Forest Flambe

As many of you are likely aware by now, California is once again on fire. We had been fairly lucky up until just recently. The mild summer had made for an inactive fire season. The usual massive fires hadn't shown this year. Until last week or so, there wasn't anything of any real significance to deal with. That all changed rapidly as several fires have now broken out here in Southern California, along with many others in Central and Northern California.

The largest fire, named the Station Fire, has so far burned over 105,000 acres and is only 5% contained. It is burning out of control in the Angeles National Forest, which is directly to the northeast of Los Angeles itself, via the San Fernando Valley. This fire sprang to life and grew rapidly, burning through dry brush that hasn't seen a decent fire in 20 years or so. Two firefighters lost their lives when they drove off the side of an access road in heavy smoke. 58 homes have been destroyed so far, with something like 12,000 more directly threatened. The fire is on two major fronts now, one which is burning down the north side of the mountain into Acton, just south of Palmdale. The other flank has burned its way up two sides of Mt. Wislson. Ordinarily this isn't such a big deal, but Mt. Wilson happens to be a major broadcast hub with several TV and radio stations having relay towers up there. Police and fire also have communications equipment on the mountain. The observatory is also threatened as well. Chances are fairly strong that the fire will breach containment efforts up there and overrun the facilities. On the north side, it's looking like it will probably overrun highway 14 before too long.

Elsewhere, the Morris Fire is last listed as having burned 3,000 acres but I'm pretty sure that's way out of date. This fire is close enough that the plumes of smoke are visible from our valley, somewhere in the hills north of Azusa. The smoke is so thick right now that if you look north, you can't see our local mountains at all. We're not in range enough to see flames, and we're hoping the wind stays where it is so that we don't end up under a massive ashfall. The fire is burning through uninhabited forest land and will likely just be allowed to continue doing so as long as no homes are threatened.

A fire burning in the mountains east of Hemet is listed as having charred 400 acres, but there's every chance this is also totally out of date. Given the conditions and the winds in that area I'd guess the fire is a lot larger. Local news has barely even mentioned it. It's unlikely very many homes are threatened since the fire is way up deep in the mountains.

A fresh fire is burning out of control in the mountains outside of Yucaipa, closing in on the small town of Oak Glen. Some 2,000 homes are directly in the path and the entire town has been evacuated.

A fire on the Palos Verdes Peninsula did its thing the other day but that one appears to either be contained or fully out as nobody is talking about it anymore. Several homes were destroyed there.

The one thing all these fires have in common is complete mismanagement of forest land. These types of things likely wouldn't be as big a problem as they are now if the state would stop playing environazi games and let the forest service come in and do what they need to do in thinning out dead trees, clearing brush, and letting residents actually remove brush from around their homes. For whatever odd reason it seems that once the fires start, the firefighters are opting to let them burn rather than fight them because doing so is damn near impossible. I suspect it's also likely because they won't get the opportunity to thin the forest any other way. So they allow it to go up in flames all at once.

One particularly worrisome area that's been lucky the last few years is a massive 400,000 acre stand of trees SE of Big Bear. An infestation of bark beetles tore through the area about 10 years back and has left the forest filled to the brim with dead trees. Like millions of little match sticks waiting to be struck. We came close to the nightmare scenario happening during the big fires that charred the mountain areas directly north and east of Chino. I think back in 2003 if memory serves. The forest service back then was warning what would happen if fire made it into the beetle infested area. If it happens, there won't be any stopping it. All the helicopters in the world won't be able to put that one down. All because the state refuses to let forest service in to cut the dead trees out.

Also, as usual, some dopes decided to defy the mandatory evacuation orders. They stayed put in their homes, and as of about six hours ago they apparently changed their minds and called for help. The sheriff's department was unable to reach them by chopper due to thick smoke. So far as I can find, nobody knows what happened there. Folks, when the fire department says to GTFO, then GTFO. Don't be a dufus. Your life isn't worth it.

According to officials, the Station Fire and others in the Angeles National Forest won't be fully contained until at least September 15. That's a solid two weeks away, and in the meantime those fires will rage on. I wish nothing but the best for the firefighters up on the lines.
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Sep 1, 2009 12:54 am by Samson in: | 10 comment(s) [Closed]
I'd always heard that a good fire is actually healthy for a forest every so often (once in a few or so), though I'd assume that means a controlled fire too.. I do hope that you'll be smart enough to remain safely distant from all those various fires and suffer no property damages too. As for the folks who declined to evacuate, aside from having no idea what they could've been thinking, I'd heard, via AP, that several of them are now badly hurt, two from being bright enough to attempt to ride out the fire by remaining in a backyard hot tub as it swept through... On the other hand, don't all the locals know that refusing to evacuate is a misdemeanor out there?

I've always understood that very same thing about fires and forest health.

I've sort of mentioned this a few times, but your state really, really concerns me. And only partly because of the fires.

As far as I know it was just the one bunch of people, 6 in all, who had refused. One or two families at most. There's always some idiot who thinks they'll be able to ride it out and "won't be forced from their home" by the cops. Those idiots end up burned. There was no information on what had happened to them after they called for help and the sheriff said they couldn't get to them. That's why they were supposed to have evacuated, because help isn't necessarily coming. I'm sorry they got hurt, really, but they brought this on themselves and it's a harsh lesson to learn about why you don't ignore the people who know fires when they tell you to run for it.

Yes, a good fire is absolutely healthy for proper forest management. That's what I'm getting at though. The environazi folks who run this state think that killing a tree is pure evil. Yes, sometimes you need to weed them out before they die, so they don't become 400,000 acre stands of match sticks waiting to be set ablaze.

California should also concern you greatly not just because of the fires, but because other wackjob states emulate us thinking what we do is enlightened somehow.

I think I can sum up my response to all three points in a single word: indeed.

Noticed this today on the weather radar. What looks like it should be a wide ranging light rainshower is in reality a hazy brown covering of smoke over most of the LA area. And we're supposed to have 2 more weeks of this crud to deal with.

Also, it seems once again this one was caused by some retard firebug deciding to light the hills on fire. Due to the deaths of the two firemen earlier in the week, it's now a homicide investigation. When they catch the guy, they should hang him by his balls.

I have to admit that I'm mildly impressed with the fact that the radar picked up the smoke like that. We tend to take it for granted, but the technology involved in even just weather forecating has really come a long way.

Yeah, I've been hearing that this one was arson too. Realistically, I don't think they do the death penalty, even in California, for manslaughter or arson, and that's the most probable charges they could pin on whoever started this one since the person's lawyer is certainly going to point out the obvious that even if (s)he's guilty (s)he couldn't have known that anyone would get killed by it and therefore it doesn't qualify as premeditated or even necessarily an intended/desired outcome. In fact, it may well end up being a case of someone claiming they thought they were helping the forestry department out since a fire in that area was overdue and needed for the health of the forest. I know I'd try something like that as a defense if it were me. Not much they can do to get out of the fact that the two firefighters died unless they can prove negligence by the firefighters, but also not very likely to get a death penalty from it either, let alone by hanging from their balls... assuming they're male and have 'em to hang from. ;)

Yes, weather technology is quite impressive. Someone who didn't know better might assume that was a shot of thunderstorms over the area, and while we do have humidity, we have no storm activity. Kind of surprising, usually a large forest fire like this will suck up the moisture and generate pyrocumulus clouds that lead to thunderstorms.

Unfortunately for the bonehead who lit the fire, the felony murder rule will apply. Arson is a felony, and two people died as a direct result of criminal action. Even in liberal California, that's a death penalty case. The defense lawyer had better be a genius if they think the guy is getting away with this once caught.

If the only information I had at my disposal was that image, I agree, it does look like precipitation, too bad it isn't, that would probably help with fighting it.

Hmm, yes, arson is a felony, and I forgot about the felony murder rule. Still, bet the lawyer does at least try the defense of the firefighters screwed up and it's their own fault they died argument. After all, it doesn't look like there's a whole lot else for them to try. ...unless who ever pleads guilty to everything to begin with... course, that all assumes the state catches someone and they actually have proof to support the arrest.

Over the years, I've lost a great deal of my faith in both the legal and medical fields. Judges convict based on which lawyer presented to them better rather than upon pesky details like evidence or what was presented, even if the suppositions involved are all clearly ludicrous to any reasonable person. Doctors use guesswork as their primary tool as much as any unlicensed lay-women ever did, maybe more so, and when they do get it wrong, they just charge you more to refer you to someone who might be able to fix it and assume their malpractice insure will deal with it if you can manage to get proof they screwed up which generally requires another doctor to testify and they'll usually stand up for each other.

Remember this fire? It's still out there to this day - 94% contained, but we're now expecting Santa Ana winds to come in tonight and the fire crews are saying that's going to bring the fire roaring back to life again.

Re: Judges, etc - Surely you mean juries convict based on which lawyer was more convincing? I think it's pretty rare to have judges handling the process of rendering the actual verdict. It can happen, but they tend not to like it. ER doctors and general practitioners may be guilty of using more guesswork than science, but the specialists know their stuff. That's part of what it means to be a specialist. You should think of the GPs as more of a screening service than someone to actually fix the problem unless it's really simple. First level tech support, etc.

Wow, this fire's taking forever to get resolved, and now they're expecting to have a major set-back.. be safe, man.

I suppose in the majority of cases it is a jury rather than the judge, though even in those cases the judge could overturn the jury's decision, but I meant judges because in my experience it's always only been judges that I'd dealt with. Somehow I've always managed to avoid any involvement in a jury trial to date, despite my work as a Private Investigator and as an Armed Security Patrol Supervisor and of course all my civil cases have always been understandably only before judges.
I'm not convinced that the specialist are any better than the GPs, but I'll agree that in the context of what I was saying was I'd implied that I was referring primarily to GPs given that I did say "...and when they do get it wrong, they just charge you more to refer you to someone who might be able to fix it...".

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