Here We Go Again… California Wildfires
Purpleair real time air quality map shows poor-to-severe air quality heavily concentrated in the US west, particularly in the California/Nevada region where many fires are raging.
The east has two rain sources. Jet stream, typical east to west fronts and rain patterns, then the gulf influence. Two weeks ago it was getting dry around here, Isaiah, the hurricane, brought rain over two weeks and now my cattle are up to their bellies in delicious crabgrass.
Hey Adam I know of a guy in Western Mass. with a pretty big spread, maybe he would let you build a little chateau on a corner. lol
I have lots of friends and family there and they can’t go out of the house.
I think it is time to read Strategic Relocation by Joel Skousen. I posted the link a while back and a video of Joel with Alex Jones
My advice to anyone in California who still has a job and pays taxes is get out now. You are going to get slammed with taxes like you never dreamed. The Golden Age is over.
Karen, you make a great point about rainfall. It is the one thing that concerns me the most about my location here in the high desert. When it’s not fire season, it is absolutely beautiful here. We have low population density, four distinct seasons and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities. I have a deep well (with a generator) and I garden in raised beds with a drip system so I thought I was okay, but long term in a true drought? Sketchy, at best
The ever increasing population here worries me too. Californians have come in by the droves over the past few years. It’s starting to strain the infrastructure of my small town. There’s only so many wells we can dig here. Worse is the frustrating fact that so many of them are leaving Kalifornia to ostensibly escape the ridiculous taxes, regulations and social policies there, but then move here and call for and vote for those same policies!
Tucson is a few months ahead of Calif. This time lapse shows the first few weeks of the Bighorn fire in the 9000′ high Catalina Mountains on the north side of Tucson. It eventually burned 120,000 acres of the Ponderosa forest up there. A while back it was predicted that those forests will eventually be transformed into grasslands due to the ever intensifying drought. It looks like it’s ahead of schedule. I have watched that forest slowly get more and more brown over the last 25 years. Fires would be a natural process if the forests were in equilibrium. They are far away from that state and getting further every year.
The lack of aerosols produced by the airlines is giving us a look at our real future. The temps went up right after 911. They are going up even further now. This year is so far the hottest on record. In this week alone there have been 6 consecutive record highs here in Tucson. A temp drop down to 10F above normal is described as a cool down on the local news. It has also been an extremely dry summer, which is usually a rainy season. The rainfall is 1/3 of the last record low 100 years ago.
I hope the climate change deniers are enjoying all of the sunshine.
Great points and scary stuff there, skipr. It boggles my mind that climate change deniers even exist, these days. Personally, I’m much more commonly “right” than “left” especially now that the center has shifted so dramatically, but I’m not blind or obtuse. I think far too often, people pick a side and then are determined to stick with that, even when that means blatantly ignoring relevant information.
Just happened to see this thread just now. I helped a friend of mine move he and his family from So Cal up to Hamilton, MT back at the beginning of July. The whole Bitterroot valley with that river running through it was very beautiful. Extremely blue skies and with an occasion big puffy (real) cloud. Oh my goodness now this fire. I sent him a text just before logging in here. No reply yet. They are an hour before me so if safe, hopefully sleeping in their beds safe and sound. Thanks.
When I was in college, I fought forest fires for 3 years with a Forest Service hotshot crew based in Kamas, Utah. When our forest was free of fires, we would be sent to fires across the western US. Our crew was a 20 person crew that basically made the fire lines around the advancing fires using chainsaws and hand tools. It was strenuous, dangerous, hot work!
The first year, I felt that we were working to keep the environment safe from fires. I considered fire to be the enemy. By the second year, I saw that fire was a natural occurring event that was a necessary feature to keep forests healthy. We still needed to keep it in check, though. It keeps underbrush from accumulating over time. With periodic fires, underbrush is naturally kept in check so the fire can sweep past mature trees with little damage resulting. When underbrush becomes overgrown, fires become hotter and can move up into the crown to kill vast swaths of mature trees.
During my second year, our crew was called to a fire outside of Ely, Nevada. The fire was started by a lightning strike. When we got there, the fire was still in the broad bench near the mouth of a steep drainage – mostly sagebrush with pinion pines and juniper. The fire boss was an intrepid fellow who wanted all the information he could get before making a decision. We would get periodic fire weather reports during the morning with the latest one of the day at 2 PM. We got there at around sunrise and waited on standby while the fire boss waited for the next fire weather report before sending us out. Then, when the last report of the day came out, he finally made a decision and sent us out. By then, it was the heat of the day (> 100°F) with strong gusty winds and relative humidity in the single digits.
Had we been sent out when we got there (cool temperatures, low wind, high humidity,) I’m sure we could have kept the fire from advancing up the drainage. We worked hard to flank the northern side of the fire until we got to the eastern edge. Another hotshot crew worked the southern flank. With the predominantly west winds, easterly is generally where the fire advances fastest. When we got to the eastern most edge of the fire, we could hook around and fight the advancement. By then, it was about 6 PM and the gusty winds were much stronger, sending embers beyond the fire’s edge and starting spot fires. Members of the crew were able to run to the tiny spot fires and keep them controlled.
We saw a large Juniper tree with fire crawling up the trunk. One of our sawyers went in to cut the tree down. Before he could get the tree down, it “candled out” sending flames hundreds of feet into the sky and sending burning embers (due to the gusty winds) into the drainage. Spot fires erupted hundreds of feet away in the steep drainage and the fire raced up the dense brush in the drainage. We had lost the chance to contain it.
We were finally replaced by another hotshot crew at 9 PM. By then, the fire was spilling over the upper drainage ridge, but temperatures were dropping, the wind went to sleep, and relative humidity was rising. The replacement hotshot crew was able to keep the fire from spilling over the ridge too far that night. We hiked back to the nearest road (several miles) and then got a ride back to fire camp. By then, hundreds of people – fire fighters and support services were there. We spent almost a full week at that fire mopping up (putting out fires inside the perimeter.)
Because of the thick brush, the fires were very hot and killed a majority of the large pines in the upper reaches of the drainage. All of us together were able to keep the fire mostly contained to the drainage (about a thousand acres.)
The next year, a similar fire broke out in the drainage immediately south of this fire. That drainage was also clogged by thick brush. The end result of the fire was similar devastation to the upper elevation pines. Since the previous year’s fire consumed almost all the brush in the drainage to the north, there were mostly grasses and forbs growing amongst the dead ghostly pines. There wasn’t enough fuel for the fire to advance and it kept contained naturally. We still had a problem with overgrown brush on the southern side.
During my third year, my opinion of fighting fires changed completely from where it had been 3 years earlier. Fire is part of nature to keep forests and its wildlife healthy. Suppressing the fires at all costs just promotes conditions that make an inevitable fire all that more devastating. Nature always bats last. Forest managers are wising up and physically reducing dense brush in strategic corridors to help keep the fires from raging out of control. This comes at enormous costs and is needed simply because of overzealous firefighting actions for the last century +. At some point, our resources will dwindle enough to make heroic firefighting efforts too expensive. Then what?
I truly feel sorry for people who have their houses destroyed by a firestorm. Many have built or bought combustible buildings in beautiful locations next to naturally growing combustible material. They also plant woody plants too close to the structure purely for aesthetic purposes. When the conditions are ripe, a fire begins due to natural or manmade causes. Structures burn and literally add fuel to the fire. Winds carry the embers far downwind causing spot fires to erupt into a dangerous maelstrom.
Yet, when the property owners return to their burned out property, they vow to rebuild. Nature isn’t going to beat them. They rebuild with similar architecturally combustible structures and they adorn them with landscaping that adds fuel to the inevitable fire. As an example, here’s a website I found concerning the rebuilding of Paradise, CA after the 2018 Camp fire destroyed it: https://www.rebuildparadise.org/. There’s a short video (1 minute 35 seconds) included. Check it out and ask yourself what are they thinking?
Although I feel sorry for these people, I don’t feel responsible for their plight. They just didn’t learn the most important fire lesson. After they’ve completely rebuilt and complacency becomes the norm, they’re rife for another fire catastrophe.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Adam and other CA people.
What is the app to get emergency fire related announcements?
(was mentioned last year and I can’t find it.)
Awesome post Grover