residents defied the orders and stayed behind, said Adrienne Freeman with the U.S. Forest Service.
Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for Mariposa County due to the fire’s effects.
Flames destroyed at least 10 residential and commercial structures and damaged five others, Cal Fire said. Assessment teams were moving through mountain towns to check for additional damage, Fouts said.
Numerous roads were closed, including a stretch of State Route 140 that’s one of the main routes into Yosemite.
California has experienced increasingly larger and deadlier wildfires in recent years as climate change has made the West much warmer and drier over the past 30 years. Scientists have said weather will continue to be more extreme and wildfires more frequent, destructive and unpredictable.
Pacific Gas & Electric said on its website that more than 3,100 homes and businesses in the area had lost power as of Sunday and there was no indication when it would be restored. “PG&E is unable to access the affected equipment,” the utility said as flames roared Friday.
The Oak Fire was sparked as firefighters made progress against an earlier blaze, the Washburn Fire, that burned to the edge of a grove of giant sequoias in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park. The 7.5-square-mile (19-square-km) fire was nearly 80% contained after burning for two weeks and moving into the the Sierra National Forest.

Newswire : . HUD Says deregulation, not affordable housing, needed to solve homelessness

By Charlene Crowell, Special to The Informer

Homeless man on the streets

For more than a decade, economists, lawmakers and others have heralded the nation’s economy. Often citing how unemployment has declined as new jobs have been created, or Wall Street trading and major bank profits rising, some might be led to believe that all is well in America.
But as Sportin’ Life in the folk opera “Porgy and Bess” sang, “It ain’t necessarily so.”
On Sept. 16, California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined by state officials representing cities and counties wrote a letter that urged President Donald Trump to recognize homelessness as a “national crisis decades in the making that demands action at every level of government to alleviate California’s homeless.

Carson’s Sept. 18 reply said in part, “California cannot spend its way out of this problem using Federal funds…More vouchers are clearly not the solution the State needs. To address this crisis, California must reduce its regulatory burdens on housing.”

Advocates for homeless and low-income people strongly disagreed with Carson’s assessment. “We know that the number one cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing,” said Megan Hustings, managing director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

“Consumers are already struggling with crushing debt from student loans and medical expenses, or facing triple-digit interest rates when they attempt to access small-dollar loans,” noted Marisabel Torres, director of California Policy with the Center for Responsible Lending, “When they also have to pay some of the highest housing costs in the nation, it is unfortunately unsurprising that there are such large numbers of homeless people in many of California’s large cities.

“California’s homeless may be the largest by state, but the problem is a national one that deserves to be recognized and acted upon,” Torres said.

In 1987 there was an expression of national will to respond to America’s homeless through enactment of the McKinney Homeless Act. That statute created the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness dedicating the ongoing support of 19 federal agencies to prevent and end homelessness. HUD is one of the participating agencies. The Council on Homelessness even has a written plan, “Home, Together,” that lays out federal remedies over the fiscal years of 2018-2022.

Charlene Crowell is the communications deputy director with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.
This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.