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Wildfire Forces Thousands From Popular Lake Tahoe Resort

Thousands of people rushed to leave South Lake Tahoe as the entire resort city came under evacuation orders and wildfire raced toward Lake Tahoe, a large freshwater lake straddling the California-Nevada border.  Evacuation warnings issued for the city of 22,000 on Sunday turned into orders Monday. Vehicles loaded with bikes and camping gear and hauling boats were stuck in traffic, stalled in hazy, brown air that smelled of campfire. Police and other emergency vehicles whizzed by.  “This is a systematic evacuation, one neighborhood at a time,” South Lake Tahoe police Lt. Travis Cabral said on social media. “I am asking you as our community to please remain calm.”  The new orders came a day after communities several miles south of the lake were abruptly ordered evacuated as the Caldor Fire raged nearby.  South Lake Tahoe’s main medical facility, Barton Memorial Hospital, proactively evacuated 36 patients needing skilled nursing and 16 in acute care beds Sunday, sending them to regional facilities far from the fire, public information officer Mindi Befu said. The rest of the hospital was evacuating following Monday’s expanded orders. The Caldor Fire burns as a chairlift sits motionless at the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort in Eldorado National Forest, Calif., Aug. 29, 2021.The Lake Tahoe area in the Sierra Nevada is a recreational paradise for San Francisco Bay Area locals looking for a weekend getaway, as well as a national destination. The area offers beaches, water sports, hiking, ski resorts and golfing.  South Lake Tahoe, at the lake’s southern end, bustles with outdoor activities, with casinos available in bordering Stateline, Nevada.  South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace prepared to leave with her husband, youngest child, dogs and items given to them from their deceased parent — objects that can’t be replaced.  She thought the Caldor Fire would stay farther away. Fires in the past did not spread so rapidly near the tourist city.  “It’s just yet another example of how wildfires have changed over the years,” she said. “It’s just a culmination of 14 to 18 more years of dead trees, the droughts we’ve had since then, those kinds of things.” The region faces a warning from the National Weather Service about critical fire weather Monday and Tuesday.  The fire destroyed multiple homes Sunday along Highway 50, one of the main routes to the lake’s south end. It also roared through the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort, demolishing some buildings but leaving the main buildings at the base intact.  Fire churned through mountains just a few miles southwest of the Tahoe Basin, where thick smoke sent visitors packing at a time when summer vacations would usually be in full swing ahead of Labor Day weekend. Vehicles idle in bumper-to-bumper traffic in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Aug. 30, 2021.There were reports of cabins burned in the unincorporated community of Echo Lake, where Tom Fashinell has operated Echo Chalet with his wife since 1984. The summer-only resort offers cabin rentals, but was ordered to close early for the season by the U.S. Forest Service because of the ongoing wildfires. Fashinell said he was glued to the local TV news.  “We’re watching to see whether the building survives,” he said.  The last major blaze in the area took South Lake Tahoe by surprise after blowing up from an illegal campfire in the summer of 2007. The Angora Fire burned less than 5 square miles (13 square kilometers) but destroyed 254 homes, injured three people and forced 2,000 people to flee. The Caldor Fire has scorched 277 square miles (717 square kilometers) since breaking out August 14. After the weekend’s fierce burning, containment dropped from 19% to 14%. More than 600 structures have been destroyed, and at least 20,000 more were threatened. It’s among nearly 90 large blazes in the U.S. Many are in the West, burning trees and brush sucked dry by drought. Climate change has made the region warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, according to scientists. In California alone, more than 15,200 firefighters are fighting more than a dozen large fires. Flames have destroyed about 2,000 buildings and forced thousands to evacuate this year while blanketing large swaths of the West in unhealthy smoke. In Southern California, a section of Interstate 15 closed Sunday after winds pushed a new blaze, the Railroad Fire, across lanes in the Cajon Pass northeast of Los Angeles. Farther south, evacuation orders and warnings were in place for remote communities after a wildfire ignited and spread quickly through the Cleveland National Forest on Saturday. A firefighter received minor injuries, and two structures were destroyed in the 2.3-square-mile (5.9-square-kilometer) Chaparral Fire burning along the border of San Diego and Riverside counties, according to Cal Fire. It was 13% contained Monday. Meanwhile, the Dixie Fire, the second-largest in state history at 1,205 square miles (3,121 square kilometers), was nearly halfway contained about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of the Lake Tahoe-area blaze. Nearly 700 homes were among almost 1,300 buildings that have been destroyed since the Dixie Fire began in early July. Containment increased to 26% on the French Fire, which covered nearly 40 square miles (104 square kilometers) in the southern Sierra Nevada. Crews protected forest homes on the west side of Lake Isabella, a popular recreation area northeast of Bakersfield. The U.S. Department of Defense is sending 200 Army soldiers from Washington state to help firefighters in Northern California, the U.S. Army North said in a statement Saturday. Eight Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130 aircraft capable of dropping thousands of gallons of fire retardant also have been sent to fight wildfires in the West. 
 

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Milan Mayor Says Cladding Melted in Tower Block Blaze, as in London’s Grenfell Tower

The mayor of Italy’s financial capital Milan demanded answers on Monday over why a fire was able to rip through an apartment block and melt its cladding, comparing it to the Grenfell Tower fire in London that killed 71 people four years ago. Firefighters said everyone managed to escape the 18 story building in the south of Milan, which was gutted by the blaze that broke out on Sunday afternoon. Among the residents in the high rise building was rapper Mahmood, winner of the 2019 San Remo music festival with his international hit “Soldi.” Witnesses have said the fire, which started on the 15th floor, quickly surged through the outside cladding of the building. Video of the blaze showed panels melting off the building in liquefied clumps. “The tower was built just over 10 years ago and it is unacceptable that such a modern building should have proved totally vulnerable,” mayor Beppe Sala wrote on Facebook. “What was clear from the start was that the building’s outer shell went up in flames far too quickly, in a manner reminiscent of the Grenfell Tower fire in London a few years ago.” The deaths in Britain’s Grenfell Tower fire were blamed on exterior cladding panels made of flammable material. Owners of flats in similar buildings across Britain have since been forced to remove such panels at a cost estimated to run into billions of dollars, forcing many residents into economic hardship.  

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Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Heads to Long-Awaited White House Visit

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is scheduled to visit the White House on Wednesday, September 1st. VOA’s Ostap Yarysh reports on the long-awaited meeting from Washington.Camera: Kostiantyn Golubchyk, Contributor: Myroslava Gongadze

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Росія: речниця Навального виїхала за кордон – «Інтерфакс»

16 серпня Ярмиш отримала 1,5 року обмеження волі у так званій «санітарній справі»

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Posted by Ukrap on

У Міжнародний день жертв насильницьких зникнень США нагадали Росії про її дії в Криму

США закликали Росію негайно припинити окупацію Криму, звільнити всіх українських політв’язнів і повернути повний контроль над півостровом Україні

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Posted by Ukrap on

ООС: бойовики стріляли тричі, втрат немає

Біля Новозванівки бойовики стріляли зі станкових протитанкових і автоматичних станкових гранатометів та великокаліберних кулеметів, неподалік Шумів – зі станкових протитанкових гранатометів і стрілецької зброї, поблизу Троїцького – з великокаліберних кулеметів

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No Cash or Gas to Run from Ida: ‘We Can’t Afford to Leave’

Robert Owens was feeling defeated and helpless Sunday as he waited in Louisiana’s capital city for landfall by one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the U.S.  The 27-year-old had spent anxious days watching long lines of cars evacuating from Baton Rouge, bound for safer locations out of state as Hurricane Ida approached. He had hoped he and his wife, his mother-in-law, roommate and four pets would be among them. But leaving would have required money for gas and a hotel room — something they didn’t have.  Out of desperation, Owens went to ACE Cash Express on Saturday and submitted documents for a payday loan. He was denied, told he didn’t have enough credit history.  By Sunday, it was clear they would be riding out the storm at home in his family’s duplex apartment.  “Our bank account is empty – we can’t afford to leave,” he said.  Owens said most people in his low-income neighborhood are in the same predicament. They want to leave to protect families but have no choice but to stay.  “A lot of us here in my neighborhood have to just hunker down and wait, not knowing how bad it’s going to get. It’s a terrifying feeling,” he said. “There are people who have funds to lean on are able to get out of here, but there’s a big chunk of people that are lower-income that don’t have a savings account to fall on,” he continued. “We’re left behind.” By Sunday night at 9 p.m., Owens said his family and all others in his neighborhood had lost power. The sky was lighting up green from transformers blowing up all around them, he said. Several trees had collapsed on neighbors’ properties, but it was too dark to see the full extent of the damage. Owens said they were trying to use a flashlight to survey the street but were wary of jeopardizing their safety.  “Never in my life have I encountered something this major,” he said as giant gusts rattled his home’s windows.  He said there were a few times when it sounded like the roof of his duplex might come off. He said his wife was packing a bag of clothes and essentials, just in case.  “We’ll shelter in the car if we lose the house,” he said. The family all share his wife’s Toyota Avalon, a vehicle “not nearly big enough” to shelter four people, three dogs and a cat.  Earlier in the day, Owens said he was hurriedly placing towels under leaking windows in his duplex and charging electronics. He tried to go to Dollar General and Dollar Tree to pick up food, but they were closed. His family has lights glued around the walls of the house. They planned to hide in the laundry room or the kitchen when the storm hits — places without windows. “There’s a general feeling of fear in not knowing what’s going to be the aftermath of this,” he said. “That’s the most concerning thing. Like, what are we going to do if it gets really bad? Will we still be alive? Is a tree going fall on top of us?” Owens said his mother-in-law is on disability. His roommates both work for Apple iOS tech support. His wife works scheduling blood donations. All of them rely on the internet to work from home, and if it goes out, they won’t be able to bring in any money. “We might be without work, and rent, power, water, all of those bills will still be needing to get paid,” he said. “We are a little bit concerned about losing our utilities or even our house — if it’s still standing — because we’re not going to have the money for any other bills.” He said it’s hard to feel so vulnerable, like his family is getting left behind. “The fact that we are not middle class or above, it just kind of keeps coming back to bite us over and over again, in so many different directions and ways — a simple pay-day advance being one of them,” he said. “It’s like we’re having to pay for being poor, even though we’re trying to not be poor.” 

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Hurricane Ida Weakens into Tropical Storm but Remains a Threat

Hurricane Ida has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it is still packing a powerful punch to New Orleans and nearby regions. The National Hurricane Center says Ida is responsible for “dangerous storm surge, damaging winds, and flash flooding” over southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Entergy, the power company that provides electricity to New Orleans said in a statement Sunday: “As a result of Hurricane Ida’s catastrophic intensity, all eight transmission lines that deliver power into the New Orleans area are currently out of service. . . Power will not be restored this evening, but we will continue work to remedy.”New Orleans is “completely without power,” according to nola.com, and to fix the problem could take “days, but potentially longer” because one of the towers used in providing power to the city has fallen into the Mississippi River. The power outage has also affected portions of Mississippi. Between Louisiana and Mississippi, more than a million customers are in the dark. Early Monday, the New Orleans Emergency Communications Center posted on Twitter that the city’s 911 emergency response system was not working. “At this time, 9-1-1 is experiencing technical difficulties. If you find yourself in an emergency, please go to your nearest fire station or approach your nearest officer. We will update you once this issue has been resolved.”The first death from Ida has been reported, the result of a fallen tree. Tropical Storm Ida is moving with maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour, the hurricane center said Monday. A storm surge warning is in effect for Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border.A tropical storm warning is in effect for Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Metropolitan New Orleans.A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.Cars drive through flood waters along route 90 as outer bands of Hurricane Ida arrive on Aug. 29, 2021, in Gulfport, Miss.Sixteen years ago, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina came ashore in Louisiana as a Category 3 storm. Katrina was blamed for 1,800 deaths, levee breaches and devastating flooding in New Orleans. The city’s federal levee system has been improved since then, and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards predicted the levees would hold.“Will it be tested? Yes. But it was built for this moment,” he said. Before Ida arrived, Edwards declared a state of emergency and said 5,000 National Guard troops were standing by along the coast for search and rescue efforts. In addition, 10,000 linemen were ready to respond to electrical outages once the storm passed. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey also declared a state of emergency for coastal and western counties in the state.New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered people who live outside the city’s protective levee system to evacuate. And she urged those who remained in the city to hunker down.“As soon the storm passes, we’re going to put the country’s full might behind the rescue and recovery,” President Joe Biden said after a briefing at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington.The president said he had signed emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi and has been in touch with the governors of those two states and Alabama. The Gulf Coast region’s hospitals now face a natural disaster as they are struggling with a surge in patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, due to the highly contagious delta variant. “COVID has certainly added a challenge to this storm,” Mike Hulefeld, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Ochsner Health, told the Associated Press.Edwards said about 2,500 people are being treated for COVID-19 in the state’s hospitals as the hurricane passes through. Since the start of the pandemic, Louisiana has had 679,796 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12,359 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Its vaccine tracker says just 41% of the state’s nearly 4.7 million population are vaccinated.“Once again we find ourselves dealing with a natural disaster in the midst of a pandemic,” Jennifer Avegno, the top health official for New Orleans, told the AP.Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.