California fire ‘tornado’ kills 2 firefighters, thousands flee

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A blackened landscape is shown from wildfire damage near Keswick, California, US, July 27, 2018. (REUTERS)
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A burned down car sit at a property under a deep orange sky during the Carr fire near Redding, California on July 27, 2018. (AFP)
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A power pole leans over a burned property as the sky turns a deep orange during the Carr fire near Redding, California on July 27, 2018. (AFP)
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A view of cars that were destroyed by the Carr Fire on July 27, 2018 in Redding, California. (AFP)
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Flames tower above a road during the Carr fire near Redding, California on July 27, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 28 July 2018
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California fire ‘tornado’ kills 2 firefighters, thousands flee

  • Wildfires have blackened an estimated 4.15 million acres (1.68 million hectares) in the United States this year
  • A 32-year-old man was charged with setting the Cranston fire, along with eight other blazes, and faces a potential life sentence

REDDING, California: A fast-growing northern California wildfire killed a second firefighter on Friday after high winds drove it into the city of Redding, prompting mass evacuations, destroying scores of homes and threatening some 5,000 other dwellings and businesses, officials said.
Flames raging in California’s scenic Shasta-Trinity area erupted into a firestorm that jumped across the Sacramento River and swept into the western side of Redding, home to about 90,000 people, forcing residents to flee.
Firefighters and police “went into life-safety mode,” hustling door to door to usher civilians out of harm’s way, said Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).
Streets in the Western town were all but deserted, with thick, sickly-brown smoke filling the air, and plumes of smoke rising to the west.
Gale-force winds on Thursday night created a fire “tornado” said CalFire Director Ken Pimlott.
“This fire was whipped up into a whirlwind of activity, uprooting trees, moving vehicles, moving parts of roadways,” Pimlott told a news briefing.
Such highly erratic, storm-like wildfires have grown commonplace in the state, Pimlott said.
“These are extreme conditions, this is how fires are in California,” he said. “We need to take heed and evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”
California has had its worst start to the fire season in a decade, with 289,727 acres burned through Friday morning, according to National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) data.
Governor Jerry Brown requested emergency federal assistance to prevent an “imminent catastrophe” as Shasta County tried to find supplies and water for 30,000 evacuated residents and care for horses and cattle rescued from ranches and farms.
CalFire reported 65 structures destroyed by the blaze, but McLean called that tally a “placeholder” figure that would grow significantly, with the number of homes lost likely to run into “the hundreds” as the scope of devastation was fully assessed.

CURTAIN OF SMOKE
The fire had scorched 44,450 acres (18,000 hectares) by Friday and was just 3 percent contained as ground crews, helicopters and airplanes battled the flames for a fifth day.
High temperatures and low humidity were expected for the next seven to ten days, said Pimlott.
“This fire is a long way from done,” he said.
The blaze was one of nearly 90 large fires burning nationally, most of them in the West. One of those prompted the closure of much of California’s Yosemite National Park.
Wildfires have blackened an estimated 4.15 million acres (1.68 million hectares) in the United States this year. That was well above average for the same period over the past 10 years but down from 5.27 million acres (2.13 million hectares) in the first seven months of 2017, NIFC reported.
The blaze in Redding, about 150 miles (240 km) north of Sacramento, on Thursday killed a bulldozer operator working with fire teams to clear brush around the fire. A member of the Redding Fire Department was also reported killed on Friday. A Redding hospital said it had treated eight people, including three firefighters.

THOUSANDS OF BUILDINGS IMPERILED
Rob Wright, 61, and his wife stayed to fight off flames with a high-powered water hose.
“We were fortunate enough that the wind changed hours ago, and it is pushing the fire back,” said Wright on Friday. “We are just waiting it out ... crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.”
Video and images posted on social media showed flames engulfing structures, as an orange glow lit up the sky.
A Red Cross employee told local ABC affiliate KRCR-TV some 500 people took shelter in an evacuation center at Shasta College. Motels were filled to capacity and livestock owners were told to take their animals to the town’s rodeo ground.
The Carr Fire, the name given to the Redding blaze,was one of three fierce blazes threatening large populated areas.
Cal Fire said the Cranston Fire, about 110 miles (177 km) east of Los Angeles had blackened 12,300 acres and was 16 percent contained. The Ferguson Fire near Yosemite, which has charred 46,675 acres, was 29 percent contained.
A 32-year-old man was charged with setting the Cranston fire, along with eight other blazes, and faces a potential life sentence if convicted of the charges.


Media urged to deny Christchurch shooting accused the publicity he seeks

Updated 10 min 25 sec ago
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Media urged to deny Christchurch shooting accused the publicity he seeks

  • “We’re just going to be very careful we don’t become a platform for any kind of extremist agenda,” say Radio New Zealand chief
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier urged the public not to speak the gunman's name to deny the infamy he wants

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: The media has been urged to stop naming the man charged with the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last week that left 50 people dead.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that she would never speak his name. In a speech to parliament, she urged the public to follow suit and deny the gunman the infamy he wants.
“I implore you, speak the names of those who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them,” she added. “He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name.”
Arden said the media can “play a strong role” in limiting coverage of extreme views such as his.
“Of course, people will want to know what is happening with the trial,” she said. “But I would hope there are ways that it could be covered without adding to the notoriety that this individual seeks.
“But the one thing I can assure you – you won’t hear me speak his name.”
The man accused of the mass shootings has so far been charged with one count of murder, but New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush has said further charges will be brought against him. The man said in a manifesto posted online shortly before the attacks that he intended to survive so that he could continue to spread his ideals, and that he intends to plead not guilty. He has said he plans to represent himself in court, although a judge can order a lawyer to assist him.
There have been calls for the media to refuse to report anything he says during the trial. Paul Thompson, the chief executive of Radio New Zealand, said his station will exercise caution and asked editors at all media outlets to take part in a discussion about covering the case.
“We’re just going to be very careful we don’t become a platform for any kind of extremist agenda,” he said, explaining that the station does not want to inflame the situation or become a party to the accused killer’s agenda.
Thompson described the case as “uncharted territory” but said he remains confident that his reporters will do their jobs professionally.
Dr Philip Cass, a senior lecturer in journalism at Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology, said the media will have to make “a very fine judgment” about what is reported if the accused killer uses the court as “a forum for the expression of his opinion.” He was wary, however, of calls to completely avoid reporting what is said in court.
“If you do that then we are moving into an area of censorship,” he said, adding that it is the media’s responsibility to provide a record of what is said and done.
Dr Catherine Strong, a journalism lecturer at Massey University, said she is confident that the media in New Zealand media will act responsibly. There is no legal or ethical imperative for journalists to report everything the accused says in court, she pointed out. The country’s media has already shown maturity by not using the name of the accused in headlines and by focusing on covering the shootings from the perspective of the victims, Strong added.

Hal Crawford, the chief news officer at MediaWorks, which owns TV3 and RadioLive in New Zealand, said, "Newshub is open to an industry-wide set of guidelines for reporting on Tarrant's trial, and we are in discussions with other newsrooms. Our aims are to minimise publicity of damaging ideology while reporting the workings of justice objectively." 

The man, who has not yet entered a plea, is due to appear in court again on April 5.