Patterico's Pontifications


Western States On Fire

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:59 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Unbearable.. I am undone just reading about it:

Chris Tofte blew past the blockade, his green Jeep Cherokee aimed for the bowels of the raging Beachie Creek fire.

It was around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, and he was desperately searching for his wife, son and mother-in-law. The family lived 4½ miles up North Fork Road SE, about 10 minutes from Lyons and 30 minutes from Salem.

[I]n the Jeep, struggling to navigate a road once so familiar but now shrouded by smoke-filled darkness, Chris almost ran over what looked like a bikini-clad woman on the road. Once he was closer, he realized she was wearing underwear. Her hair was singed, her mouth looked almost black, and her bare feet were severely burned.

He impatiently tried to help her into his car, explaining how he needed to find his wife and son, feeling like she was resisting.

Finally, she spoke. “I am your wife.”

The ongoing fires in Oregon have burned more than one million acres.

California’s fires have burned 3,354,234 acres, or roughly more than 3% of the estimated 100 million acres of land in the state.

In the state of Washington, more than 500,000 acres have burned.

I have loved ones in both Oregon and Washington who are all keeping a wary eye out as the fires draw closer to them. My Oregon family sent photos this past week, and in every one of the dystopian-like images, the sky is nothing but a strange, burnt orange backdrop silhouetting the still-standing forest below. I swear you can almost feel the heavy thickness of the polluted air just by looking at the images. In much of California, the skies are a dull orange/gray and the smoke and falling ash make it unhealthful to be outside except for the briefest of trips.

Everyone can do something to help: Here you can read about the most effective ways to help those who have had to evacuate and/or have lost their homes in the fires. While the report specifically refers to California, the information is clearly applicable to Oregon and Washington as well. And of course, we are all able to offer prayers on behalf of so many, like Chris Tofte and his wife, whose very hearts and lives will never be the same again.


38 Responses to “Western States On Fire”

  1. Make sure to take the time to read the linked-to story in its entirety.

    Dana (292df6)

  2. I am infuriated. It wasn’t necessary or inevitable for this to happen. Along much of the western seaboard, this has been a direct consequence of all the years enviro-nuts have been setting forest management policy.

    Gryph (f63000)

  3. @2 Gryph, most of the forest out here is national forest land and it’s managed by the federal government. Of the last 20 years, 12 of them have been under Republican presidents. It isn’t “enviro-nuts”. Some years Colorado is burning down, sometimes it’s Utah, sometimes Arizona, or New Mexico. Washington, which probably has the highest percentage of “Enviro-nuts” mostly doesn’t burn down.

    Nic (896fdf)

  4. Supposedly this is because we were ignoring climate change (that is carbon emissions)

    According to A Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, nobody is actually saying that any more. I wonder.

    Finally, Wildfire Sanity?

    When houses are burning down, electric cars and solar panels don’t seem much of an answer.

    By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
    Sept. 11, 2020 4:41 pm ET

    Wow. Overnight, apparently there’s nobody who does not understand that climate policy is not an answer to California’s wildfire crisis….

    …But then why was California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s most quoted response to the fires “Never have I felt more of a sense of obligation . . . to face climate change head on”?

    …A bit of history: It’s been nearly 32 years since climate change became a mainstream political cause—I date the beginning to then-NASA scientist James Hansen’s public fight with the first Bush White House in 1989. In the decades that followed, as nature dictates, climate politics became institutionalized. Institutionalized means interest groups and business lobbies becoming self-sustaining based on the money that climate fears generate. A cynic might note that during this time the world’s greenhouse emissions rose more steeply than ever. Problems that become institutionalized aren’t solved. They become a multigenerational meal ticket by not being solved.

    And yet 32 years have taught us a few things. It was always implausible that the world’s politicians and electorates would require their economies to forgo the advantages of fossil fuels and so it has proved. But we also have discovered a lot about the likely track of future emissions. The world seems to be adhering to RCP 4.5, the second-lowest of the CO2 scenarios sketched by scientists. And not because of penny-ante handouts to solar panels and electric cars, but because of very large social and economic megatrends: urbanization, slower population growth, a shift to service- and digitally-based economies, advancing technology and a declining energy intensity of GDP. One example: Fracking led to a multiyear decline in U.S. greenhouse gas output. Last year, before the pandemic hit, global emissions would have been flat if not for China’s…

    ….Progress in politics is harder to come by, but I can point to some. In the past 24 months, it likely has become impossible for government and private agencies to continue peddling dire climate forecasts, as they have in recent years, based on an unrealistic, worst-case RCP 8.5 emissions scenario.

    A surprising thing has happened: Even greens have become embarrassed at the institutionalized dishonesty of such forecasts. (I cited a significant example in a column here in January.)

    If we can start being rational about fire-suppression policy, we can start being rational about climate change too…

    Sammy Finkelman (0e8c82)

  5. 3. It’s enviro-nuts in Commie-fornia. The enviro-nuts treat “wilderness” as if it’s something sacrosanct and won’t allow for proper clearing of forest detritus. Even if *most* of the fires are occuring on federal land, not all of them are. And California seems to have to deal with this sort of thing on a near-yearly basis anyway.

    And when you get right down to brass tacks, it’s not always arsonists or even careless campers starting these wildfires anyway. It can be a random lightning strike. Point is, the longer you wait in dealing effectively with forest management protocol, the worse it is when it happens — and it will happen sooner or later.

    AND…don’t even get me started on federal land policy (mis)management.

    Gryph (f63000)

  6. @3.Frankly, it’s surprising some ‘bad guys’ haven’t rigged up some “balloon devices” and just let them loose, helter-skelter, across the state to ignite chaos. No doubt the authorities are on the alert for such- we watch the skies regularly for anything unusual– and locally, homeowners have cleared away a lot of brush and trimmed trees and the authorities have cleared a great deal of brush away from along the roadsides to avoid a spark or cigarette ignition. Even BBQing is discouraged– especially w/Santa Anas whipping up.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  7. 6. I thought the Santa Ana was practically nonexistent this year. Unless that’s changed, but I’ve had people from out west telling me that winds have been overall mild since this tragedy started.

    Gryph (f63000)

  8. The story is heartvbreaking. I can’t get the image of the burned mother or the dead boy and his dog out of my head.

    DRJ (aede82)

  9. @5 Fires very rarely start in state parks and the state park service does quite a bit of land management to keep fire hazards down. And you are right, most of the time it isn’t arsonists or campers. For us, most of the time it’s either lightening or downed power-lines. And mostly on federal land.

    @7 We’ve had a couple of nasty wind days during the fires up here on the northernish end of CA (though in all fairness, a nasty wind day in CA is 15-20 mph which isn’t particularly terrible for you guys)

    Nic (896fdf)

  10. The last three out of four years, we’ve experienced a lot of smoke from the forest fires, more than we’d ever seen before. This year is the worst. We thought we were going to have a smoke-free year because this usually happens in August, but alas.
    We don’t typically get a lot of fires on the west side of the Cascades, but we had one in Graham, WA, which is a Tacoma suburb, and there’re some really bad ones in OR, also on the west side.

    Paul Montagu (9cf48a)

  11. 10,


    Dana (292df6)

  12. The grandmother’s remains were later found in the same car with Wyatt.

    It almost seems like he went back for her, doesn’t it?

    Patterico (115b1f)

  13. Yes, I also thought that. What a young hero. And that his dog remained with him to the end was also heartbreaking.

    It’s a hauntingly sad story that will stay with me for a long time.

    Dana (292df6)

  14. And I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for the mom to make the agonzizing decision to leave the grandmother behind.

    Dana (292df6)

  15. Controlled burning, thinning of dead/diseased trees and control of underbrush.

    Or….people dying and spending a billion to suppress preventable fires.

    harkin (cd4502)

  16. @17. 1968 redux: “Burn, baby, burn!” eh. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  17. “ .Frankly, it’s surprising some ‘bad guys’ haven’t rigged up some “balloon devices” and just let them loose,”

    It’s not without precedent:

    In 1945, a Japanese Balloon Bomb Killed Six Americans, Five of Them Children, in Oregon

    harkin (cd4502)

  18. @7.That would be news to the CA power companies. Wind blows; power goes out. Infrastructure neglect; Reaganomics. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  19. @19. Yes, well, was thinking more of some dudes in a Chevy pick-up w/a $25 helium party balloon set from Walmart getting creative.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  20. “ Dan Pfeiffer

    As the situation gets worse, GOP opposition to even modest climate action gets more entrenched. There is no evidence Republicans are coming around any time soon. If Democrats are truly serious about saving the planet, the filibuster must be eliminated.
    __ _

    I did not and will not vote for him. Calm down.
    “Democrat-Controlled State Burned Down By GOP“
    __ _

    harkin (cd4502)

  21. 20. It’s not infrastructure neglect. It’s the use of forms of electrical generation (solar and wind in particular) which are physically incapable of supporting a state-(or even a city-)level grid. Gutting all of your hydro, coal, and/or nuclear generation ability in favor of wind and solar is just *begging* for trouble.

    Gryph (f63000)

  22. @23. Except it is. Step away from the Kool-Aid. It’s infrastructure neglect aka: greed. A breeze shouldn’t bring down power lines. It does in California.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  23. Yes its criminal malfeasance where michael manns stupid hockey stick gets people killed

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  24. @24 Unfortunately true. I’ve never lived in a state where the powerlines were more likely to come down, and lord knows I’ve lived enough places.

    Nic (896fdf)

  25. 24. But it doesn’t elsewhere. Greed is universal. Apparently, “infrastructure neglect” isn’t, insofar as it doesn’t cause wildfires except out on the west coast. Our entire energy grid is pitifully out-of-date and in need of technological upgrades, but only in the west does it seem like the enviro-nuts have control of park maintenance policy.

    Gryph (f63000)

  26. @26. Agreed.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  27. “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Remember that commercial? It was mostly aimed at careless use of matches, cigarettes and camp fires, but it did make a point.

    When I was a kid, my friends and I were out behind the apartment complex, playing with firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles. There were (still are) two large fields, a quarter acre each, west of the complex separated by a two-lane road, before some mesquite brush around a canal, then the elementary school. There was a newer subdivision across the road to the left that had a street of brick homes, but most of the older homes around the fields were wood frame. Also, there was a large undeveloped field, half an acre, to the south of the complex. The older homes surrounding it were also mostly wood frame.

    So, we’re out there playing with fireworks, as kids are wont to do, and WOOSH! the field caught on fire. It was incredible how rapidly the flames spread. In a panic, we ran, scrambled over the concrete block wall and jumped into the pool, where we would be safe in the water.

    Firetrucks came in thirty minutes and extinguished the fire, because that field was blazing out of control. So, a disaster was diverted. But, think about it, if not for the rapid response of the fire department, entire neighborhoods, including a school, could have burnt to the ground.

    We didn’t get into much trouble, when we were found hiding in the pool. We were just little kids, and the parents and authorities understood that we didn’t know what we were doing. However, we were strictly admonished–DO NOT PLAY WITH FIRE!–and we all got grounded for a month.

    I agree with Nic that some 70% of the Western states, particularly national forests, are owned by the federal government. Ultimately, it is the National Parks Service’s responsibility to maintain these forests. I also partially agree with Gryph, in that it was environmentalists that corrupted the NPS and prevented them from clearing out brush, tinderboxes, and prevented forest fires.

    It would have been simple, if you knew what you were doing. Clear out the brush, a controlled fire here and there, and all of this could have been prevented. Sugar cane growers down here would regularly burn their fields; there would be smoke in the skies; but it was a controlled burn that did not spread. The idea was to burn the field in order to plant a new one.

    There is a reason why in the Bible it says, (depending on translation) that “Man will have dominion over the Earth.” Dominion does not mean domination, hello. It means more like care-giving. As in animal husbandry. The shepherd takes care of his flock; the farmer takes care of his land; the rancher takes care of his herds.

    These environmentalists have no concept of that. Neither does the NPS. And the more’s the pity.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  28. O.M.G. Plagiarist JoeyBee is literally ‘outstanding in his field’ in Delaware, ‘with the gear in the rear’ cranking about fires in California– 3,000 miles to the west. Brags about smoke visible from a distance of 1 million miles away. [That’s the distance of NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) on NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite.] Hey Joe, space satellites can see the hairplugs on your head, too.

    “Biden once opined, during the 2008 campaign, that he thought that China should be a full partner with NASA in its space exploration programs. Considering what the Chinese government did to the world by covering up the coronavirus pandemic, he may want to walk back that opinion… What would a President Biden do with NASA, commercial space and the Space Force?

    The easy way to answer this question is that Biden’s space policy could be Obamaspace 2.0. The Artemis return to the moon program would be cancelled, or at least delayed for so long as to be rendered meaningless. The Space Force would be disbanded and folded back into the Air Force. Many Democrats, especially those who hope to serve in a Biden administration, tend to be against anything that President Trump proposes just because Trump proposed it. The commercial crew program, which has American astronauts shuttled to and from the International Space Station on private-sector spacecraft, would continue because it is seen as an Obama program. Indeed the launch of the Crew Dragon is considered a triumph for the former president’s space policy in some quarters, even though commercial spacecraft was a policy first devised by President George W. Bush.

    A President Biden could adopt a proposal advanced by former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver to turn the space agency into a climate change agency, an issue that Team Biden cares about far more than it does space exploration. Garver, who would be on a short list to be NASA Administrator in a Biden administration, has no use for NASA’s plan to conduct deep space exploration with human beings. Garver is currently executive director of a climate change organization called the Earthrise Alliance.” – source,, 5/25/20

    We already have a ‘climate agency’ Joe– two in fact, the EPA– and NOAA. And Joe, guess where the top spacesuit manufacturer is located: ILC Dover…in Delaware. [BTW, Lori Garver, an Obama/Clinton era lackey, is wholly incompetent and not an advocate of NASA HSF operations.]

    Joe, you incredible IDIOT.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  29. Guess where President Trump is, Joe while you were Hidin’Biden-it, safe in Delaware: on the scene at the fires in California.


    My God, the Dems running this ancient imbecile as their candidate will literally snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  30. 24. Infrastructure neglect may be a factor. Enviro-nut policy leading to massive forest-sized tinderboxes is *definitely* a factor. I suppose the two factors aren’t mutually exclusive. But they don’t mix well in any event.

    My point is simply this: If they could prevent a single power line from snapping for the next 1000 years, I guarantee you that in that amount of time, *multiple* lightning strikes would cause fires in the western United States without human help. It’s not a matter of *if* wildfires will start; it’s only a matter of when. And Commie-fornia has done a pi$$-poor job of planning for that eventuality.

    Gryph (f63000)

  31. I love the “global warming” vs “consequences of Green dictates” argument. Most perfect storms are the result of superposition. How about “global warming meets idiotic forest management”?

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  32. Global warming is a fact. What causes it is up for debate, although continued solar minimums and continued global temperature rises will narrow the argument some.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  33. A breeze shouldn’t bring down power lines. It does in California.

    More specifically, it does where PG&E is involved. SoCal Edison does not have these issues despite having forested areas.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  34. 35. & 36.

    Even if global warming wasn’t an issue, you’d still have lightning strikes, ladies and gentlemen! If there was some way we could somehow stabilize global tempertures *and* prevent a single power line from snapping for 10000 years, there would still be wildfires due to lightning strikes!

    Gryph (f63000)

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