California wildfires endanger supply chain workers, displace businesses
- Three active wildfires in California are endangering truck drivers and displacing thousands of businesses and residents.
- Though the fires are causing catastrophic damage to communities in terms of record fatalities and lost property, the smoke that results may have a greater impact on supply chains as it can create health hazards for workers and visibility issues for vehicles.
- An Amazon warehouse with at least 2,000 employees in Sacramento — located more than 80 miles from Paradise, California, where the largest fire began — closed Saturday because of the health hazard caused by the smoke, and as of Monday there were no firm plans to repoen, reported the Sacramento Bee. Flights have been delayed out of San Francisco International Airport.
Each wildfire in California is unique, but it's hard not to the see the seemingly state's ever-present fires in 2018 as part of the same story. Some experts are going as far as to say that fires are just a "new normal" for California as average temperatures creep up and preserve peak fire conditions for longer.
What certainly does change with each fire is the supply chain implications based on road closures and the wind that moves the fire and the smoke it produces. The smoke from these fires can be seen, with the eye and in the air quality index, from hundreds of mile away.
The Camp Fire, the largest of California's three active fires covering more than 100,000 acres, is today still burning in Northern California, in an area of the state where warehouses are growing both to fulfill e-commerce orders and service the largest real estate holders in the area: Apple and Tesla.
The Hill and Woolsey fires in Southern California closed a section of the Pacific Coast Highway for four days — it reopened today.
In addition to disruptions to the retailer operations in the affected areas, deliveries across carriers are likely to be thrown-off as well. USPS has closed eight post offices in the Sacramento and Los Angeles districts.
Apart from road closures, smoke and wind can make it dangerous to drive heavy vehicles and therefore delay deliveries. Even before the fire started, the National Oceanic and Athmospheric Adminsitration (NOAA) issued "red flag warnings" regarding high winds for some parts of California that are affected by the fires. These warnings mean that the winds could possibly overturn a truck and that drivers should beware. NOAA issued new red flag warnings for parts of the state early this morning that expire Wednesday afternoon.
The American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) is working to coordinate movement of supplies near affected areas where thousands of evacuees are sheltering, ALAN executive director Kathy Fulton told Supply Chain Dive.
"We expect to receive a list of current needs that our industry can help with today and anticipate that this list will morph and expand in the days and weeks ahead. We’ll be posting these needs on our disaster micro-site," said Fulton, who added that the organization is also still receiving hurricane-related requests.
"From a logistical perspective, the needs for fire disaster support tend to be very different from events like hurricanes, because most requests for transportation, warehousing and equipment usually come afterward rather than before or during the event," she said.
Fulton told Supply Chain Dive that the state of California has a robust infrastructure for supporting disasters like this "because they’ve unfortunately experienced many fires over the past."
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