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#165661 - 01/29/09 10:49 PM Re: Stay and defend your home from a wildfire? [Re: scafool]

When I lived in New Mexico, the feds or state offered a program where they would pay, if I recall, 70% of the cost of having guys come in (their selected contractors)and create a defensible space around your dwellings. You had to sign up and they determined if you lived in the risk areas and qualified- I did, so they approved my property for the program.

I forget the term, I want to say "establish a basal rate", but essentially, these guys would come in, make suggestions about what and where your trees/foliage should be cut or removed, then cut it up into firewood sized chunks and mulched the rest. You got to keep it all if you wanted, I think it cost me $200 and I got 11 cords of wood (scrub oak, pine and pinon) and a ridiculous amount of mulch for which everyone within 20 miles was grateful (I put up a sign and gave it away).

The TV also had these companies advertising day and night-


Never heard of anyone buying in, but always intrigued me.

#165705 - 01/30/09 11:07 AM Re: Stay and defend your home from a wildfire? [Re: Art_in_FL]
adam2 Offline

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 470
Loc: Somerset UK
Originally Posted By: Art_in_FL
Swimming pools are good to have, generally, and are handy for keeping water on hand but most home pools are relatively small.

A pool 30' by 20' by 5' is about 22,500 gallons. Sounds like a lot until you figure a 1-1/2" hose line eats up 90 to 120 gallons a minute. Giving yourself a safety factor figure 120gpm, or 2 gallons a second.

Out of that pool you are only going to get 187.5 minutes, 3 hours and 7.5 minutes of water at that rate. And that is just one hose line. Use a second line or run a roof watering system on it and it won't last long. A fire may be dropping large embers on your house for a day or more before the fire gets to you.

You may be able to husband your water supply by using lower pressures on your pumps and/or smaller lines while your just smothering sparks. You can also make every gallon work harder for you by using chemical additives, like class-A foam or gel to cover your exposures, but once the water is gone your done.

Plan well. Know how much water you have on hand and how much your pumping systems consume per minute.

Indeed, though remember that it should be possible to suplement the swiming pool water with well water or city water supply.
If fire threatens and you intend to stay and defend, the swiming pool should filled to the overflow level, and any other large containers filled also.
Another possibility would be to connect the rain water drains from the house roof to a water tank rather than a drain or sewer. Then most of the water directed to the roof for firefighting would end up in the tank and could be re used.
This might best be done by running a large bore pipe from the tank to the swimming pool, install a valve on this pipe, which normaly should be shut to keep dirty roof water out of the clean pool. In case of fire, open the valve in order that fire fighting water running off the roof can be re used.
Prior to the fire, the tank should fill with rainwater which will suplement the pool contents.

#166747 - 02/09/09 09:18 AM Re: Stay and defend your home from a wildfire? [Re: JohnE]
quick_joey_small Offline

Registered: 01/13/09
Posts: 560
Loc: UK
Quotes from the BBC News website on the current Australian fires:

'The number of deaths from wildfires that have already claimed 131 lives in the Australian state of Victoria is likely to rise, officials have warned.'

'Survivors have recounted how they fled walls of flames. Some people died in their cars trying to escape the fires.'

'Some rural towns have been almost completely destroyed.'

'there are around 30 fires still burning in Victoria state with several communities at risk, officials said.'

'Furnace-like heat'

'Pretty certain my house has gone'

'people thought they had hours when in fact they only had minutes to escape the fast advancing flames.'

Some described escaping down roads lined with burning trees, while their cars caught fire in the furnace-like heat.

Another man said he siphoned off the water from his vehicle's radiator to try to save the life of a neighbour who had been set alight.

"Balls of fire would rain out of the sky long before we actually saw the wall of flames coming through the trees," Christopher Barnes, of Kinglake, said.

"The sounds are incredible. I thought at the start that it was thunder and it was actually the sounds of the fire coming through the bush."

'roads were blocked and trees had fallen.'

'The bodies of people have already been found trapped in the burnt-out wreckage of cars and homes, and investigators fear more will be found when a full search of the charred settlements can be carried out.'


#166753 - 02/09/09 01:19 PM Re: Stay and defend your home from a wildfire? [Re: quick_joey_small]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5341
This is why I pack my truck early (my neighbor left early) -- and we live in the suburbs. If I lived at the other end of the county, home construction (concrete, steel shutters, we already have a steel roof) and vegetation set-backs would be taken much more seriously.

We have the same Eucalyptus trees here in SD that they have in Oz and when fed by Santa Ana winds the fire can travel a good distance and easily jump a 10 lane interstate. The "Balls of fire would rain out of the sky" comments describes what happens when Eucalyptus trees catch fire and explode. The fire travels downwind where it starts more fires. Those are the fires that concern our neighborhood.
Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.
Okay, what’s your point??

#166761 - 02/09/09 02:53 PM Re: Stay and defend your home from a wildfire? [Re: Russ]
adam2 Offline

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 470
Loc: Somerset UK
Fire resistant housing construction would appear to be desirable, and should perhaps be a legal requirement in high risk areas.

Some aerial views of the disaster show piles of ashes that were homes, surrounded by almost intact vegatation.
This suggests that in some areas at least, the main fuel feeding the fires was not vegetation, but houses.

It would appear that perhaps, one house ignites from a wind blowm ember, and the fire then spreads from house to house, with little contribution from the vegetation, which in some areas was sparse.

It must be remembered that the heat produced by a burning wooden house is sufficient to ignite neighbouring houses.
Reducing the fuel load by removal of vegetion etc. certainly helps, but what about reducing the fuel load by replacing timber houses with brick or stone?

#166772 - 02/09/09 07:02 PM Re: Stay and defend your home from a wildfire? [Re: adam2]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: adam2
Reducing the fuel load by removal of vegetion etc. certainly helps...

Speaking of fuel load, going off on a bit of a different tangent here, but I was recently reading that the fuel loads in southeastern Australia were extremely high from decades of growth with no systematic thinning or back burning. Add in years of serious drought. Unfortunately, such abundant fuel means unnaturally hot and dangerous wildfires.

Sounds like a truly horrific situation Down Under.

#166773 - 02/09/09 07:13 PM Re: Stay and defend your home from a wildfire? [Re: quick_joey_small]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Although I think no one is surprised that many of these wildfires raging in Australia now are likely arson, I felt a bit sick to my stomach when I read that there are indications that some of these recent fires were reignited by arsonists after being brought under control by fire fighters. That is so... mad

#166807 - 02/10/09 02:13 AM Re: Stay and defend your home from a wildfire? [Re: Arney]
scafool Offline

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka
They are also going through a record drought in that part of Australia.
It is so dry Koala Bears are approaching humans for water, and that is a very unusual thing.

Edited by scafool (02/10/09 02:14 AM)
May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.

#166841 - 02/10/09 05:37 PM Re: Stay and defend your home from a wildfire? [Re: KG2V]
yelp Offline

Registered: 06/04/08
Posts: 172
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: KG2V_was_kc2ixe
I've always wondered - if I lived in a wildfire prone area, could you build a true "shelter" - say (off my head) a fully underground concrete (say 6" walls and roof) room detactched from the house. Say the roof is 12" below grade, and you have steps down, door, corridor, door, room.

I would think with a facility like that (and saw water haze in the corridor), you could stay and defend pretty much till the end, and worst comes to worst, it burns over the top

A "fire bunker," field proven:

(posting this as someone that has unintentionally done a bunch of stupid stuff in the past and will again...)

#166850 - 02/10/09 11:36 PM Re: Stay and defend your home from a wildfire? [Re: yelp]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: yelp
A "fire bunker," field proven...

Egads, you read the little quote in that link and the owners are saying that the "fireproof" door to the bunker was already warped and buckled from heat and wouldn't close properly in the time it took for them to realize that they needed to seek shelter? That's a lot of heat!

Actually, one of the points that I've read a number of times is just how fast these wildfires spread--much, much faster than is typical. That seems to be a primary reason why so many people were overcome by flames in their vehicles. These weren't necessarily people who waited "too late" or were trying to fight the fire and then fled at the last second. They could have been people who usually leave early and who are accustomed to living with the danger of fire but the flames were there before anyone knew what was happening.

I read one interview where the person was saying that initially, they saw a fire burning in the distance that would normally take a day to reach their position. However, in this case, it took less than an hour to be at their doorstep. Can you imagine? One minute, you see a distant fire and then you could be on the other side of your house, loading up the car, getting ready to bug out with plenty of time to spare, and next thing you know, there's a huge wall of flame roaring towards you from different sides. eek

That's frightening stuff. Actually, every wildfire here in Southern California, you always see people interviewed on TV who aren't planning on fighting the fire and have their car all loaded up, ready to go, but they insist on staying until the last second before evacuating. I'm a homeowner, too, and I could never understand that thinking.

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