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Laos dam collapse highlights global hydropower amnesia (commentary)

first_imgArticle published by Mike Gaworecki The Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam collapse should not be considered an accident. Rather, it resulted from global ignorance of the many downsides of large dams and of well-documented lessons learned over and over again.Across the developing world, dams continue to forcibly displace and thereby impoverish millions of people, drain national budgets, emit greenhouse gases, and destroy the ecological balance of entire river basins — balances on which millions of people intimately depend.Backed by recent research, here are five key things that governments, development financiers, and other proponents of development-by-dams seem to consistently forget.This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. When the dam broke, it brought with it a torrent of water and mud, killing at least 31 people and displacing upwards of 6,000 people across Laos and Cambodia. Reported numbers of those still missing range from “many” to “hundreds.” The flood, by even the secretive Lao government’s conservative estimates, would have been enough to drown Manhattan in 28 feet of water.This is what the hydropower boom has come to in Laos. And yet, the deaths and destruction so evident following the July 22 collapse are only the most visible consequences of the country’s dam-building efforts and the hydropower boom globally.Across the developing world, dams continue to forcibly displace and thereby impoverish millions of people, drain national budgets, emit greenhouse gases, and destroy the ecological balance of entire river basins — balances on which millions of people intimately depend. At the same time, climate change — and the droughts and superstorms it exacerbates — is rendering hydroelectricity the most vulnerable source of power on offer.Backed by recent research, here are five key things that governments, development financiers, and other proponents of development-by-dams seem to consistently forget.1. Large dams have displaced tens of millions of people, impoverishing many in the process. And the trend is not abating.In 2015, in a rare but welcome move, the World Bank owned up to its complicity in a concerning trend that frequently falls under the radar: infrastructure projects, often advertised with the primary aim of poverty alleviation, forcibly displace millions of people per year. In more cases than not, the most vulnerable of local populations are the ones who suffer, and neither their governments, nor any other projects proponents, typically compensate them for their losses.According to Dr. Michael Cernea, one of the world’s leading resettlement experts and former World Bank Senior Adviser for Sociology and Social Policy, large hydropower dams constitute the sector responsible for the most displacement. Drawing on World Bank data in a new book, Cernea estimates that in the period from 2011 to 2020 more than 200 million people will have been forcibly displaced by development projects worldwide.The magnitude of resettlement required by even a single dam can be massive. Brazil’s Sobradinho Dam ousted 65,000. India’s Narmada Dam project forced out more than 200,000. In 2002, the World Commission on Dams estimated that, throughout history, dams have displaced 40 to 80 million people in total.A fisherman checks his traps in the Srepok River near Kbal Romeas Village, Cambodia. Earlier this year, the Lower Sesan 2 dam flooded the village and others around it, forcibly displacing 5,000 people in total. Scientists predict that the same dam will knock out 9 percent of the entire Lower Mekong basin’s annual fish catch. Photo by Gus Greenstein. November 2014.From 1990-2010, more than 1,400 World Bank projects triggered the institution’s “Involuntary Resettlement Policy.” Compensation for the displaced, even by the Bank’s standards, was dismal. Fewer than 50 percent of those displaced by these projects had their livelihoods “restored.” At the same time, the World Bank is known to have some of the strongest social-environmental safeguards of any development financier. Development-induced impoverishment numbers associated with other financiers are likely much higher, but such data do not exist.2. More often than not, large dams run over budget and under-deliver on benefits — severely enough, in some cases, to put entire national economies at risk.Without even taking into account the economic destruction wrought by forced displacement, and without even considering environmental impacts, large dams are simply not worth their cost.Analyzing a sample of 245 large dams, the most comprehensive dataset of its kind, Oxford economists found that “the capital sunk into building nearly half of the dams could not be recovered.” Much of this stems from poor cost-benefit forecasting. They uncover “overwhelming evidence that budgets are systematically biased below actual costs of large hydropower dams — excluding inflation, substantial debt servicing, environmental, and social costs.”Here, again, the burden of a single dam can be enormous: the authors’ model predicts that Pakistan’s under-construction Diamer-Bhasha dam, initially forecast to cost $12.7 billion, will ultimately require $35 billion (both 2008 dollars) — roughly one quarter of the country’s GDP.There may even be global consequences to such project development. In a subsequent study on China’s international infrastructure boom, the same Oxford team finds that “poorly managed infrastructure investments are a main explanation of surfacing economic and financial problems in China.”The Oxford researchers add: “Unless China shifts to a lower level of higher-quality infrastructure investments, the country is headed for infrastructure led financial and economic crisis, which is likely also to be a crisis for the international economy.”3. Large hydropower is not emissions free. It can generate greenhouse gases more than 30 times as potent as carbon dioxide, frequently contributing more to climate change than fossil fuels plants of equivalent generating capacity.Every time you see a report counting “hydroelectricity” as “renewable” or “zero-emissions,” look up the credentials of its author. Hydropower is not always clean.Large dams often flood vast vegetated areas. When they do, that vegetation rots underwater, eventually releasing methane, a greenhouse gas 34 times as potent as carbon dioxide. In some cases, large dams can result in even more lifetime greenhouse gas emissions than would equivalent conventional sources.In a 2016 study, leading reservoir emissions scientist Phillip Fearnside found that emissions from “18 dams that are planned or under construction” in the Brazilian Amazon “would exceed those from electricity generation based on fossil fuels.”Once more, let’s look at the effects of a single dam. Recent analyses performed using the NGO Conservation Strategy Fund’s HydroCalculator tool — open-source software that performs basic cost-benefit analyses of hydroelectric dams with user input data — estimated that Bolivia’s planned Rositas dam reservoir will produce 70 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions. That’s more than the state of South Carolina emits in a year. Note that these numbers do not include the emissions resulting from constructing dams – cement and equipment-heavy projects that usually take several years to build.Unfortunately, some of our leading institutions continue to mistake large dams as “emissions-free,” misleading governments, the public, and the researchers who build the climate change/energy production simulations that guide policy.The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe calls hydropower a “cost-competitive renewable energy source” which “contributes to decarbonising the energy mix.” In its Sustainable Development Goals Tracker, the popular data visualization site Our World in Data counts hydropower capacity in its renewable energy indicator. Even the International Energy Agency is still calling hydropower “renewable.”Meanwhile, a recent Washington State University study finds that methane emissions are currently not included in global greenhouse gas inventories.4. Large dams can destroy the ecological balances of entire river basins, and, with them, the livelihoods of millions of people.One need not look further than Laos, and the Mekong Basin in which it sits, as a case in point.In the summer of 2016, a journalist colleague, Austin Meyer, and I traveled the length of the Lower Mekong River — from nearby the site of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy collapse in Laos to Cambodia, the Vietnam Delta, and the South China Sea. We found and illustrated how large dams on the Mekong mainstream and its tributaries are impacting communities throughout the region — each severely, but in a diverse variety of ways.By obstructing nutrient flows from the upper Mekong River and hastening erosion, allowing saltwater to intrude upstream, dams are destroying rice paddy fields in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. Photo by Gus Greenstein. August 2016.While hydropower will transform the greater part of Southeast Asia, the roots of the problem lie in Laos: a 2010 study suggests that, taken together, the Mekong mainstream dams Laos plans to build, along with two others proposed by Cambodia, could wipe out roughly 40 percent of the wider Mekong Basin’s commercial fish catch, valued at more than $500 million annually.In the villages floating on Cambodia’s Ton Le Sap lake, fishing conditions — once the backbone of sustenance and economic activity — have deteriorated such that young people are now regularly making the dangerous and illegal journey to construction jobs in Thailand.In the “rice bowl” region of Vietnam, once-lime-green paddy fields are turning yellow, evaporating annual incomes, as dams hasten erosion (allowing salty sea water to intrude upstream), and impede the flow of nutrients on which farmers rely.Where it enters the South China Sea, the Mekong River spills nearly 200 tons of nutrient-rich sediment into the ocean every minute, creating some of the most productive fishing grounds in the world. There, fishermen carry on, largely unaware of the difficulties to come. Regional scientists predict that, by blocking this flow of nutrients, dams will ultimately mean the end of the Mekong Plume as it is known today.Given the degree to which “development” institutions continue to promote large hydropower projects, one may find it difficult to believe that there is a huge literature on this topic. For more, read about the Kariba dam’s impoverishment of 57,000 indigenous people, and about how Brazil’s Belo Monte dam has turned an Amazonian village into one of the poorest and most violent cities in Brazil.5. As climate change renders weather patterns more unpredictable, large dams will become increasingly susceptible to catastrophic failure, and less reliable forms of energy production.If this list of impacts is not enough, it is going to get worse. As climate change continues to show itself in fuller color, storms like the ones that helped lead the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam to fail will become much more frequent. In other places, water inputs, without which hydroelectric dams cannot produce energy, will become unreliable at best.This is already happening. In 2015, less than a year’s worth of sub-normal rainfall caused the Hoover Dam’s electricity generation capacity to shrink by half. In 2016, droughts caused Lake Kariba, the largest man-made reservoir in the world, to dry up, leading to blackouts in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. A report by the environmental NGO International Rivers argued that, given its reliance on hydropower in the age of climate change, southern Africa is “moving toward the edge of ecological precipice.”Global electricity demand is rapidly rising at the same time that climate change is rendering storms worse and predictable rainfall a thing of the past. These are toxic investment conditions for infrastructure that relies on constant water inputs – and that can kill when storms hit.International organizations must come to termsDespite these lessons — learned over and over again, only with greater consequences each time — it seems clear: the global hydropower boom will not end as a result of individual national governments recognizing and acting on their hydropower amnesia.The Lao government has temporarily suspended all of its new hydropower projects while it carries out safety inspections of existing dams. Yet there is little to no talk of cancellation, and more than 3,500 hydropower dams are planned or under construction worldwide. As of last year, more than 420 hydroelectric dams were currently under discussion in South America, many of which will go straight on top of tropical rainforests and indigenous communities while blocking major arteries of the Amazon. Hydropower development in Africa is faster now than in any previous decade. The political expediency of erecting such grandiose infrastructure, and the profit it can entail, appears stronger than ever.The destructive hydropower boom will only end when international entities such as the UN, and the financiers that make such projects possible, begin to talk about large hydropower dams as they too often turn out to be: sources of mass eviction and impoverishment, macroeconomic liabilities, climate change enablers, poison for river basins and the communities that depend on them – and vulnerable to the climate future they have already helped lock in.A squid fisherman in the Mekong Plume, off the coast of Vietnam’s Phu Quoc Island. Dams are increasingly diminishing the nutrient-rich sediment inputs responsible for the Plume’s fishing productivity. It is unknown how much longer the Plume will exist. Photo by Austin Meyer. August 2016.CITATIONS• Ansar, A., Flyvbjerg, B., Budzier, A., & Lunn, D. (2014). Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower megaproject development. Energy Policy, 69, 43-56. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2013.10.069• Ansar, A., Flyvbjerg, B., Budzier, A., & Lunn, D. (2016). Does infrastructure investment lead to economic growth or economic fragility? Evidence from China. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 32(3), 360-390. doi:10.1093/oxrep/grw022• Cernea, M. M., & Maldonado, J. K. (Eds.). (2018). Challenging the Prevailing Paradigm of Displacement and Resettlement: Risks, Impoverishment, Legacies, Solutions. Routledge.• Deemer, B. R., Harrison, J. A., Li, S., Beaulieu, J. J., DelSontro, T., Barros, N., … & Vonk, J. A. (2016). Greenhouse gas emissions from reservoir water surfaces: a new global synthesis. BioScience, 66(11), 949-964. doi:10.1093/biosci/biw117• Fearnside, P. M. (2016). Greenhouse gas emissions from Brazil’s Amazonian hydroelectric dams. Environmental Research Letters, 11(1).• Gallagher, K. P., & Yuan, F. (2017). Standardizing Sustainable Development: A Comparison of Development Banks in the Americas. The Journal of Environment & Development, 26(3), 243-271. doi:10.1177/1070496517720711Gus Greenstein is a PhD student in Stanford University’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources. He has been researching and writing about the social, environmental, and economic impacts of large dams since 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @GusGreenstein. Climate Change, Climate Change and Dams, Commentary, Dams, Editorials, Environment, Hydroelectric Power, Hydropower, Mekong Dams, Research, Researcher Perspective Series center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

PBA D-League: Tanduay repulses Victoria Sports for solo 2nd

first_imgPBA IMAGESTanduay claimed solo second spot in the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup with an 86-72 victory over Victoria Sports-MLQU Tuesday at JCSGO Gym in Cubao.Mark Cruz set the pace for the Rhum Masters, firing all of his 22 points in the first half on a 5-of-6 shooting from three, and registered four assists and three rebounds.ADVERTISEMENT Dionisio carried the still-winless Victoria Sports (0-3) with 16 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks, while Edsel Mag-isa had 14 markers and three assists.The Scores:TANDUAY 86 – Cruz 22, Reyes 10, Eguilos 9, Quinto 9, Sanga 9, Santos 9, Sollano 8, Palma 5, Raymundo 3, Cenal 2, Ibay 0, Napoles 0, Varilla 0.VICTORIA SPORTS 72 – Dionisio 16, Mag-isa 14, Nicholls 12, Lao 6, Bitoon 5, Koga 5, Grimaldo 4, Sorela 4, Herndon 3, Ragasa 3, Butron 0.Quarters: 27-17, 53-38, 63-59, 86-72.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Brady gives credit to his mom, White for Super Bowl MVP win Palace: Crisis over ABS-CBN franchise unlikely View comments LATEST STORIES Poe chides LTFRB exec over termination of motorcycle taxi pilot study Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite 15 Taal towns now under total lockdown Read Next Motorcycle taxis ‘illegal’ starting next week — LTFRB board member MOST READ 98% of residents in Taal Volcano’s 14-kilometer danger zone evacuated – DILG Marcos monument beside Aquino’s stirs Tarlac town Motorcycle taxis ‘illegal’ starting next week — LTFRB board member Panelo: Duterte only wants to emulate strong political will of Marcos Tanduay lost hold of an 18-point lead, 39-21, in the second quarter as Aris Dionisio went to work for Victoria Sports and sliced the lead to just four, 63-59, to end the third quarter.But the Rhum Masters woke from a slumber and went on an 11-0 blast to start the fourth and establish a 74-59 lead to run away with the win.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSBreak new groundSPORTSMcGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC returnRaphy Reyes added 10 markers, four assists, and three boards, while Jaymo Eguilos missed out on a double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.“It’s how the game is. Our opponents won’t lie down and play dead,” said coach Lawrence Chongson. “For us, we just wanted to continue our progress and our buildup especially towards our next games.” Municipal councilor nabbed for indiscriminate firing in Leytelast_img read more

Marsh going step by step into 2018

first_imgWith the Commonwealth Games, World Team Championships and the Caribbean Region Championships all approaching next year, 2018 will be a busy year for table tennis. Despite that, three-time national champion Christopher Marsh is taking a step-by-step approach to the months and matches ahead. Speaking just after his win at the first Orville Haslam Challenge Cup on National Heroes Day in Falmouth, Marsh also revealed that an off-table decision helped him to win the day against friendly rival Peter Moo Young. Questioned about his preparation for the likely 2018 schedule, the tall left-hander said: “I’m going to take it one step at a time, you know, get my fitness back up to a level.” Reflecting perhaps on his runner-up finish in the Commonwealth Games team trials in September, he recounted, “I’ve been playing good most times but it’s just the fitness, and take it from there.” The Games, which include table tennis, will be in Australia next April. Marsh, national champion in 2000, 2001 and 2005, was selected last month for Jamaica’s team to the Games alongside current national champion Simon Tomlinson, Kane Watson and young Rajni Brown. He may well be in the reckoning for the World Team Championships, which will be hosted by Sweden starting on April 29 and when Jamaica welcomes its neighbours for the Caribbean Region Championships next September. He also revealed that his win in Falmouth rested on a key equipment decision. When it was noted that his backhand service was a winning weapon over Moo Young, the 41 year-old Marsh explained that unaccustomed hardness from a new racket blade was adding critical centimetres and bounce to his serve. “I was having a little problem because I changed my bat two weeks ago and I changed back to my regular racket last night,” he outlined. The change paid dividends as his backhand serve won points outright and made many openings for his powerful forehand topspin. Among his many accomplishments, Marsh was part of the team that lifted Jamaica out of lowly Division 5 at the 2014 World Team Championships.last_img read more

Cunha Canal Rehabilitation Project

first_imgDear Editor,Delivering the feature address at the launching of the Cunha Canal Rehabilitation Project (CCRP) on February 4, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder stated that the Cunha Canal, located on the East Bank of Demerara, is intended to serve two purposes. Firstly, to drain farmlands located in the villages of Kuru Kururu, Coverden, Pearl, Sarah Johanna and secondly, to relieve flood waters from the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) into the Demerara River.Unfortunately, rehabilitation of the derelict structures listed as the CCRP will be unable to provide drainage simultaneously for the above-listed villages and the EDWC, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall when the villages’ drainage channels and the EDWC are in flood modes.The Cunha Canal was designed to operate at high water level to relieving flood water from the EDWC into the Demerara River. Minister holder was therefore correct when he stated that,” the Cunha Canal is a key element to the operation of the EDWC,” as it is one of many drainage outlets critical for the safe operation of the Conservancy, preventing floodwater overtopping its dam and damaging adjoining homesteads and farmlands.The Cunha Canal’s primary purpose is to assist in keeping water levels in the EDWC at pre-determined elevations to maintain assured water supply to users and prevent overtopping of the Conservancy Dam thus threatening its stability. It is inconceivable; therefore that the Cunha Canal can provide gravity drainage for the EDWC and the villages which it encompasses simultaneously when the Conservancy and village drainage channels are all in flood modes which happen during periods of heavy rainfall. There are reasons to believe also that their bed slopes and levels (canal and channels) have different elevations which will adversely affect gravity water flows in the intended directions.Given the circumstances, it would be reassuring if Minister Holder could state clearly how the CCRP will make Mr Nauth, Chairman of the NDC drainage ‘pipe’ dream becomes a reality for the residents and farmers of his constituency.Yours truly,Charles Sohanlast_img read more

Liverpool and Arsenal target paying no attention to West Ham exit reports

first_img1 West Ham defender Winston Reid says he doesn’t notice the January transfer window despite being at the centre of a saga.The New Zealand international is out of contract in the summer and Hammers boss Sam Allaryce has all but given up trying to keep the centre-back at Upton Park.Allardyce has been quizzed on Reid’s future throughout the season – as have the club’s owners Davids Gold and Sullivan – while clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal have been linked with a move for the star.Reid will be available on a free transfer in the summer when his contract expires and West Ham have so far resisted the temptation to cash in on him this month despite the interest from both clubs.But Reid claims the constant speculation surrouding his future this month has passed him by so far.“People often ask me whether January is a strange month for footballers because of the transfer window and gossip – to be honest as players we don’t really notice it that much,” Reid said.“It’s not like we look out for news about players, and it’s mainly the media surrounding football as to why there’s always a lot of talk about transfers – but players honestly don’t really take notice of it that much.” West Ham defender Winston Reid last_img read more

Firefighters attack destructive Lake Tahoe blaze, homes evacuated

first_imgMEYERS – Residents of Lake Tahoe’s south shore huddled beneath a smoke-filled sky Monday after fleeing a raging forest fire that destroyed more than 200 homes and outbuildings and clouded the lake’s famously clear water with falling ash. About 1,000 people evacuated their homes in this popular resort area along the California-Nevada border while as many as 500 other houses remained threatened as the blaze burned out of control, authorities said. Many hotels offered free rooms as locals clung to one bit of good news: Despite the destruction, there were no reports of injuries. “All the memories are gone,” said Matt Laster, a legal assistant forced to flee his rented home of five years with his wife, two young children and cat. He showed up at a recreation center looking for clothes and a sleeping bag. State officials declared a state of emergency, meaning California would cover all costs associated with fighting the fire, which was under investigation but believed to be caused by human activity. “This is a very difficult day for people in Tahoe and for those of us who know and love that place,” said Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who signed the emergency declaration because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was traveling in Europe. The governor was receiving regular briefings by phone but had no plans to return early, his office said. Dubbed the Angora fire, the blaze had scorched almost 2,500 acres – nearly 4 square miles – and was about 5 percent contained, officials said. “This is far and above the biggest disaster that has happened in this community, I don’t know, probably in forever,” said Lt. Kevin House of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department. Firefighters launched an aggressive attack, hoping to bring the blaze under control ahead of high winds and low humidity forecast for the middle of the week. Dozens took up defensive positions around South Lake Tahoe High School as flames came within a quarter mile of the 1,500-student school. “We have a window right now where we’re really trying to aggressively attack this fire,” said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Sacramento. More than 700 firefighters were on hand, but plans to send up airborne tankers and helicopters to drop water and retardant over the heavily wooded, parched terrain were scrapped because of low visibility from the thick smoke. House said there were no reports of missing persons, but “the truth is we haven’t really been able to get in there and see.” A layer of black, mushy ash lapped along boat docks in the lake, raising fears the fire also could have disastrous long-term economic consequences for a community heavily dependent on the lake’s recreational tourism. The National Weather Service issued a dense smoke advisory warning people from South Lake Tahoe to Carson City, Nev. that heavy ash was making it difficult to see and breathe. The fire began Sunday afternoon on a ridge separating the resort community of South Lake Tahoe from Fallen Leaf Lake, a recreation area where a U.S. Forest Service campground was evacuated. By early afternoon Monday, 173 homes had been lost to flames and many others were damaged, along with dozens of outbuildings, authorities said. All that remained of entire neighborhoods in Meyers were the smoldering silhouettes of stone and concrete chimneys. In other areas, the fire seemed to randomly skip some homes, but downed power lines, trees and debris made clear that life would not return to normal any time soon, even for those whose homes were spared. The burned neighborhoods were a hodgepodge of million-dollar vacation homes, cabins and modest houses strung along the east side of the ridge. At least three members of the local fire department were believed to have lost their homes. Steve Yingling, sports editor for the Tahoe Tribune newspaper, had little hope that his house survived. He was leaving for work Sunday afternoon when he heard the sirens. “I looked back and saw the huge plume of smoke,” he said Monday. “That’s when I really started to get scared because I know the danger alert that we’ve had in this area. Especially this year with the mild winter that we had.” State and federal fire officials had warned of a potentially active wildfire season in the Sierra Nevada following an unusually dry winter. The annual May 1 snow survey found the Tahoe-area snowpack at just 29 percent of normal levels, the lowest since 1988. Fire restrictions have been in effect in the Tahoe National Forest since June 11. The No. 1 cause of blazes in the area is abandoned campfires, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Anxious residents barred from returning to the fire-damaged area jammed the lobby of Lake Tahoe Community College in South Lake Tahoe, hoping to get word from authorities on whether their homes were still standing. Some left in tears; others were thankful to have escaped the worst. Cathy Martin of South Lake Tahoe used a computer in the school’s library to e-mail her son, a Marine serving in Iraq, to tell him about the fire. “We’re very lucky that we are safe,” said Martin, whose home was not damaged. “But I’m telling you this is awful for this community.” Firefighters were aided Monday by winds that had slowed to 12 mph after gusting to about 35 mph the day before. Forecasters warned that if high winds and low humidity returned, the fire could threaten more than 500 homes bordering the lake. “It was a good time to be charging in there and making some progress,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman said. “But that could change if the winds change.” The most destructive wildfires in California history began in late October 2003 and burned for two weeks, killing 22 people, including one firefighter, and scorching more than 750,000 acres in a wide arc from Ventura County east to the San Bernardino Mountains and throughout San Diego County. They destroyed 3,640 homes. The most expensive single fire in state history was the 1991 Oakland Hills blaze, which caused $1.7 billion in damage. That fire killed 25 people and destroyed 3,175 homes and apartments. Also Monday, a fire burned through some 6,000 acres of brush in the hills near the town of Rosamond, about 80 miles north of Los Angeles. At least 30 people voluntarily left their homes in the Oak Creek Canyon area, but there were no reports of damage to houses, Kern County fire engineer Michael Nicholas said. Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze amid single-digit humidity levels and winds of up to 30 miles per hour. The blaze, which began Sunday at around 8:30 a.m., was 10 to 15 percent contained, Nicholas said early Monday. Its cause is under investigation. — Associated Press Writers Brendan Riley and Amanda Fehd contributed to this report.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Wigan 0-3 Charlton: Addicks boost survival hopes with comfortable victory

first_img Charlton players celebrate Igor Vetokele’s (middle right) goal Charlton boosted their Championship survival hopes with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Wigan, whose worrying home woes continued in another woeful DW Stadium display.The Latics have not won on home soil in six months and their bid to escape the clutches of relegation took another serious blow as the Addicks claimed all three points to leave their 23rd-placed hosts deep in the mire.The visitors, who beat Brentford on Valentine’s Day, had not won back-to-back fixtures since August but they ended that long wait in style as goals from Frederic Bulot, Igor Vetokele and substitute Chris Eagles moved them into the top half of a congested division.Malky Mackay’s side had hoped to build on the midweek win over Reading but it was a case of one step forward, two steps back in a damaging defeat which also saw William Kvist and Leon Clarke forced off with injuries, the latter departing in a neck brace.Mackay’s new-look Latics initially started with a swagger missing from too many home performances this term, with Marc-Antoine Fortune twice seeing shots well saved, but against the run of play the visitors claimed a 17th-minute lead on the break.Kvist’s sliding challenge seemed to break down a flowing forward move, but Bulot picked up the pieces and shifted past James Perch before beating Ali Al Habsi at his near post with a left-footed drive.Mackay’s problems continued to mount up with Kvist, hurt during Bulot’s opener, and Clarke both being taken off with injuries inside the opening 34 minutes.Clarke, who appeared to have fallen awkwardly, was taken off on a stretcher following a lengthy delay which resulted in 10 minutes of first-half stoppage time and, just 68 seconds into that period, Charlton doubled their lead.Again the hosts squandered possession in their own half and again Bulot found space down the left, with the Gabon international crossing for Vetokele who nodded into the far corner.In the second period Guy Luzon’s side continued to carry a threat on the break, with Vetokele beating two men before being denied by Al Habs.Wigan’s misery was completed by a former Bolton player as debutant Eagles swept home another counter-attacking move in the 88th minute to a chorus of boos to seal a straight forward three points. 1last_img read more

QPR 1-2 Fulham: Cottagers hold on despite late rally at Loftus Road

first_imgQPR suffered a familiar Friday night feeling as Fulham won the west London derby 2-1 at Loftus Road.An own-goal by defender Jack Robinson, who deflected in a shot from Ryan Fredericks, and a Stefan Johansen strike ended Rangers’ unbeaten home run this season.Conor Washington hit a late consolation for Rangers but the defeat extended a remarkable, unwanted record for the hosts who have now lost the last 11 matches they have played on a Friday.These sides are separated by only three miles and, at kick-off, were just a point apart in the Sky Bet Championship but it was Fulham who catapulted themselves out of mid-table and to within a point of the play-offs.They should have gone ahead when Fredericks charged forward and played a clever reverse pass to Rui Fonte, but the brother of West Ham defender Jose blazed his shot over.Tomas Kalas also headed a good chance wide for Fulham and Johansen hit the sidenetting.Rangers had their chances too, but their finishing was wayward with Luke Freeman, Pawel Wszolek and Alex Baptiste all firing wide.Jake Bidwell did get a shot on target but it was so weak that Fredericks was able to make a vital block.Robinson was lucky to still be on the pitch having clumsily brought down Sheyi Ojo as the Fulham youngster raced through on goal.He escaped punishment that time but was in the wrong place in the 40th minute as former Tottenham youngster Fredericks burst forward again.The full-back drilled in a low shot from the edge of the area which clipped the heel of Robinson, wrongfooting keeper Alex Smithies as it rolled into the net.After the break Freeman was inches from equalising with a free-kick which curled the wrong side of the post.Fulham should have doubled their lead in the 83rd minute after Joel Lynch tripped Neeskens Kebano in the area but Fonte, not enjoying the best of night’s in front of goal, skied the penalty.However, two minutes later Fonte – perhaps wisely – opted to square the ball to Johansen who buried his shot from the edge of the box.Rangers substitute Washington swept home at the start of nine minutes of stoppage time, but despite some frantic late pressure Rangers could not find a leveller. Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic saw his side take all three points 1last_img read more

Valencia pulls off upset

first_imgThe Valencia Vipers Jr. B hockey team pulled off what was perhaps its biggest upset in franchise history Sunday, shocking the Bay City Bombers of Lakewood in a 7-6 overtime thriller at Ice Station Valencia. Defenseman Kevin Lapp (Saugus High) scored the game-winner 46 seconds into the overtime period on a power play. The Vipers (5-16-1) had lost the previous two games of their three-game series against Bay City by a combined 13-3. The Bombers (16-5-2,) who are in third place in the Western States Hockey League’s Western Division, are by far the best team Valencia has defeated. Their previous victories have come against Peoria, Ariz., and Idaho teams that are a combined 1-37. The league’s general managers established the ground rules for the dispersal in a Thursday conference call. Teams will be allowed to draft players in reverse order of their league standings, meaning Peoria (0-22) will get the first selection. Valencia has the league’s fourth worst record. Teams are not permitted to contact players, however information on their status with the Tucson team, including how much they paid in to play for the team, will be made available to all teams. (661) 267-7802160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’The victory was especially improbable considering the Vipers were without Chris Gale (Highland High of Palmdale) and Anthony Kendryna (Saugus/College of the Canyons,) their two leading scorers, who were among six players (three from each team) ejected for fighting late in the final regulation period. Gale led Valencia with two goals. “To come off the mat and score seven goals, especially since we got beat pretty soundly the first two games, that was a pretty good effort,” Vipers coach Larry Bruyere said. “They were obviously pretty excited.” Dispersal draft: The WSHL will have a dispersal draft for players on the recently dissolved Tucson (Ariz.) franchise. The Tilt was taken over by the league on Wednesday. League official said the franchise was financially mismanaged. last_img read more

Football Talk: Rangers’ Solanke focus, Scotland reaction

first_imgJurgen Klopp, however, will reportedly make Gerrard wait for Solanke, as the German is said to be reluctant to loan out the 20-year-old before star forwards Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah return from the World Cup.Meanwhile, Scotland’s summer tour closer against Mexico ended in a 1-0 defeat at the Azteca.In a youthful looking side – all ten outfield players were born in the 90s – fledgling defender Scott McKenna was handed the captain’s armband for the first time. Dominic Solanke’s name was mooted as one of the first to appear on Steven Gerrard’s summer shopping list at Rangers.A horde of players have since been linked with a move to Ibrox as the rumoured wish-list grew arms and legs.Signing Solanke on loan from his former club Liverpool remains Gerrard’s main priority, though, say reports.Rangers’ new boss is hopeful of getting business over the line before the Light Blues kick off their Europa League campaign on July 12.last_img read more