US flower farms threatened by fires

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The US flower sector is being threatened by the Thomas Fire in Southern California, a fire that has already consumed 96,000 acres and is rapidly expanding due to winds and dry conditions.

More than 30,000 people are under mandatory evacuation orders in Santa Barbara in southern California after wildfires burned more than 270 square miles of the state.

Authorities warned the raging fire was only 15% contained and that rate may fall because of the fire’s expected growth.

A powerful flare-up on the western edge of the region’s largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing on Sunday, as wind-fanned flames churned through old-growth brush in canyons and along hillsides toward coastal towns.

The fire is burning close to nearly two dozen flower farms in the Carpinteria Valley, known as “the flower basket of the United States.” Smaller fires have also been reported near flower farms in San Diego and Lompoc.

To help track the fires and their potential impact on flower farms, the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) has created an interactive online map that shows which of the state’s flower farms are near fire locations. View the map, which is being regularly updated, at ccfc.org/fires.

To add to the conversation and provide additional updates, several Southern California flower farmers will be using Facebook Live to provide updates and video of the fires.

“The map shows the fires statewide and will help answer the questions we’re currently hearing a lot, like ‘How are these farms that I’ve bought my flowers for decades from doing?’” said Kasey Cronquist, CCFC CEO and ambassador.

The raging Thomas Fire, which is now edging closer to Ojai and Carpinteria on two fronts and forced the closure of Highway 101 and Highway 150 for hours Thursday as flames burned on both sides of the freeway, started Monday night in Santa Paula and quickly tore through Ventura toward the Pacific Ocean.

The wildfire has 5 percent containment and is burning its way into the Los Padres National Forest.

Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said if the wind continues, and rain doesn’t touch the region, the Thomas fire could continue for a few more weeks.

Visit CCFC.org/fires and follow the California Cut Flower Commission on social media for ongoing updates.

 

Image: Southern California US Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Dennis W. Goff

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