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#288588 - 04/01/18 07:40 PM Re: Lessons from the North Bay Fires [Re: WesleyH]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1113
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: WesleyH
The question was posited, why can't the power in the area be shut down. . Interesting point. More likely, out the lines underground.

I suspect shutting down the power lines is one of those ideas that sounds better in theory than it would be in actual practice.

To be effective, you would need shut down the grid every time high winds are predicted, and keep it shut down till the winds subside. But in effect, that would mean shutting down much of daily life for a huge area and population. The electric grid powers hospitals, traffic signals, home medical equipment, cash machines, refrigeration and freezers at your local supermarket, gas pumps at your local service station.......the list goes on and on.

Given the extent of the grid, putting all those lines underground would be hugely expensive, and possibly technically impractical.

A better solution might be selective upgrades and preventative maintanece, in areas where fires are most likely to be started by the lines. Simply keeping brush and undergrowth cut back along the lines might go a long way. Or raising the lines higher above the ground in places such as ridge tops where winds might be expecially intense.

As hikermor has noted, fires and earthquakes are just part of life in Socal. Kind of like tornadoes in Oklahoma.
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"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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#288589 - 04/01/18 08:05 PM Re: Lessons from the North Bay Fires [Re: AKSAR]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6588
Loc: southern Cal
http://vcfd.org/images/prevention/Brochures/VCFD_Fire_Hazard_Reduction_Brochure_final_2017.pdf

"Defensible space" is an important concept in minimizing fire losses and enforcement of this concept has minimized fire losses in the past in Ventura County. Unfortunately, even a six lane highway has proven an inadequate fire break when Santa Ana winds are romping. During the Thomas fire, sustained winds were 40 mph, with higher gusts.

I am reminded of a comment made during my first season of fire fighting, the summer of 1957, in Southern Arizona - "the most dangerous fires to fight are those in California chaparral." how true, how true.
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#288605 - 04/02/18 09:43 PM Re: Lessons from the North Bay Fires [Re: hikermor]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1113
Loc: Alaska
More on steps to prevent power lines from starting fires:

Facing Blame for Fires, Utility Plans 24/7 Prediction and Response Center in California

Apparently the utilities do, in some cases, shut off power to whole towns to prevent wildfires:

PG&E may shut off power lines to prevent fires in this weekend’s wind storm
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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#288611 - 04/03/18 01:33 AM Re: Lessons from the North Bay Fires [Re: AKSAR]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6588
Loc: southern Cal
Originally Posted By: AKSAR
Originally Posted By: WesleyH
The question was posited, why can't the power in the area be shut down. . Interesting point. More likely, out the lines underground.



To be effective, you would need shut down the grid every time high winds are predicted, and keep it shut down till the winds subside. But in effect, that would mean shutting down much of daily life for a huge area and population. The electric grid powers hospitals, traffic signals, home medical equipment, cash machines, refrigeration and freezers at your local supermarket, gas pumps at your local service station.......the list goes on and on.



Just a side note from our experience during the Thomas Fire of December last year. Our area lost power a couple of hours before the fire reached our neighborhood; we left our home with all power shut off over the entire city. Easily the most dangerous part of our experience during the entire fire experience was driving on streets with no functioning traffic signals or area lighting, to say nothing of functioning gas stations or ATM's. Fortunately we only had to drive about five miles on roads we both know well; even at that, there were moments of confusion.

Our practice is to fill up the gas tanks when they become half empty; I recommend that heartily.
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Geezer in Chief

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#288619 - 04/03/18 10:29 PM Re: Lessons from the North Bay Fires [Re: chaosmagnet]
acropolis5 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 06/18/06
Posts: 344
Choasmaget et others: Have a bit of a care as to opposing all government supported flood insurance subsization . The bulk of such insurance covers lower middle class to poor folks homes, who would have no affordable home, but for their existing ones. Think the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans and innumerable homes in flood plains in Appalachia. An alternate to zero subsidization is a limit ion policy value. Thus, payoffs to poorer folks with low value homes could be maintained.

The California problem and also in Florida and other places too, is the building and rebuilding ( after destruction) of new HIGH VALUE homes in known wildfire and coastal flood zones. This situation could also be met by mandating much lower policy coverage limits in such zones, coupled with high premiums. An alternative is expensive full coverage insurance with a no rebuild clause, mandating escheat to the state after pay-off and high premiums. Lastly, in some coastal areas, insurance companies have outright refused to issue new policies after one pay-off and a refusedto cover new construction for new buyers.

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#288623 - 04/04/18 04:10 AM Re: Lessons from the North Bay Fires [Re: Michael2]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2155
Loc: Great Plains
Maybe we don't need to get rid of ALL subsidized flood insurance but most of it should go IMO. It's putting many lives at risk. There's one home that has been destroyed and rebuilt 35 times (!) by floor insurance- that is insane! And while many poor folks rely on it there are many wealthy people that abuse it.

Long and short- it encourages building in flood plains. That isn't a good thing. As the global climate shifts we're going to see increasingly extreme weather, and as sea levels rise there are places that humans simply won't be able to inhabit any longer. Instead of pouring tax money into holding back the ocean with a broom we need to relocate people to higher ground.

New Orleans should probably be abandoned. Yes, it's a wonderful city. Yes, it has fascinating history. And yes, French engineers warned that the site was unsuitable for a city before it was even built. They were correct then and it's far worse now.
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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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#288624 - 04/04/18 01:13 PM Re: Lessons from the North Bay Fires [Re: Phaedrus]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6588
Loc: southern Cal
35 times??!!That, indeed, is insane...My rule #1, when looking for a home, is stay out of the 100 year flood plain.
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Geezer in Chief

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#288625 - 04/05/18 12:23 AM Re: Lessons from the North Bay Fires [Re: Phaedrus]
chaosmagnet Online   content
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2948
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Phaedrus
New Orleans should probably be abandoned. Yes, it's a wonderful city. Yes, it has fascinating history. And yes, French engineers warned that the site was unsuitable for a city before it was even built. They were correct then and it's far worse now.


I'm not as well-versed in New Orleans flood protection as I might be. Here's my take: If the existing situation is supportable by property owners shouldering the full risk of flood (either by assuming the risk themselves, mitigating the risk, or re-assigning the risk by buying insurance out of their own pockets) rock on.

I'd be comfortable with New Orleans having tax-supported flood mitigation, as long as the people of New Orleans pay the bill through a democratic process.

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