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California Fires

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
Anyone exposed to even the smallest amount of news information knows just how devastating the fires have been in Southern California. Last count: 15 dead and upwards of perhaps $100 billion in damages. My question is has anyone heard from The Irish One, our man on the street out there in San Diego?

Hope he and everyone else stays safe.
 

The Irish One

Member
Messages
2,267
Points
25
Flames from hell -it's raining ash

hello, well the ash has calmed down. it's hell here, the air is thick and unbreathable. My friend just about lost her house -had to water the roof. I'm about three miles from the fire that already burned itself out. My workplace is in the path of the fire stil raging in a town called Valley Center.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
Stay safe TIO! I was surprised to find so many people had been killed - usually brushfires just do property damage.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
So far it's the burbs around San Diego and L.A., so hopefully The Irish One is okay. I've been watching the Simi fires closely, as they are heading into areas that I have friends and family. I see that it is now jumping the ridge of the Santa Susana mtns, which means it will be heading down the West Hills into Chatsworth.

The L.A. Times has an excellent map (pdf) of So. Cal that I've been checking daily for new developments.

Edit: Heh... we must have been posting at the same time. Good to see you safe Irish One!
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
One more day of record heat here in the Bay Area. If, say, a fire started in Marin County, the State is already stretched incredibly thin.

My sister lives at the top of a 15 foot wide, steep narrow driveway next to hundreds and hundreds of acres of open space. About two miles from the edge of the 1989 fire. The Oakland Hills are apparantly much more conscious of brush clearance than the southland (don't know if that's true) and there are a lot of dead trees from drought, air pollution, and beetles. Pretty horrible situation.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Yeah, So. Cal. (at least in Ventura and L.A. counties) aren't as rigid about the brush clearance as in Northern California. My parents built a cabin up in Mariposa County, and the building placement and brush clearance regulations were very strict. Luckily, my parents' house in L.A. is in an area that isn't affected this time (other than the smoke/ash). But they live in the Santa Monica mountains where brush fires are common each summer.
 

Jen

Cyburbian
Messages
1,704
Points
25
Well at least the fires killed all the damn beetles that killed all the damn trees

All I can think of is a sci-fi short story set in the future that was about wildfires consuming valleys and instantaneous combustion of 'new towns' into oblivion. The story was in either Stephen Kings nightshift or a futuristic collection of stories ed by Terry Carr. I don't have either books anymore - but I've never forgotten the horror.

This is bad stuff, glad you escaped TIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What now? this is terrible!
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
The NASA satellite photo that was on TV last night was chilling.

I have family in the area that I havent heard from yet. Isnt it sad how something totally out of your control can change your life forever? Sorry, getting deep... :(
 

The Irish One

Member
Messages
2,267
Points
25
Thanks everybody

Jenna, all the vivid girls, run like hell!!!!!!!!! San Fernando Valley is about to burn down!!!

Edit: SFV is the porn mecca of the world.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Here is a good satellite photo... it even shows a few 'small' fires down in Baja. Truly amazing...

 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
Messages
2,713
Points
24
For those of you who like to read sci-fi accounts of humanity causing thier own problems with the earth, get a hold on the book:

Natures End

By Whitley Striber and James Kenutka

The book details issues like what would happen to the brazilian rainforest if the forest were to dry out enough to allow crown fires to get started.

Another nice disaster envisioned was a holding pattern that hung over Denver long enough to cause ozone and other gasses the time to effect even the ability of healthy adults to die from smog events.

Thier are others detailed in the book too, but those were the worst. Worth reading from a What-If scenario.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Re: Thanks everybody

The Irish One said:
Jenna, all the vivid girls, run like hell!!!!!!!!! San Fernando Valley is about to burn down!!!

Yeah, Mike D.... it's your chance to be Jenna's personal firefighter. Don't forget your hose!
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
Re: Thanks everybody

The Irish One said:
Jenna, all the vivid girls, run like hell!!!!!!!!! San Fernando Valley is about to burn down!!!


NOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!!!!!

Backup the master reels now!!!
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
Points
26
Yikes! That's one hell of a fire! Just imagine what would happen if Tijuana got in the path of the fire.. All those drugs would burn and people would be flyin' all around for days! :p
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Chet said:
I have family in the area that I havent heard from yet. Isnt it sad how something totally out of your control can change your life forever? Sorry, getting deep... :(
Chet -

Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Re: Re: Thanks everybody

Mike D. said:
NOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!!!!!

Backup the master reels now!!!
Mike - Its all digital these days. I'm sure its dafe in some off siter cold storage hard drive ;)
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
SkeLeton said:
Yikes! That's one hell of a fire! Just imagine what would happen if Tijuana got in the path of the fire.. All those drugs would burn and people would be flyin' all around for days! :p
Yeah, now if Humboldt County burned, 100,000 people would get the munchies.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
The Irish One said:
amazing photo.

I need to move to a cold weather climate.
You could have spent the summer in Kamloops BC.

We got lucky this year, no major fires.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
[Not asked to upset anyone] As an outsider it seems like this caynoyn fire season thing happens every year to one degree or another. Why is it so bad this year? Why do you folks in California build in areas that burn REGULARLY? Why don't you have this under contol? It happens twice a year every year. Can someone shead some light because all the news I'm getting is from the TV morons. [/Not asked to upset anyone]
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
Messages
2,713
Points
24
el Guapo said:
[Not asked to upset anyone] ....Why do you folks in California build in areas that burn REGULARLY? Why don't you have this under contol? .....[/Not asked to upset anyone]
Now that you asked the question EG, I would like to know also. Everytime there is a huge flood in the mississippi river valley we hear about building in the flood plains and how horrible it is.

How can building in a dry box canyon be any more acceptable than building on a beach or in the floodplain? Just curious, glad I am not in the path of the fire though.

Luck to everyone in the area out there. I think I heard them forecast humid air by late afternoon so maybe things will get better.
 

The Irish One

Member
Messages
2,267
Points
25
El Guapo, great questions!
"As an outsider it seems like this caynoyn fire season thing happens every year to one degree or another. Why is it so bad this year?"


It turns out that coastal sage scrub/ chapparal have a cycle and they like to burn!
The constuction industry is massive in So Cal and all of the development is only going eastward through thick dry brush. We so cal people only like ranch style development. No, we wont build up. That's my rant. It is so bad this year imho because the fires are burning in all of the areas that are close to developments that are large scale track housing -that's all our development is around here -mixed use is for poor commies. I have never seen fire this bad and the air here is hazardous to your health. Schools are closed, freeways are at 50% at the most.

Why do you folks in California build in areas that burn REGULARLY? Why don't you have this under contol?

Local editorial on the thought process as far as development of San Diego's rural property. I like to call this bullshit. The idea is that people should be able to build as much as they want wherever they want. Insanity!
]
http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2003/10/26/opinion/editorials/10_25_0317_31_42.txt


This doesn't really answer your questions but I would say that the Building industry needs to be under stricter controls..
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
So much for the concept of sustainability. :)~

TIO and EG - right thinking, but HOW do you stop it or if not stop it, fix it.

The ACOE can levee rivers, but what do you do about coastal sage canyons? Perhaps a Federal Brush and Grub Adminstration? At what point does human stupidity cross over into bureaucratic necesssity?
 

Mud Princess

Cyburbian
Messages
4,898
Points
27
I have a cousin in the area of the "Cedar" fire. I hope she and her family are OK. I'm very worried, as I heard someone on NPR this morning mention the community in which I think she lives...
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,689
Points
53
Chet said:
At what point does human stupidity cross over into bureaucratic necesssity?
We shouldn't create too much policy to prevent poor decisions. The restrictions from TIO's link are good, but one could still build there. The impact of the fires would only be lessened.

Let the weight of the historical/statistical record work its way into the insurance indsutry, and make the building or re-building of houses/buildings in these areas very, very, very expensive to insure, and also FEMA cannot pay for the rebuilding.

BTW: (not being a homeowner myself) Is home insurance an institutional requirement like auto insurance is?
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Chet said:

The ACOE can levee rivers, but what do you do about coastal sage canyons? Perhaps a Federal Brush and Grub Adminstration?
That's called the fire department hon. Fire departments patrol the areas in the summer and hand out tickets to people that don't clear their brush. They also review house plans for placement adjacent to slopes.

In a lot of the L.A. area hills, it's not too bad... grasslands around the L.A. area proper don't burn as hot as the chapparel in the coastal canyons. That may be one of the saving factors as it enters the San Fernando Valley, if I remember correctly the West Hills (Santa Susanas) on the valley side are mostly grass and not brush. But I guess once the fire is as hot as it is right now, the point is probably moot anyway.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
mendelman said:
Let the weight of the historical/statistical record work its way into the insurance indsutry, and make the building or re-building of houses/buildings in these areas very, very, very expensive to insure, and also FEMA cannot pay for the rebuilding.
Trust me, everyone probably has fire insurance... and everyone is paying through the nose for it. I always tell my mom and dad "well, you don't *have* to live there"... but that gets shot down right away.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
As a flatlander, I always ask the same question as El Guapo. Is it really a good idea to build in such consistently and repeatedly hazardous areas? Some of the roads, while charming, just shout "fire trap." Its beautiful up there, but I prefer my employer's policy which says that we will generally not develop above 200 feet in elevation (although an older elite subdivision built in the county is quite the fire trap. At least Green Valley Highland has wide roads not so subject to closure by fires)

Especially since many of the homeowners up there have the typical sense of entitlement so prevalent among today's upper middle class: "I really don't think WE should have to pay a surcharge for extra fire protection in a high risk zone. We are special" I am not exagerating very much the level of debate among some of my sister's neighbors. (Of course, by that standard, people living in high crime areas should be paying more for police services, so...)

On the other hand, what about seismic risk, Midwestern tornados, the whole hurricane thing, and blizzards? One could argue that the entire Ring of Fire (which includes New Zealand, Australia, Seattle, and Japan-as well as California) is hazardous. And, more people died because of midwestern humidity in Chicago than because of the Oakland fires. So, I guess the bottom line is "Mother Nature" is a pretty nasty b&^&, not a warm and cuddly goddess.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Read "Los Angeles Against the Mountains" by John McPhee. It is found in his book The Control of Nature and is an excellent account of how climate, geology, vegetation, and humyns have combined to create the conditions California is facing right now (and every year).

Wait for the mudflows in Spring.
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
Points
26
BKM said:
One could argue that the entire Ring of Fire (which includes New Zealand, Australia, Seattle, and Japan-as well as California) is hazardous.
...And Chile ;)
Hey Valdivia has been destroyed like 4 times by the direct cause of major earthquakes (above 7 in the Richter scale), and the 4 times it has been re-built... why? at least for the spanish it was a strategic location, and had (few) gold reserves in those years...
 

JNL

Cyburbian
Messages
2,449
Points
25
SkeLeton said:

Hey Valdivia has been destroyed like 4 times by the direct cause of major earthquakes (above 7 in the Richter scale), and the 4 times it has been re-built... why?
I was reading up on post-disaster recovery recently and apparently it's a known phenomenon that people will rebuild in the same location even if that isn't the most logical/safe option - it's a psychological thing - 'if we can just get things looking normal we can start to rebuild our lives'. It's about clinging to what's familiar when everything is in disarray.
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
My cousin in San Diego has her cars all packed and ready to go if the direction of the fires change. They just built this beautiful new house and have a 2 month old new baby. I can't even imagine having to evacuate and not knowing if it will be there when you go back.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Downtown - at least she is one of the "lucky" ones that had a chance to prepare. I feel sorry for those that were hit too quickly to gather prized things and then leave.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
Downtown said:
My cousin in San Diego has her cars all packed and ready to go if the direction of the fires change. They just built this beautiful new house and have a 2 month old new baby. I can't even imagine having to evacuate and not knowing if it will be there when you go back.
We go through this every time a major hurricane heads this way. I have the grab-the-photos/documents, get the pet stuff together down pat.

Not to minimize, however, what your cousin is going through. The difference is that we usually have much more time to anticipate and prepare.

I would imagine that many folks in CA were caught off guard (e.g., at work for the day when the winds shifted the fires) and had no chance to salvage anything from their homes.
 

Miles Ignatius

Cyburbian
Messages
368
Points
12
Cardinal said:
Read "Los Angeles Against the Mountains" by John McPhee. It is found in his book The Control of Nature and is an excellent account of how climate, geology, vegetation, and humyns have combined to create the conditions California is facing right now (and every year).

Wait for the mudflows in Spring.
Ditto. McPhee does a great job in depicting the endless efforts of Southern Californians to master their environment but it's clear who's the real master. I'd also recommend Cary McWilliams' An Island Upon The Land which chronicles some of the same....
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
I have many friends in the area. Their stories are pretty fearful. Thankfully, all are okay as far as I know. One good friend's boyfriend is a fireman. It's possible that his house was burned while he was out protecting others. We are waiting to hear.

However, political commentary. San Diego is one area of the state where the anti-tax movement is the strongest. Cut taxes and there will be a magical decrease in "government." Government includes police and fire. And it also includes planners who could include fire safety as a planning tool. Somehow, we have come to a disconnect about what government actually is and how it is funded.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
So if I build my house on a tinderbox, or I build my house in the flood plains, the government will pay for my loss, er FEMA (AKA U.S. taxpayers). Bahloney. They should't be building in those areas to begin with. Whats next, people running out of water in Phoenix & Las Vegas in the near future, declaring a national emergancy for FEMA to step in and help use my money to pump water into the middle of the desert to support an unsustainable area? Wow what B.S. (On the soap box)
But thats just related to unrestricted growth, all yous guys in CA, good luck, I've got a good friend there.:)
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
Rumpy Tuna said:
So if I build my house on a tinderbox, or I build my house in the flood plains, the government will pay for my loss, er FEMA (AKA U.S. taxpayers).
The government already pays for a large part of your house by subsidizing your payments (tax refunds), not taxing profits from transfers, and supporting below-market interest rates. Why not pay for your house when destroyed in a predictable natural disaster. House owners are pretty highly subsidized.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
However, political commentary. San Diego is one area of the state where the anti-tax movement is the strongest. Cut taxes and there will be a magical decrease in "government." Government includes police and fire. And it also includes planners who could include fire safety as a planning tool. Somehow, we have come to a disconnect about what government actually is and how it is funded.
See the article from Mike Davis today. When I forwarded this to an office conservative, he whined that I like to get off on the misfortunes of the wealthy. I told him no, I just appreciate irony.
 

moose

Member
Messages
109
Points
6
Downtown said:
My cousin in San Diego has her cars all packed and ready to go if the direction of the fires change. They just built this beautiful new house and have a 2 month old new baby.
My in-laws live in Chula Vista (San Diego area) and at one point, the fire was 10 miles from their house -- they haven't been able to open the house windows for days. My brother & sister-in-law and their 8 month old baby live in El Cajon, and had to evacuate for one night. My friend and I just returned from DC (me to Portland, she to San Diego), and she called me from LAX last night, where her flight had been diverted to.

I wish I could just send the rain we're getting here in OR to them in CA.....
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
It really makes me even more concerned about my sister. They live about a mile south of the main path of the 1989 fire-that means all of the old vegetation is still there. ALTHOUGH, the City of Oakland has been actively clearing some of the fuel trees (eucalyptus primarily), and my sister's property and cul de sac is pretty well cleared of underbrush down slope. Still, open space abuts their house to the east-and it is heavily overgrown with vegetation. I fear a blaze coming over the hill from the open space district property to the east.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
BKM said:
It really makes me even more concerned about my sister. They live about a mile south of the main path of the 1989 fire-that means all of the old vegetation is still there. ALTHOUGH, the City of Oakland has been actively clearing some of the fuel trees (eucalyptus primarily), and my sister's property and cul de sac is pretty well cleared of underbrush down slope.
Are eucalyptus that bad? (honest question, not just be being a smartass). It seems like some of the areas around San Diego got hit bad, but the eucalyptus didn't catch fire. Here's an image that shows what I'm talking about. Maybe these were the smooth bark variety of eucalyptus, so the fire didn't go straight up the trunks and into the canopy.


 

B'lieve

Cyburbian
Messages
219
Points
9
[QUOTE by nerudite]Are eucalyptus that bad? [/QUOTE]

YES! Eucalyptus trees are filled with all kinds of resins and oils, even more so than resinous pines down south. That's why koalas smell like cough medecine and Australia's brush fires get so horrendous. Rem is from gum-tree country and can surely confirm this.

TIO, nerudite, Wulf9, Rumpy, and the rest: hope you and/or yours all either are spared or make it out!
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
B'lieve said:
TIO, nerudite, Wulf9, Rumpy, and the rest: hope you and/or yours all either are spared or make it out! [/B]
Thanks for explanation... I guess I never really thought about eucalyptus, since they weren't very prevalent in the hills where I grew up (pepper trees were more of a problem during Santa Anas, broken branches falling on houses/cars and stuff).

Unfortunately, a friend is now homeless from his house near Scripps ranch... he wasn't the owner, but he lost almost all of his belongings. But most of the others I know seem to be spared thanks to the fire personnel holding the line on the Simi fire near Chatsworth.
 

moose

Member
Messages
109
Points
6
nerudite said:
I guess I never really thought about eucalyptus,
Yes, not only to eucalyptus trees contain all kinds of gunk that make them burn better, but the burning wood can also explode. The reason that the trees in that image are fine is probably of the irrigation systems for the homes. The lawns are also intact, and the eucs are well-watered, keeping them (or any other tree species) resistant to fire just a little longer. The houses, on the other hand, may not have had fire-resistant roofs, etc. Or at least, that's my theory.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
moose said:
Yes, not only to eucalyptus trees contain all kinds of gunk that make them burn better, but the burning wood can also explode. The reason that the trees in that image are fine is probably of the irrigation systems for the homes. The lawns are also intact, and the eucs are well-watered, keeping them (or any other tree species) resistant to fire just a little longer. The houses, on the other hand, may not have had fire-resistant roofs, etc. Or at least, that's my theory.
I have a theory too, but it involves the Wrath of God. ;)
 

The Irish One

Member
Messages
2,267
Points
25
Could it be, a future of controlled growth, don't even think about it!

A local article discusses possible policy changes in the aftermath of the fire. There is no mention of urban infill, nope not gonna happen.

http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2003/11/02/news/breaking/11_1_0320_26_31.txt

QUOTE]New development, he said, should be next to existing urban areas, and it should replace fire-prone native shrubs with streets, lawns and trees.[/QUOTE]

That is a suggestion that adds to the problem. We are so spread out here that the only place to go is into the countryside. I'm not suggesting we have high rises everywhere but there has to be some kind of building in the upward direction. Infill, it just has to happen.
 
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