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#286698 - 10/10/17 03:36 AM California Burning
Doug_Ritter Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1959
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#286699 - 10/10/17 04:26 AM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2154
Loc: Great Plains
A bad situation! I hope all of our Californian members are safe.
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“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#286706 - 10/10/17 09:38 PM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
yes - a very bad situation. Very strong winds in CA yesterday. I am OK, I am down on So. Cal. But I almost rented a house in those suburbs in N. California (with the fires) just a few months ago. Fortunately, I chose a different location.

Hope there are no folks here who are directly affected. It's a very tough thing to see your home burn down like that.

This incident did give me an important heads-up ... to get all the dry wood and dead grass cleared around my property. We have lots of dry grass in our rural area ... it's exactly the same fire hazard that they had in Napa and Santa Rosa. I will be working during the next week to get all the grass cut, weeds cut down, and tree branches sawed up (and stored as firewood).


Edited by Pete (10/10/17 10:33 PM)

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#286709 - 10/11/17 07:25 PM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
TeacherRO Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2326
And to have your radio on, your bug out bag packed and truck fueled.

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#286716 - 10/11/17 10:53 PM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
yes, I do keep the radio on.

latest update .. 21 people dead, 3500 houses destroyed, 560 people unaccounted for. The majority of the missing are probably with friends or in hotels. But the death toll will rise.

The weather will be a serious problem through most of this week - strong dry winds. These fires are not contained yet.

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#286747 - 10/14/17 06:32 AM Re: California Burning [Re: Phaedrus]
katarin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/29/06
Posts: 125
Loc: Ca, usa
I am safe in Sacramento.

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#286753 - 10/14/17 09:26 PM Re: California Burning [Re: katarin]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6576
Loc: southern Cal
Today, with the prediction of Santa Ana winds and high temps, I thought it worthwhile to clean up the old homestead and get rid of all the dry weeds and leaves,just in case a fire comes calling over the hill to the north, as it has in the past.

As I easily filled a large trash can, I thought of what good fire starter this very finely fragmented material would be, later on in the winter and in colder climes and situations. Ah, the paradox of fire!

"Hot item! Honest Hikermor's California Certified Fire Starter"
A Flaming Success!"

It would be a fire sale, naturally.....
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#286755 - 10/15/17 03:15 AM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2719
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I've been watching the news and these are nasty fires. We've had a couple of years of hell up here and know the toll this destruction takes -- and the long, hard road of rebuilding. Be safe, folks. May fortune tip in your favour.


Edited by dougwalkabout (10/15/17 03:17 AM)

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#286756 - 10/15/17 02:18 PM Re: California Burning [Re: dougwalkabout]
adam2 Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 427
Loc: Somerset UK
Looking at UK media reports, it seems that some of the most destructive fires may have started as forest fires, but have developed into urban fires in which the main fuel is houses and vehicles.
Pictures show houses destroyed by fire whilst trees and bushes are still standing.
It seems that once a house burns, that the radiated heat ignites other structures and vehicles, in a chain reaction until a whole area is engulfed and destroyed.

Such fires have more in common with historic URBAN fires such as the great fires of London and Chicago. The fact that they started from a forest fire rather than a bakers oven or a cow kicking an oil lamp is not that relevant.

Major urban fires have historically resulted in improved fire safety, both prevention before the event, and a more effective response when fire breaks out.

Despite the cost, it seems to me that both fire prevention and fire fighting could be improved in high risk areas.

Fire prevention.
Require all new construction to be of brick, stone, or concrete. No more wooden buildings and no more plastic cladding.
All roofs to be fire resistant.
Require all property owners to remove all dry or dead vegetation that is within their property and within 100 feet of any structure.
Encourage the provision of swimming pools or decorative lakes, by tax breaks, in order that most properties will have a reserve water supply of many thousands of gallons.
Encourage all property owners to keep firefighting equipment to hand, an engine driven portable pump, suction and delivery hose etc. Such equipment is not that expensive, every home in a high risk area should be thus equipped.

Fire fighting by TPTB,
Provide more fire trucks and more firefighters.
Modern fire trucks are hugely costly and specialised vehicles that require highly trained firefighters to make good use of them.
I would propose an additional reserve fleet of much more basic equipment, that is cheaper to provide and simpler to use.
Something based on a army truck, with a pump driven by the road engine, and additional portable pump, suction hose and delivery hose, and a short ladder.
Such equipment could be staffed by anyone physically fit who has received a single weeks training.

When fire breaks out, the first attendance should be by a modern fully equipped fire truck staffed by highly trained fire fighters, just like at present.
They will be equipped and trained to handle all sorts of challenging situations including rescues from tall buildings, extrication from vehicle accidents, hazmat incidents and so on.

If however on arrival it is clear that the fire is large but relatively simple, such as a dozen houses on fire and many others threatened, than a radio message could be sent "send six reserve units"
The arrival of say six trucks each with a pump, short ladder, hose and a crew of say six men would help greatly. These reserve units would be affordable to provide in relatively large numbers.

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#286757 - 10/15/17 03:43 PM Re: California Burning [Re: adam2]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6576
Loc: southern Cal
I am sure your proposals make sense from a UK perspective. I am dubious that they will all work as well where these fires are actually occurring.

The standing trees,for the most part are dead, their leaes et al. burned away, as is typical in crown fires.

This is earthquake country and wood frame structures are easily the most quake resistant. One solution is a system that applies fire resistant foam to a structure (usually applied as the owner scurries out the door). Other measures can include metal roofs, anti-ember screens in roof vents, removal of deal leaves and litter (a job I was working on just yesterday and which I will continue shortly).

100 foot clearance is already mandated throughout the state, I believe. In my country, 300 foot clearance is required in susceptible places, with demonstrably good results.

On my one visit to the UK (in August, by chance) I was struck by the exceptional green lushness everywhere. This is a startling contrast to California, where everything is brown - just waiting for that initial spark. Normal conditions here are radically different from Merrie England.

Years ago, when first trained in wild fire suppression, I was told that California chaparral was the most dangerous fire environment. The exceptional conditions we are experiencing now demonstrate the truth of that statement. Remenber that one of these fires jumped a six lane freeway. That is a bit wider than any fire line I ever built.

I am sure there will be tactical analyses and changes to procedures as a result of these fires. I doubt they will include additional half equipped personnel. I would bet on faster air response....
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#286758 - 10/15/17 04:18 PM Re: California Burning [Re: adam2]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1379
Originally Posted By: hikermor
I am sure your proposals make sense from a UK perspective. I am dubious that they will all work as well where these fires are actually occurring.


I agree with Hikermor.

Fighting wildland interface fires is not as easy as throwing people and equipment at the fires. This is especially true when the fires are in mountainous and canyon areas, of which many of these areas have limited road access.

Up here, over 2 million acres burned this summer and even with firefighters being flown in from other countries, it was not enough. People need to think that these fires can have multiple flanks that stretch up to 100 miles or more and there is no possible way to have enough people and equipment pre-deployed over this size of area. Even it were possible, a change in wind could easily leave the pre-deployed people and equipment plan useless as the wind can drive a fire in an opposite direction at many miles per minute.

Also the economic cost of providing more pre-deployed people and equipment could cost in the hundreds of millions per fire season and not too many countries, states or provinces can afford these costs, year after year.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#286759 - 10/15/17 05:17 PM Re: California Burning [Re: Teslinhiker]
adam2 Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 427
Loc: Somerset UK
I was not suggesting that my proposed reserve fire trucks should be used to fight forest fires in open country.

My suggestion was for a reserve fleet of simple fire trucks equipped with basic equipment that can be employed to fight fires that are threatening built up areas.

It seems to me that many properties burnt that could have been saved with a sufficiency of water, and basic equipment with which to apply the water.
If at least every other home had a full pool, and an extra six basic fire trucks each with basic equipment, could be called on, that should help.

As regards construction that is fire resisting AND earthquake resistant, there is a great deal to be said for hollow concrete block construction.
The blocks are laid in the usual way, and then when the walls are complete, but before the roof is put on, vertical reinforcement is added inside the blocks at stress points.

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#286760 - 10/15/17 06:29 PM Re: California Burning [Re: adam2]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6576
Loc: southern Cal
The critical factor was time, due to the extremely high winds; from what I have seen,lack of water is not an issue. There are photos of azure blue swimming pools within gutted neighborhoods;indeed, one couple survived by immersing themselves for six hours in their pool (evidently emerging somewhat hypothermic!).

I know very little about building fire suppression, but what I do know would indicate that it is far from simple. Little things like propane tanks (some of which are huge), electrical overhead lines, various common combustibles stored in homes, render fire suppression rather tricky, to say the least.

If there is something to be said for reinforced concrete construction, would you be so kind as to furnish references? Such would be quite welcome....
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#286761 - 10/15/17 06:29 PM Re: California Burning [Re: adam2]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1379
Originally Posted By: adam2
I was not suggesting that my proposed reserve fire trucks should be used to fight forest fires in open country.

My suggestion was for a reserve fleet of simple fire trucks equipped with basic equipment that can be employed to fight fires that are threatening built up areas.

It seems to me that many properties burnt that could have been saved with a sufficiency of water, and basic equipment with which to apply the water.
If at least every other home had a full pool, and an extra six basic fire trucks each with basic equipment, could be called on, that should help.


Regardless if the wildland fire is in open country or approaching built up areas, if the above were so easy to implement and plan for, it would have been done years ago.

Over the last decade, my home province here in Canada has burned through (no pun intended) over 2.5 billion dollars in wildland fire research, prevention and fighting fires.

In California, they spent over 4 billion in the same time period. So you would think that every possible idea has been taken into consideration by now - including your's - which may seem ok on paper, but in reality have no real world viability. How many people or governments do you know, can afford to have every other home outfitted with a pool and extra fire trucks and equipment?

Up here we had complete cities, towns and communities evacuated because there were not enough resources to guarantee that the firefighters could save the buildings if the fire had advanced into these areas. Unfortunately, many communities could not be saved. Big dangerous fires with intense heat that move 10's of miles per hour and spread over miles of terrain is not worth any person's life to attempt to stop.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#286762 - 10/15/17 06:36 PM Re: California Burning [Re: adam2]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 830
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
In short, building codes. Many years ago, DW and I were traveling through the hills around Malibu, and I was appalled by the number of cedar shake roof shingles I saw on houses. I don't think it is beyond the ken of man to establish building codes that will slow, or prevent, the spread of a fire to a home, and from home to home, in the conditions we are now seeing. Yes, it will cost more to construct, but the savings in lives and homes lost, is worth it.
_________________________
"Better is the enemy of good enough."

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#286765 - 10/15/17 09:20 PM Re: California Burning [Re: bws48]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6576
Loc: southern Cal
As you state,"many years ago." I'll wager those shake roofs have either been replaced or have burned. When I bought my present dwelling, I almost immediately replaced the shake roof with more fire resistant asphalt shingles. It depends on local government, but where I live, fire is definitely a consideration in building codes.
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#286766 - 10/15/17 09:34 PM Re: California Burning [Re: hikermor]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4912
Loc: SOCAL
Stone coated steel roof here. But if either neighbor’s house catches fire, all bets are off.

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#286772 - 10/16/17 03:23 PM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
these problems with fire risks will get a lot of discussion in my local community. we emerged unscathed - thank heaven. but we most certainly have a prevalent fire hazard, and there is no easy way to mitigate it.

what is particularly a problem - the situation where cell phone towers burn down, and old people are trapped in their homes. that is also a very plausible scenario where I live. we will really have to do some thinking - to figure out a "community solution" for this problem.

the big driver for fire risks in many rural areas of CA, including mine, is that there are large tracts of vacant land. that land is overgrown by tall dead grass - dead because of several years of droughts. but no-one wants to pay to clean the land. so there are "no easy answers".

just the same ... there are a lot of communities in CA that are 'sitting ducks' for this type of fire problem in the future.

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#286777 - 10/16/17 06:34 PM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
LesSnyder Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1534
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
re: old people trapped...is this a transportation problem where they may not drive, or one of awareness of the threat?

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#286779 - 10/16/17 08:05 PM Re: California Burning [Re: LesSnyder]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6576
Loc: southern Cal
How about for answer to your question, "Both of the above"?

A lot of problems come your way with increasing age (just ask me how I know) and lack of mobility and a lack of general awareness are right up there as common occurrences. In many cases apparently the alarm came during the night, which poses additional obstacles....
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Geezer in Chief

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#286780 - 10/16/17 08:59 PM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
yes, as Geezer in Chief said ... really a "worst-case set of circumstances".

A fire that was moving very fast, sweeping through hills and valleys, burning homes in the middle of the night, and taking down cell phone towers quickly.

The authorities did send specific warnings to areas by text and social media. But some people did not receive them. At least one old couple did send messages asking for evacuation - but no-one could get to their neighborhood. I think a lot of people were surprised in the middle of the night ... no time to do anything except to jump in a car and flee. Those that did not have a car available ... the options for survival were few.

It's a pretty horrible set of circumstances.
And as I said above ... could just as easily happen in the location where I live. With the same end results.


Edited by Pete (10/16/17 09:01 PM)

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#286784 - 10/17/17 02:47 AM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
LesSnyder Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1534
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
are weather alert radios using SAME specific locale type warnings (162mHz range)able to be received in the mountainous regions?, and do counties declare emergency evacuations over reverse 911 calls on land line phone systems?

it is hard to believe that there is not 24hour continuous local warnings available on media that is not dependent on cell service...do land line phone systems still exist in these areas?

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#286793 - 10/17/17 11:30 PM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
Les - a very legitimate question.

First, I am an example of a person who lives in a rural CA community and I don't have a landline. I suspect that many others nearby are similar. Why pay the extra cost? I think now that people will have to re-consider this ... in light of what happened. I will need to re-consider also.

I will be discussing - with the others in my community - how do we get a better and more reliable system of communication operating? If phones don't work ... the only alternative is for "emergency contacters" to literally drive door-to-door. That might be what we have to do. it's the kind of thing that needs discussion and organization.

This fire tragedy has really hit on a weakness of our society - we have become very dependent on cell phone technology and autos, and our social relationships have become very fractured. Part of the reason why people don't know their own neighbors - is because we all have Internet social contacts ... but those people are far away. We have "gone global, and lost local".

Communities need to think about these things.

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#286800 - 10/18/17 03:42 AM Re: California Burning [Re: Pete]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4912
Loc: SOCAL
I’m thinking keep it simple and remembering the air-raid sirens of WWII London. Very loud, wake-you-up loud. No landline, no cell tower, just a lot of noise. Wake-up, call a number on any phone to hear the pre-recorded message, or tune into a local news station. Whatever it takes to get people’s attention and get them started heading in the right direction.

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#286801 - 10/18/17 05:03 AM Re: California Burning [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
Russ - an excellent suggestion and affordable.
I will bring up that option with the homeowners in our community.

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