From Fire to Flood: New Weather Shifts in California

In past weeks’ news, wildfires and the threat of fire damage have dominated the headlines. Now,  with the incoming El Niño weather fronts, concerns over flooding have overtaken the headlines. Only hours after a wildfire along Cajon Pass was contained, the same region experienced record-breaking rainfalls that washed out an interstate in the area.


“It’s a sweet promising start,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, about the rainfall but then added: “Except for all the damage it does…. Be careful for what you wish for. Great droughts usually end in great floods.”

Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit had another take on the recent flooding.

“This is the worst damage I’ve ever seen from rain,” he said as he looked over the twisted metal rebar from the collapsed bridge. “You build for the 100-year event. But sometimes nature tells you, ‘Hey, we are still in charge.’ ”

Damage Done

Whether fire or flood damage is your primary concern, it’s important to maintain contact with your insurance company to learn the proper reporting procedures. You never know when you’ll need to call upon the aid of a restoration services provider.

Arsonists Cause 1 in 5 California Wildfires

With summer underway, California residents are well aware of the persistent risk of fire damage to their homes, especially from wildfires. What many do not know, however, is that many of these fires are done deliberately out of malice. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 1 in 5 wildfires have been attributed to arson since 2007. Just last year, over 1000 wildfires were started deliberately.

Scorched area of an arson-caused fire in 2006
Scorched area of an arson-caused fire in 2006

“We investigate all fires, and arson is one potential cause of many,” saidCalFire Investigator Jennifer Ricci, adding, “There has to be an ignition source. That’s our job — to figure out that ignition source.”

One individual that was recently arrested is connected to nearly 11 wildfires since 2012.

“To commit arson during these drought conditions is an exceptionally heinous act and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent under the law,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CalFire.

Regardless of the source, once fire gets going, it’s a challenge to stop. It’s important that California residents be prepared for any fire regardless of source.

“All fires are destructive,” said Ricci, adding, “Whatever causes that fire, the end result is the same. The fire doesn’t know the difference.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, arson is the most frequent cause of household fire damage other than fires from appliances such as heating and cooking devices. Deliberate fires are usually done with either destructive intent or the intent to collect on insurance money.

Firework Safety and Fire Damage

In the wake of extreme dryness and prevalent wildfires across the state, many California cities have opted out of this year’s fireworks-based Fourth of July festivities, as USA Today reports:

“Fire fears have escalated since last year’s celebrations. The fourth year of a drought has produced tinder-like conditions. More than 71% of the state is in an extreme drought and 47% is in exceptional drought, characterized by ‘shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies,’ according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

In Eldorado, Calif., firefighters this week battled three grass fires that had started from lightning strikes.

According to Cal Fire, last year there were over 300 fires in the state sparked by fireworks. Fireworks approved by the state fire marshal are on sale in 300 communities in California.

‘As we head into the fourth summer of a severe drought, it is more important than ever that everyone use an abundance of caution to avoid sparking a fire,’ said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CAL FIRE, in a statement earlier this week.

Firework Safety:

The National Council on Fireworks Safety has a list of recommendations to minimize the risk of fire damage:

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities.  Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.  Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.