Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

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dave54
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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by dave54 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:41 pm

I am not aware of any research showing an increase in foehn wind events due to climate change. I have not noticed an increase over my lifetime. Many other locations around the world also experience foehn winds, not just the US.
There may be a foehn wind change, I have not seen any research one way or another.

Tasmania is having a bad fire season now, with around 4% of their total land area burned so far this season. For reference, California burned ~1.7% of its total land area in 2018. South Africa is also cooking off now. It is not just a US phenomena.


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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:50 am

Interesting that an article was just in the Sacramento Bee this morning citing a study that said one positive aspect of climate change for southern California is that Santa Anna winds should become less in the future. My observation of increased winds, are only for what I see in Sacramento- may be just a localized thing.

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by rightstar76 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 1:13 pm

I read the same article. However, it stated that although there would be less Santa Ana wind driven fires, overall, the fire risk would increase because the fire season would be longer and the climate warmer:
Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor of earth science at Stanford University, said the findings were an important contribution to understanding wildfire risk in California. But the result didn't assuage his concerns about climate change's potential to drive dangerous conflagrations.

"I don't see a sufficient reduction of winds to override the wildfire risks from warming," he said. "It's clear that the warming itself has already substantially increased wildfire risk."
The Scripps study found that although such consecutive wildfire events will be somewhat less likely in the future, the risk will continue, especially in December.
https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/calif ... 92505.html

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by longri » Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:39 pm

dave54 wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:41 pm
Tasmania is having a bad fire season now, with around 4% of their total land area burned so far this season. For reference, California burned ~1.7% of its total land area in 2018. South Africa is also cooking off now. It is not just a US phenomena.

That was the point of my earlier post. It's not just here at home. You can't fly far enough to escape what's happening.

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by rightstar76 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:20 am

Exactly. It's global and is going to take an international response.
If we keep on with business as usual, the Earth will be warmed more every year; drought and floods will be endemic; many more cities, provinces, and whole nations will be submerged beneath the waves — unless heroic worldwide engineering countermeasures are taken.
- Carl Sagan from Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (Page 135)

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:31 am

Throughout history fire/arson has also been used as a weapon. Global crises tend to cause more global conflict as millions are displaced, and scares resources tend to create wars, in which fire is one kind of weapon.

Any physical disruption of urban infrastructure, such as power lines, gas mains, and other flammables, can create fires that destroy even more than the phenomena that caused the initial event. For example; My grandfather had just landed in San Francisco as an immigrant, and the1906 earthquake hit. He somehow had contracted malaria in his travels, and was really sick, lying in the gutters of San Francisco, watching fires destroy most of the city. He lay there for days while fires burned and remember being kicked by someone who said, "do not bother, this one is dead". How he came out of that alive is a wonder. He was so scared that he packed up and worked the railroads going eastward to Wisconsin, where he was told there were "lots of Scandinavians" and no earthquakes! He ended up a poor dairy farmer; his brothers saw opportunity in disaster - stayed and helped rebuild San Francisco, becoming quite well-off.

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by balzaccom » Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:13 pm

That should be a book, Daisy. thanks for telling that story.
Balzaccom

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by hikerchick395 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:25 pm

My most personal experiences with California wildfires have been caused by wind events. And electrical lines.

After my husband and I cleared land and helped with the build, my sister and her family moved into their new home in Magalia (above Paradise) in 1995. We didn't care for the area...red mud, poison oak, hazy skies due to rice field burning and the threat of fire. We were so scared for them to be in a fire. In June of that same year, we had our own fire here...the Pole Fire...in mostly sage and bitterbrush country. There was a spark which started a fire on an electrical pole at the base of Mount Tom. I took photos as the fire was watched by a single forest service tender. Why it wasn't extinguished I'll never comprehend. Here come the winds up to 90 mph. And the quick spread of the fire. It spread with the wind and against the wind and up the slope of Mount Tom. It came to within 1/2 mile of our home in Rovana. We were packed up ready to evacuate but luckily never had to get the word to get out. So we rethought our fears about my sister's home.

Fast forward almost twenty years later...a spark in the electrical lines was caused by wind on the Old Sherwin Grade in February 2015. (A branch had torn through our home's roof, trees blew down in the yard and our travel trailer got knocked off of it's jacks, the wind was so strong.) There had been so much dust it was hard to see that the smoke WAS smoke. But then flames were visible. Neighbors gathered to watch as "our" Paradise got engulfed in flames and smoke. We thought it was gone. (One home did burn.) The march of flames raged on and as the fire approached the escarpment it split and turned our way. Suddenly the spectators had to scramble to be ready to evacuate. The Round Fire did burn 48 more homes up in Swall Meadows. It came to within one and 1/2 miles of us, but it seemed much closer in the dusk, then darkness. Rain and snow stopped the advance of the fire.

So this year, November 4th, my husband and I were on our 7th or 8th trip back from Paradise. (My mom had a few serious medical issues this year so we visited frequently.) We passed the road to Pulga and the winds were howling. As usual, we said, "you couldn't pay me to live over here..." Well, four days later the Camp Fire ignited right there near Highway 70. My sister sent me a photo before 7:30am and it was already big, though miles away. Her first "priority" was to get a shower, before the power went out. It would be her third evacuation this year alone, so maybe not seeming so urgent to pack up. Her husband came home and was a bit more panicked. They hastily packed up some belongings and the cats. (The dogs ran away, scared from the exploding propane tanks.) They took their motorhome and their newest Subaru. They had to go out the north eastern direction to escape. They got out safely. That may not have been the case if they had to go pick up my mom. We had moved her from the center of the town of Paradise to Chico in August.

It took only hours to know my brother-in-law's business burned. But it took almost a week to find out my sister's home burned. One of only two out on that ridge. And they lost 14 rental properties. So devastating! The medical clinic that we had taken my mom to, just the week prior burned. (My nephew's home, which he built himself and had moved into in October was spared...the home next to his burned. But they can't move back home because of clean up and no water.) And to see everything in person. Indescribable. And it is pretty much decided that it was an electrical problem that sparked the Camp Fire.

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by rightstar76 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:37 am

Some factors.

Drought:
California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said, “California’s forests offer great recreational opportunities and provide significant ecological and economic benefits. Years of drought and a bark beetle epidemic have caused one of the largest tree die-offs in state history.
http://southtahoenow.com/story/02/11/20 ... ornia-2018

Heat:
Drought will likely become more frequent with climate change, but even without more frequent drought, higher temperatures can exacerbate tree water stress.
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1 ... a93be/meta

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by mrphil » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:58 am

Hikerchick,

I'm sorry for all the losses of you and your family.

From the way you put all the factors together, it sounds like it was a combination of all three factors: a spark that started it, an overabundance of fuel, and the location where everyone was living. I think it's all coming together at this time to produce a deadly recipe, but one wherein no single ingredient can be held as mutually exclusive as the "cause". Fire, regardless of how it starts, needs fuel to keep burning. And for that fire to do damage to people and property, unlike in the past when it moved through huge tracts of land without incident, people have to be there to be affected. In the latter, while we might have to right and the desire to live where we choose, not unlike your own conclusions in questioning your sister's situation, is it prudent to begin with, and can we reasonably expect any outcome other than acceptance as the steep price we might be forced to pay for our decisions?

So, for you and all the other victims of the Camp fire to take an honest inventory, was it PG&E singularly, or was it that everything came together for the worst possible case scenario?

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