Patterico's Pontifications


On Second Thought, Here’s Better Advice: Just Never, Ever Listen to a Single Word We Say

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:33 am

An L.A. Times correction states:

Fire protection: An article in Wednesday’s Section A about preparing for a fire evacuation advised leaving lawn sprinklers on and using a garden hose to wet the roof or the area around your house. In fact, sprinklers should be turned off to preserve water for firefighters, and wetting a roof or area around your house is not effective in Santa Ana winds, fire experts say.


10 Responses to “On Second Thought, Here’s Better Advice: Just Never, Ever Listen to a Single Word We Say”

  1. I’ll bet if they checked their own archives about Santa Ana wind driven fire events they’d find quotes from firefighters saying the same thing.
    Every time.

    I could see leaving the lawn sprinklers on if I was trapped in the flames and had to lay down to survive.
    I’ve been caught in a fire before. 106 degrees, 60MPH winds. Started by a kid flying a kite with his girlfriend that got wrapped in the power lines.
    I run up canyon to help the neighbors pack their stuff and hose stuff down while they flee.
    Firefighters start rolling up their stuff to get out even though they got there just minutes before.
    A phoschek bomber does a drop right on us, I duck under the eaves but everyone caught in the open was flattened.
    So I run like a scared deer down through the narrow foot trail that goes to a fire road and then 1/2 mile back to my dad’s house with spot fires chasing me.
    I get to another neighbors home and they are trying to start their pool fire pump (which should be run 3-4 times a year, new fuel etc.. and particularly right before a predicted event)
    I’m trying to help them with that when the flames jump out of the canyon and set a pine tree behind us on fire and it starts raining burning needles. So I run to my dad’s place and he is on the roof with the hose. Firefighters have left to defend town. We all had wood shake roofs and they are little fires on top of all the homes around us so I just start clmbing up on the rooofs and dousing them. But spraying is useless as the water just blows away in steam or mist.
    The end of it was I had my hair catch on fire from embers, my eyebrows singed and had to lay down on a lawn with the hose running on me. My dad wrapped himself in wet towels and a running hose and did the same at another place.
    The fire blew over us and no one lost their home although some had a lot of roof damage.
    I would NEVER do that again.
    We should have died.
    When the professionals haul ass out of your neighborhood it is beyond time to have gone. Leaving the water on for any reason but personal survival would maybe feel good, but it’d be useless.
    Actually I would use the sprinklers even to survive… the wind and heat just sweep the water up into the smoke.

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  2. Odd. The houses with roof mounted sprinklers were in fact some of the only ones that survived the fires.

    And several were saved by people who stood on their roofs and watered down their property. In fact many were saved that way.

    By the way….it still stinks of smoke here.

    Jenn (e877f5)

  3. Why is it the newspaper’s business to be putting out instructions on how to protect your house from a fire? Their job is to report on the fire. Last I checked the Fire Department was there to fight fires and tell us how to prevent them and stuff. If the firemen give them a list of things to do and say “make a story out of this please” that’s fine but I bet that the Dog Trainers decided to just sit around and think of what they’d do if fire was approaching their house – “What would you do?” “Ah, ummm, I’d water my house down! Yeah! Put that in. See Jim, we didn’t need to call the fire chief and get his comment after all.”

    chaos (9c54c6)

  4. A good friend of mine has a home way up on a ridge in the brush…. it’s a two level wood structure with decks, stairs on both levels.
    He’s got his 300 foot brush clearances, 20,000 gallons of water storage in underground tanks, the pool is hooked up to his system too.
    He has a diesel generator hooked up to his pump system. The fuel is stored underground.
    His rooftop/deck sprinkler system is triggered by heat sensors down canyon and it mixes Barricade fire retardant foam into the system.
    My two cents is that that house will still burn… all it takes is a small area on the windward side to be missed and the embers pile up like snowdrifts anyway so one square foot of wood left uncovered would probably result in the place burning from the inside out.

    Anyone who still has a wood shake roof in Southern California is asking for trouble, but roof top systems do indeed help with those… as I wrote before, I have personal experience with that.
    After the fire my dad and I fought through, his insurance threatened to cancel him unless he replaced the wood shake roof which he did… wood shakes are illegal on new dwellings or on reroofing projects. Insurers won’t cover homes with them. Asphalt composites can’t be used in certain zones.
    Most stucco and tile roof homes can withstand normal fire conditions. Where they fail is when embers bank up against wooden doors or windows. Or the owner plant junipers and italian cypress under their and have wooden fence and plastic trash cans and garden tool structures under eaves, or embers bank up under roof lines and find even the smallest hole.
    Or people get in a hurry and forget to close the doors and windows
    Finally, roof sprinklers are a good idea except if every one of a thousand homes had them, there’d be no water left in the hydrants.

    One of the other absolutely dumb pieces of advice I heard on TV was to leave the garage door open until you leave…
    My neighbors did this. They packed their El Camino aimed out with all the stuff they cared about. Embers blew into the garage when the main body of the fire was still a half mile away.
    The house did not burn, but the garage, the El Camino and all their important stuff burned… nicest people in the world too.
    Best thing about the whole episode for me was the food at firefighting camp. We’d got cut off. No gas, no power, if you left you couldn’t get back in, so I walked a few miles to the base camp got invited to eat lunch with the guys running the convict crews. Two nice steaks…

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  5. Pro-fire bias, rearing its head in the LAT yet again!

    Factchecker (345a4a)

  6. ” The fire blew over us and no one lost their home although some had a lot of roof damage.
    I would NEVER do that again. ”
    From the read it appears you would do it again. Noone lost their home. Unlikely if you hadn’t been dousing away.
    I’m not sure I can stand someone telling me about their neighborhood bravery, their success, then implying noone else should do the same.
    The professionals leave because it ain’t their home.
    If we keep going down the path of someone else has to take care of it, and a private citizen is a fool to even try… consult some yellowjacketed government paid expert fleeing for a juicy steak with ex-cons, or some babbling dogoody in libprint, we will soon be the sheeple permanently.
    Good for you staying around, and I’m more than certain you’d do it again, no matter what you say now.
    A million people evacuated, and a total of 1800 structures burned,
    At some point in time, somebody with some sense will point it out. Of course in this society, breathing love upon unknown others while screeching one life is more important than anything in the world, is standard, except when it comes to 1.5 million aborted babies every year.
    Whatever. Fire, water, 3rd grade.

    SiliconDoc (da9276)

  7. Another fire story related by a friend.
    A couple packed their SUV with all their special treasures and took off to the designated and controlled route, to evade death and total destruction, as commanded by the powers that be and all the people said to have a lick of sense, know what Santa Anna winds are, have a clue what fire is beyond caveman lore, and desire not be branded idiots or God forbid, be in the way of the shiney red fire trucks that will run you over screaming to their next assualt head.
    Well, the SUV got blocked in traffic on the road out some miles from the fleeing point. The formerly happy couple dove out as the flames swept their SUV and their happy memories into flying and exploding cinders.
    They went home, and upon arriving found their house untouched.
    Sometimes chicken little is not the bird of a feather one should flock together with.

    SiliconDoc (da9276)

  8. I heard another story from the same fire I alluded to earlier where a couple had some stuff in their truck and they pulled up to their sons house to help him evacuate. The story goes that as they were running back and forth loading the truck, some embers from burning eucalyptus trees (which are neat because the big peels of bark catch on fire and blow forever and the oils inside get superheated and the trees explode… why they are allowed in fire prone areas I will never know) but anyway the embers evidently flew into the truck bed and burned everything.
    I don’t know if this happened, but it surely could.
    Urban legend or not, the story illustrates the importance of leaving as early as possible and not dicking around.

    If I get to heaven, I really want to know why so many people live through natural disasters in California… in spite of themselves.
    Seriously. I read about the few deaths and am sad for the families and for the loss of a life ended too soon… and then I wonder why the heck weren’t there so many more. Doofus’ like myself using a friggin water hose with less pressure than a bidet to fight a fire that professionals had abandoned.
    You see us on every news story… little hose nozzle against 50 foot walls of flames on all sides. Firefighters are leaving, news crew is getting one last shot and interview of some idiot who vows to leave only in an ambulance… but rarely do we see the ambulance. We just see that parting shot of the mist from the spray nozzle heading off downwind and away from the flames at 50MPH while some knucklehead like me who can’t figure out the equation (wind blows water away from flame in Santa Ana + dryness and heat render feeble moisture useless) keeps spritzing away ineffectively… but hey it felt good…
    Then I see the illegals who died, caught in the brush and the wind and fire. Again, I am shocked there weren’t more.

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  9. #2 Thanks for telling the truth, mostly. Can anyone tell me how many hones were in danger, since last I heard 1800 “structures” burned, presumably most but not all homes.
    CA HAD WHAT, 1 MILLION homes in “the potential burn up zone”…
    Of course, we have nearly all our “heroes” claiming their actions amounted to spitting in the wind, but then in this thread we hear also ” no home was lost”.
    So I have one of two conclusions. The firefighters left because no home was in danger ( despite a garage attachment burning down ) or the story about water flying away to the ether is overdone. “Steam” – a word used – means water struck very hot surface and cooled it, boiling off.
    I guess the story is the “humble ineffective hero” covering his “I don’t want to tell someone else how to get themselves killed” anti- lawsuit scenario. I can imagine the lawyers here gasping if the wrong “idea” is printed.
    Jenna, can’t we just agree to agree with the “experts” that no persons except sanctioned Federal and State licensed and patrolling and controlling official “firefighters” effectively fought or tamped down any losses ?
    I mean what the heck is wrong with you and me, don’t we know trained professionals with the power of the government backing them are the only ones who can do anything correctly ?
    (*gagging badly)
    Last time I put out a fire (after a first failed attempt) I saved the whole home. I know, should have fled and called in the professionals, what a fool I was for not dialing 911 and fleeing for my life…
    I guess we have to claim noone saved their home. This is a GOVERNMENT business, saving the people, and by no means are the sheeple ever effective, and they don’t know what they’re doing, and it’s amazing there are scores of dead people, so stupid are “We The People”.
    I just love the know it all modern society.

    SiliconDoc (da9276)

  10. Ironically, wood shake roofing is the best to have on a house in a fire. 95% of all fires start inside, and wood shake is on open sheeting that will allow the roof to vent the fire even before the fire department arrives. As far as wood today in CA, all new roofs in wood shake since 1/1/2000 have a fire retardant pressure treated into the wood that will last the life of the roof, about 40 years. That’s reliable info, because it was tested in the weather for ten years according to the UL-790 (that’s Underwriters’ Laboratories) ten year weathering test. According to Phil Favro, the former State Fire Marshal, wood is class A just like asphalt shingle or cement tile. If I were you, I would put on a wood shake roof. They don’t use them on new homes now because they cost too much.

    Jim Scott (9ba7cc)

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