December 14, 2017

"'This fire is a beast': Massive inferno keeps growing despite epic battle by firefighters."

The L.A. Times reports.
Across the mountain ridges above Santa Barbara, Summerland and Montecito, firefighters Wednesday were building containment lines, clearing brush, digging breaks and setting small backfires to burn fuel, all in an effort to create barriers to stop the forward march of the fire.

Conditions so far this week have been favorable, allowing firefighters to attack the flames on the southwestern flank of the blaze as it moves west toward the Santa Ynez Mountains.

But the National Weather Service was forecasting sundowner winds blowing southeast at up to 35 mph Friday night, followed by Santa Ana winds Saturday that, at up to 45 mph, could steer the fire toward the southwest.... As firefighters well know, sundowner winds are notoriously unpredictable....

53 comments:

gspencer said...

On the good side, once this fire is finally out, having consumed lots and lots, there'll years and years of being trouble-free, fire-wise. Provided forest management practices return to common sense.

Comanche Voter said...

Well Jerry Brown says its global warming; so that must be true. OTOH much of what is burning here in Southern and Central California is chaparral covered hillsides. And oddly enough that sort of plant community has been adapted for centuries to periodic severe fires. In fact in order to reproduce the vegetation you need very hot fires to crack the shell of the seeds produced by chaparral. Or so I was taught in my college biology classes some 50 years ago. So the Thomas fire (which is a very big one) is not the first rodeo for the vegetation in that area. I guess the chaparral didn't get the memo from Governor Moonbeam and adapted early.

Sebastian said...

Was it just the homeless sparking a conflagration?

Or is God trying to tell us that California was a mistake?

mockturtle said...

The worst wildfires appear to have occurred prior to 1935 but records are considered 'unreliable'. Anything 'significant' only occurred in the past decade. Climate changers can skew any data at any time and get away with it.

MadisonMan said...

Thank goodness GOES-16 is back now so that Satellite Views are better!!! Even though it's GOES-East, the views of California are awesome.

David said...

My wife grew up on a farm in Carpenteria, which is also threatened by this fire but not mentioned in dispatches because it is not as chi-chi as the other places. She has a number of childhood friends who stlll live in the area, and a several are firefighters. She has been getting some regular updates. Fighting the fire is hard, exhausting dangerous work.

Michael K said...

My son, who is on the fire line for the past week and who will be lucky to get home for Christmas, shared this on facebook.

THE WILDFIRE PROBLEM NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT! And no, Gov. Brown. Instead of blaming climate change which you can do little about, take another look at California regulatory policy... State and county law in California, pushed by activists and environmentalists, exert prohibitive limitations on controlled burns as a responsible way of land management and stewardship. And so we end up with out-of-control brush overgrowth and out-of-control mega fires. The Chumash Indians understood this and used controlled burns! But not our state officials. Furthermore, all that excess growth is sucking our ground water dry! So lets stop blaming climate change and start talking about misguided policy and regulation.

It is all true and the same problem created the great Yarnall Fire in Arizona that killed the 19 "Granite Mountain Hotshots.

The Forest Service resists any attempt to thin out the fuel that feeds these fires, Neither timber harvesting nor controlled burning are allowed.

Last year my former partner and I attended the 50th anniversary of the Los Angles Loop Fire that killed the 12 El Cariso Hotshots.

He and I cared for the 19 survivors that attended the memorial. We have learned a lot about treating burns and about fighting fires since then but the Forest Service has learned nothing. In fact, it resists learning just as Governor Moonbeam Brown resists learning.

Michael K said...

The links did not get copies if anyone is interested.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots.

El Cariso Hotshots.

The El Cariso Hotshots were the first big burn cases that were treated with silver nitrate. Without it, they would all have died. They spent months in the hospital and we learned a lot because no other burn cases that severe had survived.

mockturtle said...

Michael K, your son will be in my prayers and I hope he will be home safely for Christmas.

Michael K said...

Fortunately, he is an engineer and mostly supervises.

This is him at the fire last weekend

He is the one with the red helmet,

LarsPorsena said...

When you build a city below sea level (New Orleans) or build a city in a desert (LA)
stuff can happen.

mockturtle said...

When you build a city below sea level (New Orleans) or build a city in a desert (LA)
stuff can happen.


Or build a city on a fault zone, near a volcano, near the ocean or in tornado country. I guess NYC has only to be concerned about being attacked by terrorists in large commercial aircraft.

John Pearley Huffman said...

Here in Santa Barbara we're covered in ash, the sky has been brown and ugly for a week, and most everyone is wearing a some sort of filtration mask. I've lived here my entire life, and I've never seen anything even close to the environmental catastrophe this is. It makes the 1969 oil spill here look like someone knocking over a plate of beans.

The ecosystem of all Southern California is built to renew itself through periodic incineration. It's us human beings that are the unnatural elements in this situation. We don't allow the natural burning that our environment needs, nor do we do reasonable management of the brush through controlled burns. So we get this: unbreathable air in one of the best places on Earth.

Dang.

n.n said...

An evolutionary or chaotic process, which is unpredictable outside of a limited frame of reference (a.k.a. scientific logical domain).

Bruce Hayden said...

“Was it just the homeless sparking a conflagration”

That is one of the realities that is skipped over by Gov Moonbeam and the MSM, and shouldn’t be ignored - that one of the biggest fires was started by a fire in a homeless encampment, that apparently, maybe, had been left unattended. And, that such homeless encampments are, at least partially, the result of explicit CA (and LA) policies.

chickelit said...

My daughter is a freshman at UCSB. All of her finals this week were cancelled indefinitely. She already bailed out of campus to safer environs.

Bruce Hayden said...

“The Forest Service resists any attempt to thin out the fuel that feeds these fires, Neither timber harvesting nor controlled burning are allowed.”

In fairness, the FS knows that this is a problem, but they have been constrained by environmental activists vistsvin the area for decades. Better than 30 years ago, I worked at a shared USDA and FS facility as a contractor. One of the guys we worked with had come over from the FS, where he had been an expert in this area. I think that it was the Yelliwstone Fire where he pointed out that the big problem was that they had most of a century of fuel on the ground, thanks to the FS an USPS suppressing fires in those area for that long.

That all said, I have some information that this may be changing. Talked with a good friend of Interior Sec Zinke while our fires were so bad last summer in MT. He assured me that Zinke knew of these issues, esp that timber harvesting is needed to minimize the severity of the fires that we see, having come from MT. And, in response to my question, he assured me that Zinke was leaning on Ag Sec Purdue, pointing out that much of pour problems were the result of the great reduction of timber sales by the FS (which, of course, reports to the Ag Secretary).

buwaya said...

If the fire hadnt been sparked by something this year (before the first rains), then it would have been sparked by something else next year, and been even worse. The fuel on the ground is not just a fire risk, but a fire certainty.

The "causes" of a wild fire are in the end irrelevant, because they are inevitable. Yes, someone usually screws up and starts one, or some random but systematic failure does.

MadisonMan said...

So lets stop blaming climate change and start talking about misguided policy and regulation.

I will simply point out that all those regulations are changing the climate of the locations that are burning now -- because the surface conditions have been altered.

I know that's not what Gov. Moonbeam means. But that's my view of the matter. Changing land use is a very easy way to change the climate.

mockturtle said...

If the fire hadnt been sparked by something this year (before the first rains), then it would have been sparked by something else next year, and been even worse. The fuel on the ground is not just a fire risk, but a fire certainty.

That's correct. In the Northwest we have a lot of forest fires, most of which are started by lightning. This is actually nature's way of cleaning out forests. There are even some species of pine that can only reproduce [their cones open] after a fire. The problem is that people have begun to inhabit areas where fires used to burn unabated. The fires leave an ugly mess but the forests do regrow healthier.

Selective logging and controlled burns are a necessary part of today's forest management but it's hard on the people living in the affected areas.

exiledonmainstreet said...

it's rare, mockturtle, but hurricanes have hit Manhattan. just about every area in the U.S. Has some sort of natural disadvantage or recurring threat, whether it is wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornados, volcanos, or extreme heat, humidity or cold. I worry from time to time about tornados, although they are not nearly the threat here that they are in Kansa or Oklahoma. but I do freeze much of the year so there's that. Mt. Saint Helens notwithstanding I think you Pacific Northwesterners are pretty blessed, but constant rain and fog must get pretty gloomy too.

JaimeRoberto said...

I bet the state of California wishes it hadn't chased out my brother-in-law with his brush clearing business with its ever stricter emissions regulations on his machinery.

EDH said...

Comanche Voter said...
...much of what is burning here in Southern and Central California is chaparral covered hillsides.

Combined with all the cannabis cultivation, what do you get?

The High Chaperral.

John Scott said...

For Santa Barbara the sun downer winds have a chance to be more devastating than the Santa Anas. Because of the orientation of the Santa Ynez range Santa Barbara stays relatively calm during a Santa Ana event.

The Skirball fire in LA started at an homeless encampment. They think the Thomas fire was caused by a downed powerline.

If anyone is interested here is a video of a hang gliding flight I made a few years ago. The flight started in Santa Barbara and ended in Santa Clarita. The camera's battery died just as I was entering the Ojai Valley. I was heading east the Thomas fire is now heading west. If the flight happened today I would reach the fire at about the 2 minute mark in the video. Everything east of that point has burned. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=glIPWbak9Jc

reader said...

Once they manage to get a handle on these fires everyone will have to prepare for mudslides.

mockturtle said...

Exiled comments: I think you Pacific Northwesterners are pretty blessed, but constant rain and fog must get pretty gloomy too.

Which is one reason I moved to AZ.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Mock, AZ is probably where I will end up in my golden years. I'll have to worry about rattlesnakes and scorpions though!

mockturtle said...

Mock, AZ is probably where I will end up in my golden years. I'll have to worry about rattlesnakes and scorpions though!

You don't really have to worry about them, just watch out for them. If you live in a metro area you probably won't have them at all.

Michael K said...

I was walking Juliet, my basset hound, the other afternoon and we saw some javalinas crossing the street. They come out in daytime only in winter. Speaking of local hazards, these were bigger than I thought they would be. The size of domestic pigs,

I keep her on a leash worrying about snakes. The local vets has snake avoidance classes for dogs.

Big Mike said...

I've been to Tucson, Mesa, and Tempe on business trips and technical conferences, and to the Grand Canyon on vacation. Strikes me on my limited experience that northern Arizona is a very different climate and ecosystem from Tucson and Phoenix.

I also spent part of a week at Fort Huachuca in the far south of Arizona on business. On the way out the door to the airport I realized that I had forgotten my umbrella, then I said to myself that it never rains at Fort Huachuca. Can you guess what it did while I was out there?

Oso Negro said...

I see your hair is burning
Hills are filled with fire
If they say I never loved you
You know they are a liar

buwaya said...

I am trying to persuade my wife to end up here -

Malaga Spain

She is working on her Spanish, the good girl.

Michael K said...

Cal Fire lost their first fireman in the Thomas fire today,

My son is OK.

Michael K said...

Pimlott said the victim was a Cal Fire engineer from the San Diego unit. Details about the firefighter’s death were not immediately available.

“IMT 4, CAL FIRE Local 2881 and Southern Region leadership are working to support the Unit and his family, who have been notified,” Pimlott said.


Yikes ! Engineers are supposed to behind the guys on the line. Trucks have been caught in flareups.

Michael K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

Strikes me on my limited experience that northern Arizona is a very different climate and ecosystem from Tucson and Phoenix.

Tucson is higher than Phoenix and less hot in summer, colder in winter.

We drove down to Sonoita Sunday which is another 2000 feet higher than Tucson.

Friends of mine have a ranch just south of there and it snows all the time in winter.

We live in the Catalina foothills, which is higher than central Tucson but still pretty hot in summer.

Michael K said...

More weirdness from Blogger.

Robert Cook said...

mockturtle said:

"I guess NYC has only to be concerned about being attacked by terrorists in large commercial aircraft."

Not anymore, we don't!

However, come a rise in sea levels, NYC will be the new Atlantis, (or one of the new Atlantises)!

tcrosse said...

However, come a rise in sea levels, NYC will be the new Atlantis, (or one of the new Atlantises)!

That prospect hasn't effected property values.

Michael K said...

Cookie, you just keep watching for the rise in sea level. Come the next ice age you are gonna be happy as it falls 20 feet,

mockturtle said...

Cookie, you can just move down here to Arizona. You'll have only the heat to contend with. ;-)

mockturtle said...

We live in the Catalina foothills, which is higher than central Tucson but still pretty hot in summer.

My husband and I have hiked in the Catalinas. Beautiful country, especially in early spring when the cacti bloom. The foothills are the prettiest part of the Tucson area, IMO.

mockturtle said...

Late husband. :-(

Michael K said...

Wonderful area. Oro Valley is the area everybody hears about but we like the proximity to restaurants and shops and even downtown.

We are busy planting stuff to bloom after the rains.

Gahrie said...

However, come a rise in sea levels, NYC will be the new Atlantis,

There's a reason he's called Comrade Marvin.....

buwaya said...

"NYC will be the new Atlantis, "

And just how cool is that?

You all will look like this -

Atlanteans

buwaya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
buwaya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

"NYC will be the new Atlantis, "

And just how cool is that?

You all will look like this -

Atlanteans


Cookie will need a new avatar.

Michael K said...

"
You all will look like this -

Atlanteans"

Where are the gills ?

Kevin Costner had them.

Big Mike said...

My son is OK.

Glad for that.

320Busdriver said...

I flew over Edwards AFB on Monday a little east of the fires. The smoke plumes were thick and high. On Tuesday we flew to LA from SFO right over the eastern edge of the fires, which looked to be more under control than the previous day. Got some good photos of the amazing work the tankers are doing laying down the bright red fire retardant. Bright red lines on the rocky terrain drawing perimeters around the blazes. At one point I watched a large red plume appear below us then dissipate from a plane I did not even see. They have been flying a B747 from Sacramento, sometimes 3 times a day into the area to drop 19,000 gallons of retardant in 10 minutes.

JML said...

Michael K., I disagree - the Forest Service here Northern New Mexico) tries to do as many controlled burns as they can, and often allow fires to burn if it is not threatening communities and it is beneficial to the forest or grasslands. They have learned some from their past mistakes of putting out fires as soon as they could.

320Busdriver, I know a former 130 Nav who flew forest fire slurry drops. He said they were the most violent and dangerous missions he was ever on.