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The Fires This Time: Open Thread Edition

MJS's picture

The original Correntewire post about the fires in our SoCal neck of the burning woods is here.

A.M. UPDATE: Corrente's Shystee posted a link (in comments) to Calitics, where one can find more information and related articles.

If you have anything at all to say on this subject, or news you would like to share, please do so.

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More links:

Huffington Post

KABC--Los Angeles

NPR

Sign On San Diego has updates on the situation down south

And don't forget the Gulf Times which declares itself to be "Qatar's top-selling English language daily newspaper"

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UPDATE: for anyone familiar with the Lake Arrowhead/Running Springs areas this link could interest you. It is transcription of what is on the scanner vis a vis the Grass Valley and Slide Fires...

UPDATE 11:00 a.m. PDST: Running Springs (still in the San Bernardino Mountains, just south of Lake Arrowhead) has seen a lot of homes destroyed since last night. The fire retardant-dropping DC-10 has made one successful (apprx. 15 minutes ago) pass and drop above Running Springs. Seeing that large aircraft pass less than five hundred feet above the trees is amazing, and then rising up after the drop as it nearly disappears in the massive smoke clouds--fingers crossed, ancient demiurges invoked, sighs released.

UPDATE 12:45 p.m. PDST: Modjeska Canyon is under attack from fire, and according to a report on ABC-7 it has been successfully evacuated. Named for Polish actress Helena Modjeska, it is a somewhat hidden and much treasured piece of California, immediately adjacent to the Cleveland National Forest. My grandparents built a cabin there in 1951--they lived there until 1968. In my backyard here in L.A. sits the old, black railroad/school bell that used to be on their property. It was used by the volunteer firemen to warn of calamity. Many memories for me up there: the stream that courses through there, the Bird Sanctuary, stories of 19th Century bandits' exploits as they were chased by early versions of California law enforcement (read the white guys). It is a vulnerable spot and difficult to defend.

Sorry if this seems like a protracted family tragedy for moi, but my story is not unlike other natives here in SoCal. Our stories intertwine, from refugees in San Diego to Lake Arrowhead, Agua Dulce/Saugus, Lake Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, Malibu and on. My mother was raised in Malibu--it was her parents who moved to Modjeska. Mom & Dad can't check on their property in Ramona (northeast San Diego County) as the entire community has been evacuated. One of my sisters has a condo near Foothill Ranch, west of Modjeska Canyon--her area was evacuated. My ex and her husband's home in Lake Arrowhead is more than likely one of the hundreds that have burned to the ground there. Me? I'm off to Lake Castaic: my wife, Donna, has rescued a corgi mix who is due to be released today. I'm thinking of naming him Prometheus.

UPDATE 6:30 p.m. PDST: Just got back from Lake Castaic area (with the rescued corgie mix--Donna [my wife] will not allow me to name him Prometheus, but his name has yet to be determined). Smoke was still rising in Castaic--first I noted large, billowing whitish smoke clouds around 3:30, which then went dark rather quickly. Helicopters were dipping down into Lake Castaic and drinking deeply before zipping off to the fire to spit all that water on the fire--the smoke went whitish again in short order.

Looking at the sunset through all that smoke was like tweaking the color function on my iPhoto all the way to the red zone. Smoky, red, blood orange, brackish, like a bbq in end times. Pretty beautiful, actually.

I spoke with my son--he told me the fire chief in the Grass Valley area seemed to be of the opinion that most of the Deer Lodge Park homes escaped the inferno--the fire took a turn (perhaps) around that section north of Lake Arrowhead and, as they say, gave my ex's house "a miss." I hope that is the case.

I'll leave this post sticky for a couple more hours (if no one protests) and then take it down by 9:00 p.m. PDST.

UPDATE 9:30 p.m. PDST: Going offline to spend time with my wife. The rescued corgie (Wally--don't ask) is with us, and our other dogs are pissed off about this development. Oh, well.

Many fires continue to burn throughout the southland tonight, with San Diego still the hardest hit...in future years there will be future fires as well. That's how it's supposed to be here, and had been, for thousands of years. The difference perhaps being that the brush didn't get as densely overgrown as there were no "managers" who practiced fire suppression. We screw with natural patterns at our peril (sound of me getting off my high horse and onto my soapbox). What is happening was predictable, not a fluke. Burn, baby, burn.

Perhaps in the future people will be advised to never be a sucker for an inside straight and never buy a house where the realtors have singed eyebrows.

More fire stories as the week progresses, but probably not by me. I am--you guessed it--burned out.

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MJS's picture
Submitted by MJS on

and we can always let the stations that carry them (and their advertisers) know we will not purchase products promoted on psycho-facisto radio.

Another long day arrives...a lot of newly homeless people in SoCal. My sister in the Irvine area evacuated last night (the Santiago fire was burning just to the east of her in Foothill Ranch). My parent's home in Ramona is probably okay but as the entire town has been evacuated it's too early to say. My ex's house in Deer Lodge Park (Lake Arrowhead) is probably ash--won't know for sure until later. Most of my son's stuff was stored at her house...this is where I insert a cliche about life being more valuable than mere things. The cliche is true, but we still miss the things.

Thank you Shystee for the cool NorCal thoughts. We dream of green valleys and cool mists.

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Submitted by lambert on

The climate is getting more and more extreme. So, forest fires in California, drought in the South, and hey--could be forest fires up here, too, next Spring (we had a thirty-day drought in the Spring and conditions were Red)--or a massive ice storm complete with power failure here. Fortunately, I do have the wood stove...

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by lambert on

Let the guards handle the fires.

I think it's time for a little out-of-box thinking on this. Let the marketplace work its magic!

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

MJS's picture
Submitted by MJS on

Bush "adds his prayers" for the victims of the fires...not surprising nor even noteworthy. But I notice the strange dualism of the fires being characterized as a result (largely, except where arson is suspected) of "Mother Nature" and when someone's home is spared from flames the person will thank "God" who is often seen as a male. Somehow god is not in the mother nature. Remarkable trick performed by an elusive construct, no?

Recently at a local dry cleaners a man was talking about his prayers to God to save his child from cancer--cancer that his god created, no? A purportedly moral deity requires blindspots the size of Jupiter.

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Submitted by lambert on

It's the money that determines how good the gates are, eh?

Gates, walls, moats, interplanetary tranmission chambers, cryogenic facilities ("Freeze yourself until it all blows over!")...

Whatever! The future lies ahead!

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by lambert on

The Kool-Aid drinkers, right?

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by lambert on

What part of "treating all citizens the same way" don't the Republicans understand?

Excellent link, Woody.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

The biggest difference I see is that everyone around N.O. was affected to at least some degree (loss of power, lots of rain) and even the superdome lost power and water, while in San Diego ~500K people had to evacuate, but that leaves 2M+ unaffected people (with schools & many jobs closed), and intact utilities at the stadium & fairgrounds & schools & libraries.

Much of the response at Qualcomm is from other citizens, not the government (notwithstanding Ahnuld's photo-op today). Yeah, someone official had the idea to open the concession stands to give out hot pizza, but from the get-go yesterday they were asking residents to bring donations of water, food, chairs, cots, air mattresses, etc. for the folks in the Qualcomm parking lot. Nearby hotels & restaurants had power, so several "catered" food to the evacuees. Officials announced a temporary cutoff in early evening, requesting that donations restart this morning. My mom's friend collected camping stuff, towels, blankets, playing cards, etc. from her and presumably others and dropped off a carload this afternoon (carpooled donations!).

I'm not disagreeing with Lambert & Woody, just pointing out that they're jumping the gun. The unequal treatment will come with loans & such for rebuilding.

As for "acts of god", I'll wager that the majority of the San Diego fires were caused by downed power lines in the wind. There certainly wasn't lightning, and I'm guessing that few were arson. We'll see if the local utility still advocates for aboveground lines through a state park & wilderness areas because buried lines cost too much.

The gated communities were a disadvantage: with only 1 or 2 roads out, they were put under mandatory evacuations much sooner than nearby open areas.

And, not to scare y'all or anything, but California Chaparral and southwestern forests aren't the only fire-dependent ecosystems: pretty much the entire southeastern coastal plain (from the fall line down) appears to have burned every 1-20 years (depending on soil fertility and thus regrowth of sufficient fuel). Look up a PhD dissertation by Cecil Frost from UNC if you're curious. Venus flytraps are from a wonderful place by Wilmington NC that burns maybe 9 out of 10 years.

ps: www.calfires.com has a great google map for the San Diego fires (put together by the local PBS station), and seems to have the mirroring to avoid clogged bandwidth. The forest service just updated their MODIS imagery with this morning's pass (true color shows smoke plumes, showing the denser fuel at Arrowhead and the eastern side of the Witch fire, false color shows burned areas as dull red and this morning's hot edges as bright red):
http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/imagery....

pps: with power at all evacuation sites, most have free wifi set up for volunteers and evacuees, to the point of asking folks to use text messaging to let friends & relatives know that they're ok rather than swamping the cell phone bandwidth. I saw a couple links to bloggers liveblogging from evacuation centers, but didn't save the links.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

The fire recurrence times of 1-20 years for the southeast are estimated pre-European settlement frequencies

Woody--Tokin Librul's picture
Submitted by Woody--Tokin Librul on

"wrong", though your analysis is also correct, thoughtful, and concise... it is true that the floods were more 'totalized' throughout the region than the fires (hopefully, though there's nothing to stop 'em) will be...

Me? A Quick Study, But A Slow Learner

Submitted by lambert on

that the response to these fires will be reasonably prompt, reasonably efficient, nobody will end up staying in trailers or domes, that our famously free press will laud the administration for "learning" from Katrina, and that nobody, nobody will mention that the main victims of Katrina were black, and as a result of their diaspora from the still unrebuilt city, the state now has a Republican governor.

I mean... They would just never do that.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

bingo!

I predict government-backed loans well beyond FHA guidelines, suspension of some environmental & zoning restrictions, tax credits, and maybe some form of pooled risk or subsidized insurance going forward. [After the 2003 fires, some backcountry areas could only be built with cash: no fire insurance available meant no mortgages.]
I also predict some of the burned trailer parks will not be rebuilt.

My sleeper bet is how different the rebuilding will be north of I8 versus south, the major (but not absolute) class/race divide in San Diego for schools and everything else. Luckily, the Harris fire hasn't ripped into Chula Vista, and the winds appear to be turning.

My point is that the difference from Katrina isn't so much the competency of the immediate response as it will be the money thrown around and the follow through to get these (large, expensive) homes rebuilt. Think W's photo-op at Trent Lott's beachfront house, only with actual followup and without having to sue State Farm.

Submitted by lambert on

The headline:

With Katrina Fresh, Bush Moves Briskly

Yeah, that Sheryl Gay Stolberg, she really gets into it:

It was not quite 2:30 a.m. in Washington on Tuesday when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California asked President Bush to declare an emergency because of the wildfires raging in his state. An hour or so later, the request — pre-approved by Mr. Bush before he left the Oval Office on Monday evening — was granted.

For a presidency still haunted by memories of Hurricane Katrina, the forceful round-the-clock response was a political no-brainer — the “anti-Katrina,” in the words of Peter Wehner, a former domestic policy adviser to Mr. Bush.

And if actions were not enough, Mr. Bush also served up words....

Tell me again what party the Governor of California is from? I keep forgetting...

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Ruth's picture
Submitted by Ruth on

Seriously, I saw a comment this a.m. at WaPo saying it was those campfires along the routes the illeguls travel that started it all.

Wonder how many insurance claims are going to be denied because of arson suspicions, especially those about to lose those houses?

Ruth

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

The only exclusion for arson that I know of is if you try to burn your own property to collect the insurance. If somebody, say, leaves a burning sack of dog poo on your porch, or throws a molotov cocktail, they have to pay.

The exclusion for "war or civil unrest" on the other hand could be invoked if they could somehow weasel up evidence that these alleged "campfires set by illegals" somehow constituted an attack by a rogue Mexican militia/insurgent group. Sounds eye-rollingly ludicrous but such are the times we live in, not to mention the stakes involved.

Somebody, I want to say NYT but I can't find it there (I saw it originally in a thread at Atrios and like an idiot forgot to save the link) has already put together a comparison of the population affected by Katrina vs. SoCal. Percentage of people who own automobiles, number of available exit routes, percent living in poverty, average value of assets owned, average income, percentage of dwellings affected which were owned vs. rented, etc.

Also discussed was the effect of type of disaster. In a flood/hurricane situation the "rescuers" or people available in the immediate area to provide assistance to refugees are almost as bad off as the people they're helping. In the fire situation, as long as power is still on, the assets available are vastly greater.

But I gotta say, of the people they're putting on TV at any rate, this is about as white a calamity as I've ever seen. And a whole lot better dressed than your average flood/hurricant/tsunami victim too.

Submitted by lambert on

Because they hate our freedom.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Ruth's picture
Submitted by Ruth on

setting fires to collect insurance is pretty s.o.p. for restaurants in trouble in my area, and usually there is suspicion when anyone is in trouble making payments. I've incorporated that into my new post, but I guess I should keep thinking on 'terrist' claims. They're sure to come up when it comes time to pay out money they don't have by ins. cos.

Ruth