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Heat wave 2021, fire safety measures in USA

New record-breaking

New record-breaking temperatures are expected in the United States this week.

In the other hand, neighbouring Canada is putting in place safety measures against forest fires.

The United States could set new heat wave 2021 as several western regions of the country.

Its 30 million people endure a heat wave USA, the second in weeks.

In neighbouring Canada, authorities announced emergency measures to prevent forest fires in "extreme weather conditions".

The number of fires in the province of British Columbia rose on Sunday to 298, 50 of which started in the last two days.

Heat wave 2021, fire safety measures in USA



A dangerous heat wave will affect much of the western United States, with record-breaking temperatures likely," the National Weather Service (NWS) warned Sunday.

The Canadian weather service is predicting maximum temperatures approaching 32 degrees Celsius in the west, well above seasonal norms.

In the United States, temperatures rose over the weekend along most of the Pacific coast and in large inland areas west of the rockies.


All-time record in Vegas

According to the NWS, Las Vegas equalled its all-time record on Saturday by reaching 47.2 degrees Celsius.

A mark the city in the Nevada desert first reached in 1942 and three times since 2005.

On Sunday, the mercury is expected to drop only slightly in the city.

Therefore, it could peak at 52.2 degrees Celsius (126 degrees Fahrenheit) in California's Death Valley, known as the hottest place in the US.

Forecasters have issued an alert for the greater Las Vegas area as well as several other urban centres including Phoenix (south) and San Jose.

"More than 30 million people are affected by a heat alert or warning," the NWS said Saturday.

All-time record in Vegas


They are adding that the dangerous high temperatures and dry conditions were expected to continue Sunday.

The new heat wave USA comes less than three weeks after a previous one hit the western United States and Canada in late June.

That is resulting in heat wave for three days in a row in the Canadian province of British Columbia country.

The number of deaths caused by this first heat wave is not yet known but is estimated to be in the hundreds.


Safety measures against heat wave 2021

As a result, a ministerial order provides for "preventive safety measures (...) against forest fires".

Including the reduction of train speed when the temperature exceeds 30°C and the level of fire danger for the area is "extreme".

In addition, until 31 October 2021, no locomotive will be allowed to operate in these areas unless it has been inspected within the previous 15 days.

Also it is taken to ensure that "the locomotive's exhaust systems are free of combustible materials storage".

 

Trains are a common cause of forest fires, especially if their spark arrestors have not been properly maintained.

Several roads and highways in Columbia country were closed as the government rated the risk of fires in the province as "extreme".

Evacuation orders were also issued in a dozen communities across the province.

On Friday, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada announced it was sending an investigation team "following fire in Lytton possibly involving a goods train.

So far, human activity has caused global temperatures to rise by about 1.1 degrees Celsius, leading to more destructive storms.

It is more intense heat waves, droughts and more forest fires.

The last six years are the six warmest years on record.


Creating buffer zones

The year 2020 was the worst in California's modern history in terms of fires, with more than 1.5 million hectares going up in smoke.

With the continuing drought and climate change, authorities fear that these large-scale disasters are now the norm. So any help is welcome.

"We started hearing a lot about goats from residents, other firefighters, other cities, and the more we looked into them.

The more we realised they could be very effective and environmentally friendly," Glendale fire captain Jeffrey Ragusa told AFP.


Part of the device

In addition to helping limit the spread of fire by eating easily flammable vegetation, the goats create buffer zones between wooded areas and homes.

These corridors will allow firefighters to intervene, if necessary, in a "safer environment", by keeping the flames at a distance, explains Jeffrey Ragusa.

Of course, the animals are only one part of the firefighting system. But their help is valuable, says Ragusa.

They take some of the pressure of the humans contracted by the fire brigade.

They have to toil in the often sweltering heat to clear the sometimes difficult and steep terrain for long hours.

Also, they have a heavy workload before and during the intense fire season.


Not to mention that "There is always a risk of injury to personnel," the fire captain points out.

Whereas "I've never seen a goat slip before," he adds with a smile.

Without revealing how much the goats are charged for their labour.

The company Sage Environmental Group estimates it to be equivalent to what the authorities would pay for human workers.

In Glendale, the project is currently a pilot and will be evaluated, says Jeffrey Ragusa.

But "so far the programme is going really well, we are really happy with the results".

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