Fire Season

The 2017 fire season was the nation’s costliest, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which houses the Forest Service. That agency’s annual budget is increasingly dedicated to suppressing and fighting wildland fires, as longer seasons and more destructive blazes require more resources. Millions of acres have burned in the West this year, mostly in California, Montana and Oregon. Some of the West’s biggest fires began in September, at a time when the fire season is typically waning. But by mid-September, California had declared the first of several states of emergency, when blazes threatened giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park. Nowhere were fires more intense than in Montana, where more than 1.2 million acres burned. In Oregon, the Eagle Creek Fire tore through the Columbia River Gorge. With long-term climate trends portending more frequent droughts, this kind of severe and expensive fire season is more likely to become the norm. According to the National Interagency Fire Center’s most recent wildfire potential outlook report, it’s not over, either: Southern California should see higher than normal wildfire activity well into 2018.

For the rest of this article, and to see the statistics go to:

https://www.hcn.org/issues/49.21/infographic-why-western-wildfires-are-getting-more-expensive

Getting ready to make the switchover from winter weather watching to summer fire season. I will be leaving my weather links up for a bit, yet, but wildfires are happening in So Cal and in Colorado and other states a bit early this year, so will be adding in a few of those links as well.

 

Fire Updates, 7/10/17

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BTW, FRA is federal responsibility area and SRA is state area responsibility.

8:00 am –

Whittier – 10,823 acres and 10% containment (Lake Cachuma)

Alamo – 29,000 acres and 15% containment (E. of Santa Maria)

Stone -340 acres and 40% containment (Santa Margarita)

Parkfield -1816 acres and 80% containment (San Miguel) Unless there is a significant development, this will be the last report on this fire.

Garza – 5000 acres and 5% containment (Fresno/SLO/MoCo border)

Fire Updates, 7/9/17

9 pm update:

Alamo: Update : 23,876 acres – 15% contained

Whittier: as of 11 this am – The fire is 7,800 acres

Parkfield: Update : 1,816 acres – 60% contained. Forward spread stopped.

Stone: Update, 340ac, forward progress stopped. Structures lost.

Garza: Update 2000 acres

7:00 am updates:

Parkfield:  as of around midnight last night, this one is 1500 acres and 30% contained.

Alamo: as of 6 am this one is up to 23,867 with 10% containment and heading west and south toward the 101 and Santa Maria. Here is a fire map:

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Whittier Fire:  is 7800 acres and has crested Santa Ynez mountain and visible from Goleta now. This was 11 pm last night and from Goleta:

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Traffic Issues are back, 7/3/17

5 pm update – from a follower: “today was ugly, be aware and on the lookout, sobranes, garrapatta, rocky creek & bixby all way overcrowded and people parking in the highway”

Due, at least in part,  to an aggressive campaign by the Monterey Visitors and Convention Bureau, the traffic issues we have been without are back with a vengeance. And this is just since the trail opened to the public on Saturday. Imagine what is coming when Paul’s Slide opens this month.  Fire danger, anyone? What is the plan? Or *IS* there a plan?

At Point Lobos: 11:26 AM 1 [1] 20 VEHS PARKED ILLEGALLY

At Soberanes Point: 12:00 PM 1 [1] 3 VEHS PART 1125 [blocking roadway]

And at Hurricane Point and Bixby Bridge:
11:08 AM 4 [21] Incident Re-opened: STATE PARKS HAD RPT OF NAILS BEING DELIBERATLY DROPPED ON BIXBY BRIDGE
8:22 AM 3 [18] A27-022 22 1097 THE AREA [10-97 arrived at scene]
7:46 AM 2 [3] RP DOES NOT NEED ASSIST FOR HIS VEH ( 12 GRY NISS PATHFINDER)
7:46 AM 1 [2] RP ADV ON THE SHOULDER AND ON THE EDGE OF THE ROAD

And a friend in town stated that at noon, there was an 8-mile backup of cars on Highway One.

And this was Garapatta yesterday. (Photo by Martha Diehl)

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Fire on FHL – Bull Rock

5:20 pm – Far enough away that it should have no impact on Jolon, Mission or Nacimiento commutes.

4:20 pm – here is a general map, I believe it is in the red restricted area, between Gabilan Rd. And Mesa Coyote.

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3;45 pm – FIRE IN THE GAVALAN AREA
FHL, CALFIRE and Los Padres National Forest firefighters on scene. Expect fire to be about 1,000 acres and contained early evening. No immediate danger to surrounding civilian community.

Here is a weather report and map to give some idea where it is – which is south end of base:

http://www.weather.gov/spot/php/forecast.php?snumunum=1711871.0&lat=35.888247830682474&lon=-121.23017347479065&z=13

Lessons from Portugal

Last Saturday night,  a devastating wildfire broke out in Portugal. This region is serviced by a winding, mountainous road. 62 people are confirmed dead. The fire started on Saturday night, and by Sunday morning was out of control.

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Portugal’s central region continues to burn as firefighters battle a deadly inferno, which has killed at least 62 people to date. Sources say that over half these people died in or around their vehicles as they tried to escape the fire on a windy, mountainous road.

The blaze that erupted in the municipality of Pedrógão Grandeas. Wildfires are very unpredictable, firefighting experts say, especially when high temperatures, low humidity and a particularly dry landscape create a vast tinderbox in large wooded areas.

On the South Coast of Big Sur, one campfire may have started a wildfire on Nacimiento Rd. last week, although the cause of the fire is still under investigation. And Sunday, I found a group of campers having a campfire in the middle of an open dry, grassy field disregarding a large no campfire sign they had passed only about 100 yards before the place they chose to camp.

In only 3 days, we will experience the anniversary of the start of the Basin Fire. June 22, 2008, a series of lightning strikes started several wildfires which became the Basin Fire. People, particularly visitors, were able to evacuate in three directions, north, south, and east. This summer that is not true.

Businesses and Chambers of Commerce all up and down the Central Coast are pushing to allow visitors into the areas of Big Sur that are cut off with the only escape routes being a long and difficult pedestrian only trail from the TapHouse to the State Park, or a very narrow, windy mountainous road over the Santa Lucia’s to the east.

Personally, I am concerned about the advisability of this short-sighted solution given the fire conditions we currently have before the end of June, and what is surely ahead. More people mean we increase the chance of man created wildfire, as well as complicate in dangerous ways any need to evacuate tourists and residents. We are facing potentially, the perfect storm of conditions ripe for a wild fire. Grasses are tall due to the rainy winter, they are dried out, the heat wave has been and will be ongoing. I hope there will be no need to evacuate by any of us, but if there is, can we minimize the danger to those of us trapped between the bridge and Mud Creek? Or will we be facing a massive traffic exodus on a road not designed for that purpose? How will emergency vehicles get here, if the road is filled with fleeing visitors? I think these are serious questions we all need to address, particularly our federal, state, and local representatives and agencies.

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There are lessons to be learned from what is happening in Portugal. I hope we can learn them in time.

Two Wildfires, one near King City, one near Soledad

And so we see the start of Fire Season 2017.

April 24, 2017

Vegetation Fire, Crews Kept Busy in Southern Monterey County

At approximately 11:30 a.m. on Monday April 24th 2017, units from the South Monterey County Fire Protection District (SoMoCo) and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) responded to a wildland fire in the King City area near the intersection of Highway 101 and Jolon Road. The fire was burning in grass and brush with no structures threatened or damaged.

Upon arrival, firefighters found approximately three acres of grass fire burning, including an area adjacent to the base of a power pole. While firefighters were controlling hotspots, crews discovered damaged powerlines.

While firefighters were busy with this fire, units from the City of Soledad, the Correctional Training Facility Fire Department, the Greenfield Fire Department, the City of Gonzales Fire Department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) took reports of a second fire. The second fire was in the foothills, east of the Soledad City limits. Upon arrival firefighters found a fire being driven by strong winds up a hillside. Crews kept the fire to eight acres. Workers using grinding and cutting tools, when sparks caught nearby grass on fire.

No evacuations or road closures were initiated nor were there any structures damaged. There were no firefighter injuries during either incident.

CAL FIRE would like to remind everyone to be aware of current weather conditions while using power equipment.

CAL FIRE would like to remind everyone that wildland fire season is rapidly approaching and residents are urged to be aware of current weather conditions and to use precautions when using power tools or mowing their properties.

 

Fires in Adjacent Counties

there is a wildfire in Santa Cruz County that broke out about 15 mins ago at SR 9 and Keystone Way. The road is closed at both ends. The CHP site did not say which road, but I think Keystone Way is a good bet.

In SLO Co, a vehicle fire broke out about 10 minutes ago at Main St. And the 101 freeway. All occupants are out of the vehicle. Let’s hope it doesn’t go into vegetation.

Ah, yes, Friday night on the Central Coast.

Fires in North, South, and Central CA

1 pm – Ventura Fire Captain on CBS 2 puts the acreage above 6500 and rapidly growing.

10 am – update Springs fire up to 2000 acres. Mandatory evacuations in place for a number of areas.

The Panther Fire started yesterday in Butte County up north and has grown to 1600 acres with 0% containment; the Summit Fire near Banning has burned 3,000 acres and is 35% contained. This morning, a fire started in Camarillo near the Ventura Freeway. It is at 100 acres now at 9 am, with a rapid rate of spread. So Cal is said to be in fire conditions normally found in August. Fire season is definitely upon us. Heads up, everyone!

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This is the Springs fire in Camarillo.

Colorado Wildfires

I don’t cover out-of-area wildfires, in most cases, and I’m not going to cover these, except to let my readers know I am a tad preoccupied. There are many going on in the state, one of which is Waldo Canyon, just outside Colorado Springs, where my daughter and 3 of my grandchildren live. 11,000 people were evacuated this morning. Not my daughter. Nevertheless, it is close enough to worry, and to spend much of my online time keeping up with the status. Once I am no longer preoccupied, I have photos and events to cover. Hopefully in the next couple of days.