Issue: September 02, 2021

A note from Jason

For those of us living in Northern California, there is perhaps no more fear-inducing sentence during wildfire season than, “The winds are picking up.” On Nov. 8, 2018, it was the notorious Jarbo Gap winds pushing 50 mph. One year ago this week, on Sept. 8, it was a cold front that arrived to blow gusts of 45 mph down the Feather River Canyon. Those two events fanned the flames of the Camp and North Complex fires, respectively, and made evacuating nearly impossible. All told, 101 people died as a result, with most being overtaken before they could escape.

On this one-year anniversary of the North Complex Fire and the destruction of the towns of Berry Creek and Feather Falls, the CN&R takes a look at the alert and evacuation plans that were in place for the fire that killed 16 in two Butte County foothill communities. We ask what’s been learned from the failures during past fires and how officials plan to better respond in order to save as many lives as possible when the next blaze hits our wildfire-prone county.

Also in this special wildfire issue (on stands now!), we check in with the Sierra Club’s Utility Wildfire Prevention Taskforce, a watchdog group that tracks fires sparked by electric utilities. It’s likely that failure of Pacific Gas & Electric equipment near the Butte County border is responsible for igniting the current Dixie Fire, and environmentalists say that it’s the latest example of unrealized upgrades by the power giant leading to catastrophic wildfires.

Last, a note on the state of the CN&R: This print issue is the last one that will ever come out of the West Second Street location. The building the CN&R has occupied for 36 of its 44 years is in the process of being sold, and we are greatly downsizing physical operations. Just as we have during COVID, we’ll continue to do most of our work remotely. We will have a new home base though—a couple of small offices inside the Idea Fabrication Labs building where we can print pages for editing, conduct interviews, gather for meetings and just hang out when the elements keep us from the backyard. We’ve also rented a separate warehouse in the IFL compound for storage and to receive pallets of newspapers. Hopefully, once the coronavirus dissipates and businesses/advertisers fully recover, the number of those pallets will increase because we’ll be printing more often (bi-weekly at first?). If you want to get in touch, send an email, or drop a line to P.O. Box 56, Chico, CA, 95927.

Almost forgot, the deadline to vote for Best of Chico is Sept. 5. Don’t delay!

Take care,

Jason Cassidy
CN&R interim editor