preparing for high wind event wildfires

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SSSdave
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preparing for high wind event wildfires

Post by SSSdave » Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:04 pm

I am admittedly looking at crumbs of information versus what authorities use but given the criticisms after the recent Santa Rosa holocaust on fire warning preparedness and deployment, it seems the same played out again in the Camp Fire. Thus a reason for this thread is to kick around the dangers of complacent attitudes, ignoring high wind event wildfires as the destruction and loss of lives is utterly horrible.

If the fire started early Thursday morning 5 miles east of Paradise when winds were already strong, and a strong wind event had been forecast for 2 previous days, why did authorities wait 3 hours until the fire actually reached Paradise 5 miles west to start people evacuating when they and residents should have been in a hair trigger situation? With 40>50 mph winds, Paradise residents would have seen smoke just a few minutes after the fire started. Why don't those fire prone communities have a loud siren to help get people's attention in such Santa Rosa like fires? I also get the impression the town of Paradise was unprepared for an evacuation. It seems like authorities did not understand their whole town was in danger and instead they were up against just one of the smaller fires they had dealt with in the past, just like the mindset in Santa Rose.

https://www.redding.com/story/news/2018 ... 930719002/

This news site has a timeline of the Camp Fire:

snippets:

According to the California Highway Patrol, reports of a small fire in the canyon came in around 6:30 a.m. By 9 a.m., the fire was estimated at 2,500 acres (4 sq miles) and growing.

EVACUATION ORDER 9:33 AM- an evacuation order has been issued for the Carnegie Zone, North Pines Zone, North Fir Haven Zone and South Fir Haven Zone. If assistance is needed to evacuate, please call 911#ButteSheriff#CampFire — Butte County Sheriff (@ButteSheriff) November 8, 2018

Some patients are sheltering with staff at the hospital, Maureen Wisener, public information officer said. She said that she can see fire of both sides of Pentz Road. (east end of Paradise) The communities of Pulga and Concow are also being evacuated. Information was scarce. The town of Paradise’s website was down. Skyway was closed heading up to Paradise so all four lanes could be used for downhill traffic to evacuate to the valley. In Paradise, zones 2, 6, 7 and 13 are being ordered to evacuate and zones 11 and 12 are under an evacuation warning, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Butte Creek Canyon is also under an evacuation warning.
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rlown
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Re: preparing for high wind event wildfires

Post by rlown » Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:44 pm

As I live near Santa Rosa, they do not have sirens (yet.) We're currently covered in smoke in Petaluma.
The Santa Rosa fires started at night, so most were asleep. It still comes back to Eastern brush and forestry mgmt (logging.)
The powers that be haven't addressed that.

The fire response was such that they could not fight it as it raged.

If you smell smoke, or your pets bark, get out anyway.

We don't like the wind anymore.

How about posting a nice picture instead of beating a dead horse.

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Re: preparing for high wind event wildfires

Post by SSSdave » Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:55 pm

Obviously those like you in communities decimated now get it, however as noted that change in attitudes is facing considerable resistance elsewhere so is worth putting out in the public light. And am seeing such opinions in news today.

https://www.sfgate.com/california-wildf ... d=sfgatehp

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editoria ... story.html
Last edited by SSSdave on Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rlown
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Re: preparing for high wind event wildfires

Post by rlown » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:01 pm

Obviously those like you in communities decimated now get it, however as noted that change in attitudes is facing considerable resistance elsewhere so is worth putting out in the public light.
Where is the resistance, oh wise one. This was obvious to most.

We've all read and have seen the destruction. What is your point?
Who is supposed to address it? CalFire? State Legislature? (good luck on that one.)

CalFire should be working year round to clear brush, especially with the new parcel tax.
PG&E should clear lines. And they aren't until threatened, and the "environmentalist's" block them at every turn.
Logging should be brought back after the ladder fuels are removed. This isn't rocket science.
Remember that Paradise city leaders didn't want to ruin the woodsy look of their town. Guess how that ended up.

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Re: preparing for high wind event wildfires

Post by SSSdave » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:18 pm

rlown >>>"...Who is supposed to address it? CalFire? State Legislature? (good luck on that one.)"

Exactly. We peon people need to bang on the heads of our politicians for real change at a state level or else the powers that be, win out letting local governments policies continue that plays into their own economic game plans. As noted on this thread, I am spreading those voices of those in news media that after yet another catastrophe, are again right now trying to awaken our populations into effective action.

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Re: preparing for high wind event wildfires

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:02 pm

A piece in the Sacramento Bee talked about evacuation plans. Paradise had a brush with a fire like this in 2008. After that they made an evacuation plan and actually practiced it, ran several drills. The problem with the Camp Fire was that it moved so fast, that their evacuation plan would not get people out in time. Evidently the town has a lot of dead end roads with only one way out. The idea was to evacuate one segment at a time. As for people seeing the fire, it was early morning and most were still asleep. Another problem with evacuation was that the town is very much a retirement town and there were a lot of disabled and elderly people who simply were not capable of moving very quickly. That said, there were many who watched the flames and did not think it would hit them, but the winds shifted.

The big question is a second fire in 8 years indicates that the town simply should not be there. It's location is the problem. Same issue with repeated rebuilding in flood zones.

Not sure if a cause or simply a result of the fire, but PG&E transformer in the area blew nearly the same time. If shown that this was the cause, should PG&E shoulder the cost? We move out to fire-hazard areas and then want electricity, so are not we part of the problem?

I got to think how we would survive a fast moving fire through our neighborhood. I am sure the roads would soon be clogged. We are less than a mile walk down to the river. Should we walk down and sit in the river? Or should we just go sit in our swimming pool? I then thought about bomb shelters (big trendy thing to have in your house when I was growing up). Should we build a "fire shelter"?

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Re: preparing for high wind event wildfires

Post by psykokid » Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:57 am

My inlaws house was on the far eastern edge of Paradise, pretty much due west from where the fire started. My FIL's brother lives up in Forest Ranch off of 32 and was driving to his job in Chico Thursday morning when he saw the smoke plume and called my FIL. With that info they had about a 20 min head start on getting their stuff together and, grabbing their dog and to try and get out of town. My MIL ended up heading down clark to Skyway and making down the NB lanes when they opened everything up to traffic. She and my FIL were driving their own cars and got split up. It ended up taking my FIL almost 8 hours to get off the hill and to meet up with my MIL on Thursday.

I agree part of the problem with people getting out of town is that there are really only 4 roads leading two and from the top of the ridge - Pentz, Clark, Neal, and Skyway. Of those 4, only skyway is 4 lanes, the other three are small two lane roads. Of the 4 roads, two of them had fire actively burning on both sides, Pentz and Skyway.

They got word from a neighbor yesterday that has a friend on the local SAR team that all the houses on their entire street are gone. They sold their place down here in Socal and moved up to Paradise at the start of 2017.

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Re: preparing for high wind event wildfires

Post by SSSdave » Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:37 am

Thanks for that input psykokid. Your relatives must be agonizing. Let's hope they receive good help recovering.

Thanks WD for pointing out the SacBee articles. They are thoroughly covering wildfires and as noted that urban area is in the crosshairs of the worst potential area that could burn. I lived several years in Citrus Heights, Orangevale, and Fair Oaks during my grade school years. Those more urbanized areas are probably safe because the extensive blue oak savanna, riparian woodlands, and open fields in my era have been greatly paved over with housing tracks and commercial developments. Just a bit east, there is much more chaparral and trees mixed with expensive housing on larger acreage lots.

A lot of land across our state had been bought up decades ago while land was cheap by real estate financial investment groups usually financed with loans by large national banks and eventually sold to housing and commercial developers. That gold rush was especially true in the Los Angeles region. Those same powerful pro development interests will continue to pressure government as they still own large amounts of rural lands they expect to sell using cheapest wood construction methods lest buyers not be able to afford forking over their money.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/calif ... 85910.html

snippet:

The state’s urban sprawl and encroachment into formerly undeveloped land is the real catalyst, though, said former Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District chief Kurt Henke.
A recent Villanova University study found there are about 7 million homes in fire-prone areas in the West, more than 10 times the 600,000 or so that were present in 1940. That includes nearly 2,000 homes in Folsom and about 4,600 in the greater Sacramento region. Environmental scientists believe 1.2 million more could be built in the highest-risk areas statewide between 2000 and 2050.

A reporter on the following news video describes an elderly person with power out that did not evacuate. Strong evidence why such areas ought to have loud sirens to warn all residents instead of solely relying on modern communication like phones, Internet, tv, radio, etc. During the cold war era, such massive sirens that can be heard for miles were common in order to warn communities of nuclear war and I recall region wide drills while at school hiding beneath desks. They are much more likely to wake sleeping people up at night and the frightening sound will tend to shock anyone into quick action.

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/loca ... -613356627

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Re: preparing for high wind event wildfires

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:35 am

Sirens work well when there is actually something you can immediately do. I lived in eastern Wyoming where we had tornado sirens. They were very helpful, because we had a basement to go to. Also, tornados are fairly quick; you go hide from them for a few hours and then they are gone. In the case of the Camp Fire, I doubt sirens would have helped.

But agree, especially in a retirement town, cell phone warnings will not reach everyone. Perhaps a better idea would be to expand the "neighborhood watch" system, where one person in a neighborhood gets the message and then makes sure everyone is notified, even if it means knocking on doors.

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Re: preparing for high wind event wildfires

Post by SSSdave » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:10 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:35 am
Sirens work well when there is actually something you can immediately do. I.... In the case of the Camp Fire, I doubt sirens would have helped.
Indeed sirens would not have worked if they went off when the evacuation orders at 9:30am were released because by then the fire had been building for 3 hours and had already burned across 4 plus miles reaching eastern Paradise and Madgalia streets. But what would have worked is if a siren had gone off within the first half hour to hour, say by 7am to 7:30am. People would have even had a chance to grab a few important belongings.

There are news reports that the small community at Concow, a mile west of where the fire started at Poe along the Feather River and still 3 plus miles from Paradise, was already seeing flames at 8:30am. The authorities given winds and dry conditions should have been on hair trigger status ready to warn residents immediately, without waiting for higher management to assess whatever. We'd already seen what happened in the Carr and Santa Rosa, and Oakland Hills fires but it seems the reality of how fast high wind driven fires can explode has not yet soaked in statewide. The authorities did not have the luxury of waiting around yakking for an hour or two like they can in usual lower wind fires for a consensus of what to do. And those in the town of Paradise, especially the authorities, should have been aware what happened was possible, prepared and ready at the sign of any fire due east where winds were coming from.

https://www.google.com/maps/@39.7703339 ... 398,13.33z

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