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November 26, 2008

Firefighter Saves Pup

 
This image was shot by Andrew Lamberson of the Daily Nebraskan.

Fire Captain Scott Thompson of Lincoln Nebraska pulled the family pet from a burning home on November 12.

The image is featured on MSNBC Photos of the week where viewers are invited to vote for favorite images. Andrew's image is the current vote leader among some solid competition that includes other fire images.
I consider this the firefighter image of the year. If you click the link to MSNBC and look at the larger image you might agree. Captain Thompson's expression, the rain and the frightened dog combine to make it special.

This is a feel good picture to take us into the holiday season.


November 23, 2008

What Became Of "Lil" Smokey?

 
You will recall the real life Smokey Bear story from earlier this summer.

The injured and orphaned little bear cub was taken to the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care center after he was found by firefighter Adam Deem during the Moon Fire in mid July.

Smokey is still under the care of the LTWC and has his own webcam where his fans can watch his progress.

What will become of Lil Smokey? According to the LTWC faq's page Smokey will be released in February while in hibernation. Imagine, he falls asleep in a couple of weeks from now and wakes up some time in March in a proper forest.

The Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care center survives because of donations from animal lovers.

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November 18, 2008

Socal Firestorm Losses Tallied

 
Firestorm numbers:

  1. 934 Homes Destroyed
  2. 42,000 Acres Burned,
  3. 21 Firefighters Injured
  4. $25 Mil. Suppression Costs

The Freeway Complex


Location: Orange County communities of Yorba Linda, Anaheim Hills, Anaheim and Corona in Riverside County.

Start Date November 15, 2008 at 9:00 am.
29,000 Acres
155 homes destroyed
104 homes damaged
9 firefighters injured
11 Million dollars in fire suppression costs (to date)
3,700 Firefighters assigned (at peak)

Sayre Fire

Location: Sylmar, Los Angeles County

Start Date November 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm
11,200 Acres
579 Homes destroyed
138 Homes damaged
124 Outbuildings (other) buildings destroyed
2 Firefighters injured
8 Million dollars in fire suppression cost (to date)
1,400 Firefighters assigned (at peak)

Tea Fire

Location Montecito, Santa Barbara County

Start Date November 13, 2008 5:30 pm
1,900 Acres
210 Homes destroyed
9 Homes damaged
10 Firefighters injured
5.7 Million dollars in fire suppression costs
1,900 Firefighter assigned (at peak)

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November 17, 2008

Freeway Complex Fire Mop Up

 
Twenty four thousand evacuees are heading home as firefighters put final touches on the 20,000 plus acre Santa Ana winds fire event.

The 3,600 firefighters summoned to the scene will take advantage of today's calm winds and (somewhat) milder temperatures to douse hot spots and patrol for wayward flames.

Officially 23,700 acres have burned between Corona and Diamond Bar in Orange County. Sixty homes have been destroyed and one hundred homes were damaged. One commercial building was destroyed.

Fire officials estimate the fire is 20% contained but certainly that number is much higher.

A couple being interviewed on CNBC standing in front of their multi-million dollar view home in Yorba Linda told the reporter they were in contact with their insurance agent. They explained how they just got a check for $1,000 from the Red Cross.

I wonder if they know their insurance company provides temporary relocation allowances in the form of a cash advance against their losses.


Photo sent by commenter via Flickr.

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November 16, 2008

Fires Name Game, Freeway or Triangle Fire

 
The Incident 209 filed this morning at 11:00 am calls the Orange County wildfires the "Freeway Complex"

Fire particulars
: Latitude and Longitude
Lat: 33° 52´ 22" Long: 117° 44´ 20"
Ownership: CA-ORC

Acreage: 10,470
Start Date: 11/15/2008 0905hrs.

The Incident 209 filed at 0700hrs this morning calls the Orange County wildfire the "Triangle Fire"

Fire particulars
Latitude and Longitude
Lat: 33° 52´ 22" Long: 117° 44´ 20"
Ownership: CA-ORC

Same acreage, same start date, same everything.

The 0700 report was prepared by J. Windham SITL (T) a trainee within the incident management team.

The 11:00 am report was put prepared by R.Dull (DPSC), a veteran team member.

This would not be a major concern accept the L.A Times is now calling it the Triangle Fire. That L.A. Times article is linked to from Drudge.

I suspect the L.A. Times was given incorrect information. Anyone?

*Update: Bob of Calfire News blog offers the explanation in the comment section below.

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The Battle For Hollydale Mobilehome Estates 11/15/08

 
The Hollydale Mobilehome Estates community was spared destruction by fast moving flames in Carbon Canyon last night. At approximately 2200 hours CBS2 helicopter pilot/reporter Larry Welk showed an overhead shot of a massive flame front racing uphill towards the mobile home park (map below).

Welk, a veteran fire reporter prepped viewers for a potentially tragic meeting of fire and private property.

Against swirling winds Welk held the overhead shot for more than 1/2 hour as flames leaped towards their target. As the fire approached the 50 home park the wind ceased as if on cue. As the first of the now slower flames came within range firefighters braced for the attack training straight streams of water at the approaching flame wall.

Blunting the fire head firefighters forced the fire to the northwest flank of the neighborhood. Firefighters armed with water guarded homes on the perimeter and expertly herded the fire out and away from the park.

This was a textbook structure protection maneuver. CalFire and the USFS should ask for the film from CBS2 and use it in training. Welk painted an accurate picture, this was a David vs Goliath moment, the newsroom anchors saw it that way too. Had the wind not let up this may have had a different ending. As it was no homes burned and no firefighters were injured.

Something that Welk missed and considering the darkness I cannot confirm. When the flames were about 80 yards from the first home what looked like a spot fire erupted between the main fire and the homes. The "spot" was immediately sucked into the main flame front and had the effect of halting the pace. I thought at the time this might have been a flare thrown from a firefighter and I believe now it was. That is what I would have done.

This backfire is what knocked Goliath to one knee.

The LA Times wrote about it. I watched it live and it rated 5 star on the drama-meter.


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Socal Fires Satellite Image, Sayre and Freeway Fires

 
Satellite imagery from NASA AERONET This image is from yesterday November 15.

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November 15, 2008

Sayre Fire Update; 613 Homes Confirmed Lost

 
The midday incident report filed at noon today reported 613 homes and 10 commercial buildings were destroyed in the first 12 hours of the Sayre Fire.

Facts and Concerns;

1,400 firefighters are assigned to the Sayre Fire
One firefighter injured with chest pains, one civilian injured.

Major problems and concerns (control problems, social/political/economic concerns or impacts, etc.) Relate critical resources needs identified above to the Incident Action Plan.
STEEP INACCESSIBLE TERRAIN, EXTREME DRY FUEL MOISTURE, STRONG FORECASTED RED FLAG WARNINGS EFFECTIVE THROUGH 2000 HRS, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16TH, THIS INCLUDES GUSTY WINDS UP TO 70 MPH THROUGH PASSES & CANYONS.

Projected incident movement/spread 12 hour time frame:
12 hours:
Fire has potential for continued rapid rates of spread to the West and Southwest due to strong Santa Ana winds, low humidities and unseasonably high temperature. The fire also has potential to move to the North/Northwest.

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
CLOSURE OF 5 AND 210 FWYS, MANDATORY EVACUATIONS INCLUDING ANIMALS AND DOMESTIC PETS. EVACUATION OF OLIVE VIEW-UCLA MEDICAL CENTER 216 PATIENTS (NO POWER) 5 PATIENTS ON VENTILATORS.

Sayre Fire Information LAFD Blog.


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Freeway Complex Fire Maps

 
A reader forward the link to the map below from FireImaging.com of the USFS. Contrast the image with the MODIS and CONUS KML detections on Google Earth below. The FireImaging software is much more detailed.


MODIS & CONUS KML via Google Earth Detection
(Click images to enlarge)

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Freeway Complex Fire Burns West Towards Ocean

 
The headline is a bit sensational but this is not an ordinary Santa Ana Wind event. The fire is spooking even veteran news reporters. Homes begin to burn miles apart forcing reporters to wonder if these are spot fires or new starts.

Hot spots include Yorba Linda and parts of Brea though no structures are involved in Brea at the moment. Separate structure are involved in Anaheim Hills including the Cascades Apartments that burned to the ground. No official notice has been offered but it appears the combined fires of the Freeway Complex are zero percent contained. Fire officials have estimated 68 residences have been lost in the complex so far.
This estimate seems low considering the devastation at the Cascades Apartment Community.

Below are some Google Earth captures. The first image is of a home that burned on Hidden Hills in Yorba Linda. KNBC TV4 LA copter pilot Justin Jeager reported this home was more than one mile from any fire activity up wind. Note the little palace across the street with ornate gardens and tennis courts. Quite a contrast to the modest homes claimed overnight in Sylmar.

Fire is indiscriminate.


Below is an overview of the Freeway Complex looking generally west
(Click images to enlarge)

A wider view with the ocean in the top of the image. The fire is very active and winds are still an issue. Fixed wing aircraft have been called back to base for the night.


Wider view of the Sayre, Tea and Freeway Fires

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Freeway Complex Claims Luxury Apartment Complex

 
The Freeway Complex has burned most if not all of the Cascades Apartment Complex in Anaheim Hills. As I noted in the post below the fire outran fire personnel.

Firefighters have reached the scene and are throwing water on the burning buildings however the entire complex has succumbed to flames.

The images below are from Google Maps streetview.


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Will follow...

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Freeway Complex (Corona Fire) Racing

 
The Freeway Complex, previously called the Corona Fire continues forging a path of destruction as it moves into Anaheim Hills. Again NBC4 Los Angeles has amazing coverage that you can follow live online.

The fire is moving faster than firefighters can chase it. Winds are predicted to abate throughout the afternoon. For firefighters and residents downstream it can't slow fast enough
So far dozens of homes have burned and more than 1,000 acres have been consumed.

Below is a Google map affected neighborhoods in Anaheim Hills. Channel 4 mentioned E.Serrano Road specifically.


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Heroic Act, Notes & Observations

 
A TV reporter interviewing two firefighters from either LAFD or LA County asked them awkwardly if their efforts to save the Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park was a "major" disappointment.

Firefighter Hahn (sp) responded bluntly, no, the effort was remarkable. Firefighter Hahn told the reporter that just as his engine company was ordered to leave the scene for safety reasons they checked one last home for civilians. Hahn and his partner discovered a couple in their nineties that had just awakened and had no idea the danger they were in. The two firefighters scooped the couple up and placed them in their fire engine and drove them out.

According to Hahn visibility was near zero. Keep in mind too that the winds were blowing over 50 mile per hour with burning embers blowing about.

Similar acts of bravery are being reported as information gets out.

*Tanker 910 made an appearance over the Corona Fire in Orange County. Local news followed the giant supertanker as it dropped its 12,000 gallon load. Unfortunately the bulk of the load dispersed before reaching the ground. Winds at the time were being clocked at gusts over 50mph. I'm surprised they were summoned in such wind.

Firefighters on the ground in Yorba Linda are chasing the fire as it hop scotches over gold courses, canyons and housing developments due to long range spotting. An exact count of homes involved is impossible at this point but by my count more than 20 homes have burned.

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Homes Burning In Corona and Yorba Linda

 
Numerous residences are currently burning as a result of a wildfire in Yorba Linda and Corona in Riverside County. Channel 4 news LA has a chopper overhead follow here.


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Will follow...

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Estimated: 500 of 600 Homes Burned In Oak Ridge Mobile Home Community

 
I've been blogging fires for about 4 years now and I can't say I have ever felt such sadness as I do today. Channel 4 news in L.A. just reported that they estimate 500 of the 600 homes in the Oak Ridge Mobile Home community have burned.

Earlier this morning firefighters were withdrawn from the park for their own safety. Forty to seventy mile per hour winds threatened to pin firefighters down in the narrow roads of the mobile home park.

This was a well established community, mostly double wide homes that ranged between $90,000 and $180,000. Working class and retired folks living together will now be confronted with rebuilding or moving to new locations.

I hope private insurance company representatives get to these folks as soon as possible with relocation and A.L.E. (additional living expenses) funds in hand. Grief counselors should be brought in today to help residents cope. I suggest hotel chains send representatives to the evacuation shelters with open arms.

This is a monumental disaster that requires direct action by the city, volunteer agencies and private business.

The images projected on local LA news are very powerful. Rarely does fire hurt so many in such a way.

Click image to enlarge

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Sayre Fire; 165 Sylmar Homes Destroyed or Damaged

 
Overnight Santa Ana winds peaking at 70 mph pushed the fast moving Sayre Fire through residential areas in Sylmar. One hundred homes have been damaged and 65 homes have been destroyed including 30 mobile homes in Sylmar.

Four freeways have been closed including Interstate 5, the 210, parts of the 118 and 14.

The smoke trail indicates movement west over Porter Ranch and towards Simi Valley. 2,600 acres burned at last report.

Local News & Video CBS Los Angeles

Fire officials report the following;

Values at Risk: including communities, critical infrastructure, natural and cultural resources in 12 hour time frames:
SYLMAR IS A HEAVILY POPULATED COMMUNITY ABUTTED SRA & ANF, OLIVE-UCLA MEDICAL CENTER, L.A. MISSION COLLEGE, VAN NORMAN DAM, HOLY CROSS MEDICAL CENTER, INTERSTATE 5, 210 & 118 FWY & L.A. RESERVOIR. THREATENED AREAS ARE LOS PINETOS COMMUNICATION SITE, CITY WATER & POWER CASCADES, POWER TRANSMISSION LINES WITHIN THAT AREA.

Today's observed fire behavior (leave blank for non-fire events):
GUSTY WINDS UP TO 70 MPH THROUGH PASSES AND CANYONS - RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT.

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
CLOSURE OF 5 AND 210 FWYS, MANDATORY EVACUATIONS INCLUDING ANIMALS AND DOMESTIC PETS. EVACUATION OF OLIVE VIEW-UCLA MEDICAL CENTER 216 PATIENTS (NO POWER) 5 PATIENTS ON VENTILATORS.

Remarks:
EVACUATIONS AHEAD OF THE FIRE ARE IN PROGRESS. INJURIES 1 CIVILIAN, 1 FIREFIGHTER WITH CHEST PAIN. 6 SHELTERS ARE OPEN - 3 HIGH SCHOOLS, 1 JR. HIGH SCHOOL , HANSEN DAM AND AN ANIMAL SHELTER.

HIGH WINDS & LOW RH, RED FLAG WARNING CONDITIONS FORECASTED DURING THE NEXT 12 HR PERIOD

882 firefighters are on scene and that total should double by this evening.

Update: The Sayre Fire is burning through the Oak Ridge Mobile Home park at the moment. CBS2 reports firefighters withdrew forces from the neighborhood. This mobile home community is a massive by definition.
Such sadness.


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Will follow...





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November 14, 2008

Tea Fire Burns 100 Homes In Exclusive Montecito

 
A wildfire has burned more than 2,500 acres and destroyed at least 100 homes in the Santa Barbara County community of Montecito.

The Tea Fire began early Thursday evening and was pushed by high winds. Two firefighters and two civilians have been injured. At this time 120 fire engines and 500 firefighters are on the scene with more resources en route.
Winds in the area are expected to top at 60 mph today and tomorrow.

Local video can be accessed here.

Local fire information Santa Barbara County OES

Local Blog; Doc Searl

Ed Veilmetti's detailed fire report.


Additional information; Student and faculty housing units at Westmont College were destroyed. No students were injured. Students sheltered in place overnight in the college gym.


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Click Image To Enlarge

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November 11, 2008

Sorting Things Out Post Election

 
This site is primarily about blogging fires but it's a blank slate when nothing is burning so I have a few observations.

In my neighborhood there were no lawn signs for Obama or Senator McCain. A neighbor nailed a giant poster their 7 year old son made to a tree trunk. The cardboard poster said "President McCain vote for" and was drawn with crayons. There were signs for Prop. 8 all over the place and a few signs for the mayoral race but few to none for president.

Once the election was over I felt a severe sense of loss for my Country. I have always felt the Country should be led by someone with military experience. Why? Because when you serve in the United States Military you agree to put your life on the line for the country. It doesn't mean you don't love your country any less if you don't serve but for the top office I like someone who ate dirt in boot camp.

This election was so important because we live in a world where so many bullies are waiting to test us and our resolve. This was no time to engage in social experimentation. 52% of the electorate did not agree with my view.

In the election aftermath I vowed to limit social interaction with those who I know voted for Obama. I know maybe four or five people who openly declared their intentions and we don't talk much anyway, they all live in blue states. Most of my immediate family are Republicans but I have a few friends and acquaintances that I've never discussed politics so I did not know where they stood.

Four days after the election I dropped my son off at a friends home and the mother came out to chat. I expressed my dissatisfaction with the election and she admitted she was upset as well.

She comes from Serbia, her husband is from Greece. She said to me "Mike, how stupid could the people be?" That is an abbreviated example of her anger. She has experienced living in a society where the government imposes severe taxation and burdensome regulation. What did you do she said? I'll never forget that statement. When their son enters college they plan to retire to Greece. If she is going to live in a socialist state she prefers Greece where costs and crime is lower.

Another friend, a dear friend, a single mother who lost her husband when their daughter was in fourth grade dropped by on Sunday. We have never talked politics, I assumed she was a democrat but it didn't matter, politics just never came up. My wife told her she won't watch the news now because it's all about the new president. Our friend let loose a floodgate of emotion and she too said what did these {foolish blanks} do?

She was particularly offended by the way the press treated Sarah Palin. The feminists failed Sarah, they betrayed what they originally stood for. Women especially should have applauded Sarah. Obamamania trumped fairness and the press and feminists dutifully fell in line.

So a new era begins. Hollywood is happy, newsroom editors are happy as are constitutional lawyers, community organizers, union organizers anyone disenfranchised, Cuba, Venezuela, Europe, the downtrodden, Generation Y and some Gen. X ers ........ your day is here.

Entrepreneurs, immigrants from socialist nations, proponents of a strong military, defense contractors, 401k owners, gun owners, pro-life supporters, investors and glass half full people, your ship has sailed.

By a 4% margin the nation bought into the "change" rhetoric. Change you may regret voting for.

If you have a strong stomach and a half hour to dedicate read the Obama timeline. Some of the stuff is bunk but if even 25% of it is true we are screwed.

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