by WorldTribune Staff, September 15, 2020
Is climate change the culprit behind the wildfires raging on the West Coast?
Or is it more a combination of loony leftist policies and disturbed individuals who like to set fires for thrills?
Policies initiated by leftists 30 years ago helped paved the way for the wildfires that are devastating California, Oregon and Washington today, an analyst said.
Shortly before he left office in 2001, President Bill Clinton limited the ability of the United States Forest Service to thin out a dense thicket of foliage and downed trees on federal land, Bob Zybach, an experienced forester with a PhD in environmental science, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Clinton’s Roadless Rule restricted the use of existing roads and construction of new roads on 49 million acres of National Forest, making it difficult for officials to scan the land for the kind of kindling that fuels massive wildfires.
The former president’s decision created a ticking time bomb, Zybach said.
“If you don’t start managing these forests, then they are going to start burning up. Thirty years later, they are still ignoring it,” said Zybach, who spent more than 20 years as a reforestation contractor. He was referring to warnings he made years ago, telling officials that warding off prescribed burns in Oregon and California creates kindling fueling fires.
Prominent leftists including former President Barack Obama and Sen. Chuck Schumer are blaming climate change for the fires.
Zybach is not convinced, telling the Daily Caller: “The lack of active land management is almost 100 percent the cause.”
University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass told the Daily Caller in 2018: “Global warming may contribute slightly, but the key factors are mismanaged forests, years of fire suppression, increased population, people living where they should not, invasive flammable species, and the fact that California has always had fire.”
Then there are the arsonists, lots of them. Following is a partial summary based on reports from the NY Times, San Francisco Chronicle, local TV reports and social media:
- Domingo Lopez Jr., a suspect in Oregon who was arrested, and released, for starting a brush fire on Sunday was arrested again on Monday for starting six more small fires, reports said.
Local reports noted:
On Sunday, at 4:35 p.m., East Precinct officers were dispatched to assist Portland Fire and Rescue with a brush fire in the 9600 block of East Burnside Street. Officers saw that a section of grass along the I-205 freeway was burning. Firefighters extinguished the fire. No one was injured and no structures were damaged.
About an hour later, East officers were flagged down by a witness who pointed out Lopez in a nearby tent. Officers arrested the suspect, who confirmed he lit the fire. Officers seized a plastic bottle with a wick as evidence.
On Monday, at 3:37 a.m., East Precinct officers were dispatched with Portland Fire and Rescue to a report of multiple fires burning along the west side of the I-205 freeway. Portland Fire and Rescue extinguished three of them while passing community members put out the other three. All were caught early. No one was injured and no structures were burnt. Officers located Lopez walking along the shoulder and arrested him. They seized a lighter as evidence.
“How many times do you have to set a fire before they don’t just release you to walk the streets until your court date?” one observer noted.
- In another incident, a suspect was caught on a security camera starting a brush fire in Keslo, Washington.
A resident posted on Facebook: “My mom and daughter were put in danger today when some (excuse my language) f*cking dumb a** decided to light my moms tree on fire while my daughter and my mom were home. Everyone was screaming getting their hose to put the flames out. If this is funny and ppl think it’s a joke it’s not my FAMILY was put at risk this morning including her neighbor. I never been so sick to my stomach. Thank GOD everyone is ok and thank you and shout out to Kelso Police Department and Kelso firefighters for protecting my family and rushing to help. I can’t thank you enough. Thank GOD my mom has secruity cameras outside and was able to give the evidence to police. Please pray this guy is caught!!!!! Never been so scared in my life. I hugged my daughter who was in tears I can’t imagine how scared she was.”
- In Oregon, reports say a woman found a suspected arsonist on her property over the weekend and held him at gunpoint on the ground until police arrived. She reportedly told the man that if her husband had caught him he’d be dead.
The Taxpayers Association of Oregon reported on Friday that five cases of arson have occurred in the past few weeks across Oregon, Washington and California.
- Police arrested a man for arson over Sweet Creek Fires, according to a Lane County Police announcement. The Oregonian notes “A 44-year-old man was arrested Tuesday (Sept. 8) on suspicion of arson in a wildfire that has burned nearly 400 acres and prompted evacuations west of Eugene, deputies say.”
- Police in Washington arrested a man who was caught setting a fire in the brush along SR-167. Police were forced to close the northbound ramp on the highway.
- Ashland Police suspect arson in Almeda fire. The New York Times reported: “Three law enforcement agencies in Oregon, including the Ashland Police Department and the State Police, said they had opened an arson investigation for the Almeda Fire.”
- Arson arrest in Spokane: KHQ-TV 6 News is reporting that police have arrested a woman for multiple arson incidences. “According to Spokane Police, Officer Mohondro arrived on scene he saw some grass and a pallet on fire outside of a commercial business… The same officer spotted another fire a few blocks away. SPD said the fire was next to an old oil drum under a tree which gave the fire the potential to explode into something much larger.”
- Arson arrest in California fire: The San Fransisco Chronicle reported that “Ivan Geronimo Gomez, 31, of Fresno was arrested and booked into Monterey County Jail on Aug. 19 after state park rangers detained him near the fire’s origin point, the Sheriff’s Office said. Sheriff’s detectives arrested him on suspicion of five charges, including arson of forestland, setting his bail at $2 million. Jail records list illegal marijuana cultivation as another charge, along with throwing objects at a vehicle with intent to cause great bodily harm, battery and exhibiting a deadly weapon that wasn’t a gun.”