Urban wildfire: When homes are the fuel for a runaway blaze, how do you rebuild a safer community?

TALENT, Oregon — Late morning on Sept. 8, forest scientist Dominick DellaSala sat at the desk in his home office to do a final edit on a newspaper opinion piece. The topic: The need to better prepare for catastrophic wildfires — or “black swan events” — that can rampage through neighborhoods.

His computer screen went dark. The power had gone out.

He went outside to investigate the outage. Looking south, he spotted a dense cloud of smoke.

“This was totally black. It was huge. And it was heading in our direction,” DellaSala recalls.

DellaSala spent the next few hours up on his roof, cleaning out gutters and hosing down the asphalt shingles before evacuating. His home was spared as the fire veered away from his street, but more than 2,800 structures and three people were killed in one of the most destructive wildfires in Northwest history.

https://www.seattletimes.com/Forest scientist Dominick DellaSala surveys the field near  a dog park that was the ignition point for the Almeda Fire, one of the most destructive in Oregon’s history. (Hal Bernton / The Seattle Times)
Forest scientist Dominick DellaSala
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California wildfires rage as wine country blaze forces evacuation of hospital, thousands of homes

Thousands of homes and a hospital have been evacuated in California’s wine country as a fast-spreading wildfire has exploded in size Monday with another day of dangerous fire conditions in a badly scorched state.

Cal Fire said the blazes, dubbed the Glass Incident, have now grown to at least 11,000 acres and remains 0% contained as it threatens neighborhoods and vineyards in Napa and Sonoma Counties, located about 75 miles north of San Francisco. The blaze started early Sunday.

“Two additional fires have started overnight and been merged with the Glass Incident,” the agency said Monday morning.


The wildfire began as the Glass Fire north of St. Helena before moving at a “dangerous rate of spread.”

A firetruck travels on the Silverado Trail as a hillside goes up in flames during the Glass Fire in St. Helena, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020.

A firetruck travels on the Silverado Trail as a hillside goes up in flames during the Glass Fire in St. Helena,

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