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  #1  
Old 09-04-2009, 06:58 AM
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California Wildfires

I admit that I am in the engineering field, so I am a problem-solver. Wife complains about something, and I am ready to "fix" it for her--In that case its the wrong approach, but generally its what I do.

OK, "California Wild Fires destroy XXX homes."
I think I've seen/ heard that headline evry year, this time for decades.
The problem-solver in me says. "There must be a way to fix this" Either change the environment, or cut more firebreaks, or prohibit houses in wild fire areas.

Yet it goes on year after year.

(sort of the same as people rebuilding in a flood plain)

Someone has to 'plain this to me. "Why?"
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:51 AM
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It's just that brush they have that is always there. The fire fighters try and burn it so when fire season comes it doesn't have any fuel. These recent fires though have been started by people and the Esperanza fires were started by someone, and those fires were pretty bad.. I think a few fire fighters lost their lives trying to fight that one cause of the dumb@ss that started it.

Much of that area is just asking for a fire most of the time. There is a period naturally that brings winds and extremely dry conditions and once a fire starts the climate supports it 100% unless the winds die down and the humidity goes up. And since Southern California doesn't get that much rain, we can't rely on that..

There is just lots of dead brush all over that area.. There is a code enforcement for people who live in the Hollywood hills and such that they need to keep their yard brush free or they get fines I believe.
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:00 PM
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My sister lives in Big Bear. IIRC she told me that some group wanted to thin out a huge portion of the forest there to cut down on the possibility of this happening. I believe she said the cost wold be substantial and they did not have the cash. Fast forward a few years and they had a huge fire that cost twice as much to contain and nearly burned down the city.

I seem to recall seeing something on TV a while back. Not sure if the experiment took place here or abroad. Seems they designed a way to create a fire break with out being to intrusive and it worked. They did several test fires and the fire never jumped. Not sure what became of that.

CA is a desert with lots of people, poor land management (like the rest of the country) and there are going to be fires. I doubt it will change soon.
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:18 PM
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like david mentioned, it only costs money on another money note, I work for the large electric utility here in so cal and almost every year we are asked by various consumer advocate's groups to bury our large 220 to 500kv lines (the big lines that are on transmission towers) under the soil. they argue that this will eliminate fires caused by down power lines. Yes, while it may substantially minimize the occurence, it costs substantially more to bury lines that large into the earth. oh, and the "rate payers" (thats you and me) flip the bill and that usually stops the discussion right then and there---to a point.

maintenance becomes a huge issue as you will need to excavate those lines if need be. its the exact reason and parrells the reason why many undeveloped countries almost always prefer to set up wireless networks vs wired underground or above ground (overhead) phone lines.
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:47 PM
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They're right, it'll cost a lot of money..

California is in a "budget crisis" so we can bet we won't see anything like that for awhile, unfortunately..
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Old 09-04-2009, 02:44 PM
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It's not an exclusively californian problem. We have a similar situation here in AZ in the high country up on the rim. People want to be in the forests, coupled with piss poor land management laws and practices and you have the tinder boxes that were created over the last few decades. I'm afraid it will take a few decades more for fires to burn thru the remaining fuel and a new era of forest growth, and hopefully more intelligent management practices to alleviate the problem.

- Peter.
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Old 09-04-2009, 02:52 PM
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I don't see how you can manage such a huge area of land, it's almost impossible with out spending billions of dollars.

The question is: should people live there and if they do should they pick up the tap them self(?).
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Old 09-04-2009, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorn View Post
I don't see how you can manage such a huge area of land, it's almost impossible with out spending billions of dollars.

The question is: should people live there and if they do should they pick up the tap them self(?).
National forests are managed by the forest service. The poor management practices are largely eco-freak driven prohibbitions against felling trees in these areas as well as stopping forest fires for decades that would have reduced the fuel load. Those two things need to be reversed. They have learned their lesson about stamping out forest fires and now actually try controlled burns to reduce the danger, but it's too little too late in my opinion. Changing eco-freak mindsets unfortunately is not as easy.

- Peter.
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  #9  
Old 09-04-2009, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MS Fowler View Post
I admit that I am in the engineering field, so I am a problem-solver. Wife complains about something, and I am ready to "fix" it for her--In that case its the wrong approach, but generally its what I do.

OK, "California Wild Fires destroy XXX homes."
I think I've seen/ heard that headline evry year, this time for decades.
The problem-solver in me says. "There must be a way to fix this" Either change the environment, or cut more firebreaks, or prohibit houses in wild fire areas.

Yet it goes on year after year.

(sort of the same as people rebuilding in a flood plain)

Someone has to 'plain this to me. "Why?"
Because of the rapid population growth (until recently) in California houses are being built in areas that were previously not considered.
A good portion of the people who move to the "country" don't understand the threat of fire until it is too late. Add to this that you can no longer just change the environment or cut a firebreak on your property without an EIR (environmental impact report). In certain places the brush has even been declared an "endangered species"!

The best thing you can do is keep brush, dry grass, etc at least 100 feet or more from your structure. Don't stack firewood, lumber piles, etc against the side of the house. Make sure you have a clear ingress, egress, and turnaround for a fire engine. The more likely you can make it for firefighters to be able to save your house, the better your chances are. Unfortunately resources are limited during wildland fires, and it just doesn't make sense to waste resources and endanger firefighters on what we call a "Loser". (no vegetation clearance, deadend with no turnaround, wood siding, shingle roof, etc.). I remember 1 house that had all of these
things and the homeowner said "thats why I have fire insurance!". That attitude kind of sums up the reason why so many structures are destroyed.

There are a lot of new building codes that address the wildland fire problem- no wooden decks, no vents, no wood siding or roofs,and others
I dont know yet, but it remains to be seen how effective they will be.
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Old 09-04-2009, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorn View Post
I don't see how you can manage such a huge area of land, it's almost impossible with out spending billions of dollars.

The question is: should people live there and if they do should they pick up the tap them self(?).
Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought? Damn near every populated place has some sort of risk. No one could afford to live in most of the country if we all had to 'fend for our selves'. Spreading out the cost seems to be the most logical way to allow people to live in more locations. Other wise, we will all be living in who knows where stacked up like cord wood similar to Tokyo.
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- God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance that's getting smaller and smaller as time moves on..." Neil DeGrasse Tyson
- You can pray for me, I'll think for you.
- When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.
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  #11  
Old 09-04-2009, 05:39 PM
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We need a small hurricane here in California... seriously... We need rain really bad and we never get enough. Big Bear lake in the mountains is really low compared to how it was back in the early 2000's. If we got a decent amount of rain annually I don't think we we have such a big fire problem..

Washington and Oregon hog all the rain and they don't share any of it lol
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Old 09-04-2009, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmash View Post
Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought? Damn near every populated place has some sort of risk. No one could afford to live in most of the country if we all had to 'fend for our selves'. Spreading out the cost seems to be the most logical way to allow people to live in more locations. Other wise, we will all be living in who knows where stacked up like cord wood similar to Tokyo.
I think there are exceptions: if you choose to live in those fire prone areas you know you're going to be hit one day, same for some areas around the golf coast. I don't think others should pick up the bill for some one else taking a calculated risk. But on the other hand maybe you're right and we should all share the risk for the good of the nation.

Tokyo is not a good example: hit by earthquakes and typhoons, NY would be better, are they hit by anything else than snow blizzards?
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Old 09-04-2009, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by JordaanDMC-12 View Post
We need a small hurricane here in California... seriously... We need rain really bad and we never get enough. Big Bear lake in the mountains is really low compared to how it was back in the early 2000's. If we got a decent amount of rain annually I don't think we we have such a big fire problem..

Washington and Oregon hog all the rain and they don't share any of it lol
But than we have the mudslides. Remember the eighties when in almost every Hollywood movie about LA it was raining.
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  #14  
Old 09-04-2009, 06:21 PM
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But than we have the mudslides. Remember the eighties when in almost every Hollywood movie about LA it was raining.
Is there even away to get around that? I mean if we don't get tons of rain.. then we're in a drought and we have forrest fires... But if we have too much rain that would help with the drought we get mudslides.. I choose the rain
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Old 09-06-2009, 02:52 AM
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Here is a picture from today of the smoke from the fires that are still burning!!! This was taken near Pomona.
Attached Thumbnails
California Wildfires-mail.jpeg  
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