Patterico's Pontifications


Fires in Southern California

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:25 am

The L.A. Times reports: Catastrophic fires blaze a path of destruction through the Southland.

In a swiftly moving catastrophe that seemed as familiar as it was shocking, Southern California once again was besieged by flame Saturday, from Orange County to Santa Barbara, with hundreds of homes consumed by three major wind-driven fires, including one of the most devastating blazes ever to strike the city of Los Angeles.

The paper reports that, miraculously, there has been no loss of life.

Our little fire here in Rancho Palos Verdes was put out yesterday and turned out not to be an issue. Fires in Sylmar, Yorba Linda, and Corona added to the destruction of the Santa Barbara/Montecito fire further north, and sent a cloud of ash and smoke across the L.A. basin.

Yesterday Mrs. P. was at the grocery store and ash was falling from the sky like snow.

I made the mistake of falling asleep with the windows open. I woke up at 1 a.m. with the smell of smoke permeating the bedroom. It smelled exactly like we were one campsite down from a large campfire, and the wind had shifted to blow the smoke from that fire into our campsite.

I know a lot of readers of this site come from Southern California. I hope all is well with you.

27 Responses to “Fires in Southern California”

  1. My parents were about a half-mile from the Montecito fire, and two houses away from being evacuated. They had their stuff packed, but the house and ‘rents are fine.


    JRM (355c21)

  2. Ok, that was strange, my last comment went into the bit bucket.

    JRM, that is very good news.

    Darleen (187edc)

  3. Sean P (from other thread)

    My parents live northwest of CSF … a couple of blocks north of Whittier along N. Puente, only about 4 blocks from where it turns into LA county and is square miles of undeveloped land … mostly owned by the oil companies in that area.

    I talked with them several times yesterday and it was very smokey and lots of ash. My dad was also talking about the rather wild area that is burning along Tonner Canyon that has been under great controversy between developers and people who think it is stupid to put houses in that area.

    Darleen (187edc)

  4. As a former So-Cal native (retired from the Navy and living up in Vancouver, WA), I hope that none of the regular visitors to this site are affected by the fires…

    I was a volunteer firefighter for OC years ago, when I was in college…fought one brush fire that summer. It’s a lot of hard work being on a hand crew in 90+ degree weather fighting a brush fire. The firefighters on the line now are putting there lives out there and usually not acknowledged for what they do. If you do get a chance – thank them for what they do. They do a hard and dangerous job as anyone else in the military or who wears a uniform and protects us.

    fmfnavydoc (9846b2)

  5. fmfnavydoc

    Thank you for your service, both in the Navy and as a firefighter.

    I’m watching live coverage on the fire right now … a few minutes ago they were showing neighbors in the Chino Hills area taking breakfast to the firefighters in their area.

    Darleen (187edc)

  6. Considering that the Monticito fire started Thursday night, Why didn’t Bratton or Tony Vilar order roving patrols on Friday night after sundown? It didn’t take a Rocket scientist to figure there was going to be fires Friday night. There are thousands of volunteers sitting there waiting to be asked to do patrol jobs like this. Tony Vilar was probably out looking for some strange. Bratton has probably decided he can’t or won’t enforce arson laws.

    bravo juliet (12747e)

  7. bravo juliet

    Um, it is SOP in red flag situations that all fire personnel are on hand and crews ARE set out in Charlie spots for rapid response.

    Darleen (187edc)

  8. This is all too reminiscent of a time that was one of those “best of, worst of” moments.
    In 1978, I moved into a newly built town-home in Yorba Linda (my one and only new home). A few weeks later I looked out the windows of a restaurant in Brea that I was managing, and saw flames in the hills to the NE of Yorba Linda. The next day I watched from the street in front of my home as the fire slowly marched down the hill to be stopped less than a quarter-mile away at the park north of the development (no more dry grass to burn) by the local fire crew.
    According to the news reports this morning, the voluntary evac area started at that same street for this fire.
    At that time, Fairmont was the eastern end of development in Yorba Linda. Now, everything to the east is very expensive real-estate going into 7-figures.
    The Dollar losses could be substantial – the emotional losses are uncountable.

    Another Drew (91c7e4)

  9. Comment by bravo juliet — 11/16/2008 @ 8:29 am

    Your disdain for Tony-V and the Chief are shared by many of their constituents.
    Tony-V is the Angeleno equivalent of Chuckie Schumer –
    you stand between them and a TV camera at your own peril.

    Another Drew (91c7e4)

  10. Another Drew

    If you don’t mind me asking, which restaurant?

    Darleen (187edc)

  11. Comment by Darleen — 11/16/2008 @ 8:56 am

    The CoCo’s on Imperial Hwy @ the 57!
    Had a great view out the front windows of the hills stretching all the way to Chino.

    Another Drew (91c7e4)

  12. Another Drew

    Wow, I’ve eaten there many times! (my family moved to Brea in 1968 .. I graduated Sonora High in 1972)

    I don’t think too many people will be hanging at Brea Mall today.

    Darleen (187edc)

  13. Comment by Darleen — 11/16/2008 @ 9:03 am
    Probably not.
    I usually do a 10K bike ride this AM to get the morning paper, but instead, I’ll just go hose everything down to get rid of the ash, and drive down to the newsrack to save my lungpower.

    Another Drew (91c7e4)

  14. Those suckers have been burning since yesterday. Everywhere, in fact:

    Helo (7198c5)

  15. No loss of life? That is amazing. I know last night they were afraid some of the seniors didn’t make it out of the mobile home park.

    The firefighters are absolutely amazing. They are fantastically skilled professionals.

    I’m pretty sure they send out patrolling helicopters whenever there are red flag warnings. They fly over my house.

    MayBee (d8edb1)

  16. I used to live in PV and would go sailing near Malibu when the yearly fires would strike. You can sail quite close to the shore and get a far better view and understanding of what is happening than the hyperventilating news folks will ever give you.

    Now I’m in Colorado and miss the ocean greatly but you can keep the Santa Ana’s.

    BeachBumBill (f095c1)

  17. MayBee

    The mobile home park has been declared a crime scene. I’m hoping no human remains are found.

    Looters from Los Angeles were caught red handed this morning in Chino Hills, brazenly taking property out of a house and stacking it on the driveway before loading it into an SUV … the owner just happened on them and kept them from leaving until the police got there.

    I know 5 looters were arrested in the SFV area yesterday.

    I cannot tell you the depth of contempt and hate I hold for looters. I think they should be summarily shot.

    Darleen (187edc)

  18. Brea fire has moved up into the Diamond Bar area.

    Gov Arnold is now holding a press conference at Hansen Dam.

    Darleen (187edc)

  19. My empathies for all those who had to evacuate, or worse, had their homes burned. I saw it all up close and personal in last year’s San Diego fires. I was fortunate since the burn stopped a few hundred yards from my condo in Rancho Bernardo. I got a bird’s-eye view from a nearby hillside as the fire swept through our area. Amazing to see houses burning that were extremely far away from the actual flames. Almost every one was because of either a wood shingle roof or combustible vegetation near the structure. All ignited by embers blowing from distant brushfires.

    allan (0d6e4a)

  20. allan

    It was a little more than that. I was watching yesterday as new homes in Yorba Linda, with tile roofs, started burning.

    If the roof overhang (soffits)are not enclosed, it is a perfect area for embers to enter the attic. With the high winds, embers swirl rather then just fall on the roof and can get up under the eaves.

    Darleen (187edc)

  21. Darleen: I hope all is well with your family. My aunt & uncle live in Diamond Bar and evacuated their house earlier this morning. I heard that they stopped the fire from heading into DB, but I haven’t heard much on the radio about the Brea fire specifically. But, yeah, the ash is awful. Tell your folks to keep the AC or the heater running if they don’t have an air purifier, it seems to do a good job keeping the smell out of the house.

    I do know they’ve been calling the fire the “landfill fire” so I BELIEVE they are referring to the development that was built around Lambert & Valencia about 6 years ago over a landfill. That particular development in question has large methane vents due to the high content in the ground below the development.

    bravo juliet: I’m the last person to defend Villagarosa, but most of the fires that broke out yesterday were outside his jurisdiction. Palos Verdes, where Patterico lives, and the Brea/Diamond Bar/ Chino Hills/ Yorba Linda/ Corona fires (which collectively cover 4 COUNTIES) are all outside the LA city limits.

    Sean P (4e644b)

  22. Not near any fires, but the smoke is bad all over. I’m running the central a/c unit with just the fan, not the cooling so it’ll at least go through the intake filter.

    kbdabear (2697a0)

  23. LOTS of smoke here in Burbank, but nothing more. One of my brothers has been evacuated from his townhome in Yorba Linda. At least a couple of his friends have lost their houses.

    So far, no loss of life, which is a good thing.

    Steverino (db5760)

  24. Darleen, #21

    You don’t always need embers. If a nearby blaze gets to burning hot enough that alone will ignite a house. And with methane vents in the area, that adds fuel to the fire literally. The vented methane sparks off you’re going to have a very bad situation.


    So far things are cool down here. We are concerned about conditions up in LA, and hoping more fires don’t start up. Here temperatures are expected to drop down to 68 degrees, before inching back up again. But, fires do have a habit of breaking out most everywhere here.

    What we really need to do is is make brush country in southern California a feral cattle reserve. Wild cattle roam the countryside eating the vegetation as they did in the old days. One month a year cullers get to go on hunts to thin out the herds, the meat and hides sold at market to help pay for the program.

    Alan Kellogg (e4d258)

  25. Alan – You could have Sarah Palin thin the herds from a helicopter or small plane. The folks in California would love that!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  26. Is there any word on what started the fire? I always cringe when the AGW alarmists claim wildfires as a symptom of global warming. It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull, inticing ecoterrorists to break out their cigarette lighters.

    papertiger (0b0c9a)

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