14 Nov Wildfire chaos around the globe
Wildfires that have swept through the California counties of Sonoma and Napa have claimed more than 40 deaths and destroyed many acres of the area’s famous wine producing vineyards.
The blazes have also destroyed at least 5,700 homes and businesses, making them the deadliest and most destructive group of wildfires in California history.
Some 300 people still remain unaccounted for, though officials hope that most of them would have survived among the 100,000 residents who evacuated the area to escape the flames.
America’s Republican politicians have launched a campaign to approve tree cutting in national forests to help combat the spread of wildfires and the damage they cause to the environment.
They forest-thinning projects would help reduce the risk from wild fires which in the past month have claimed 43 human lives in California, a state record.
Wyoming state Senator John Barrasso said: “We must ask ourselves: What kind of future are we leaving for the next generation when we have failed to conserve federal forests that overwhelm the sky with thick smoke and ash when they burn?”
Republicans claim the American timber industry has long complained about environmental rules that make it difficult to cut down trees to reduce fire risk. Plans to harvest trees on federal lands can take years to win approval.
In Europe, unusually hot and dry summer conditions were blamed for an outbreak of huge wildfires which claimed over 31 lives in Portugal and three more across the border in the Galicia region of Spain.
Thousands of firefighters were deployed to battle the 145 blazes which also caused more than 52 people to be injured.
However, the firefighters efforts to control the fires were thwarted as Hurricane Ophelia approached Europe’s western coastline produced strong winds to fan and spread the flames.