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Wildfire season - So it begins - Page 3

post #61 of 122
Thread Starter 

The June Mountain fire was still going and I haven't heard much about the containment, mostly because the King Fire (Pollack Pines) just east of Sacramento blew up over night, expanding from 30,000 acres to over 70,000 acres.  

 

Wanna see @Bob Lee get really pissed off......? (I know I am) :hopmad:

The King fire was ARSON!!!  Who the hell does this anytime, but especially not during a drought like we've been having??? 

Here is just one story about the fire and this guy's arrest.   If you google it, you'll see tons of new news stories.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-arson-arrest-king-fire-northern-california-20140918-story.html

post #62 of 122
The June Fire is in pretty good shape, 50% contained and limited activity:
https://www.facebook.com/inyonf/posts/725442714203089

The news about the arsonist on the King Fire makes me more sad than angry...until someone gets hurt badly, which - knock on wood - heaven forbid. People suck.

But the King Fire is a vicious gobbler from what I can tell. Weather forecasts have the wind shifting to the east, so that's good to help slow down the uphill head. But >30,000 acres overnight is seriously significant growth.

All this was kind of predictable given the lack of precip last winter and the lack of landscape mitigation like prescribed fire and thinning. Sending positive thoughts to all affected, currently and in the future.
post #63 of 122
Thread Starter 

The funny thing with fire, and evidence of fire. 

Phil and I were on a road trip to visit some vineyards with a Miata club on Sunday, about 14 miles away from the fire, which had been burning for about 24 hours.  The vineyard we were visit was on the other side of the ridge and we never knew there was a fire until we got almost home which is when we started to see smoke settling into Carson Valley. 

post #64 of 122
Thread Starter 

Here's a link to updates on fires burning in California. 

http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_details_info?incident_id=1059

And here is a map of the burn area......getting pretty close to Tahoe. 

Reports say that its ---
At 70,000-plus acres, the ‪#‎KingFire‬ is now 8 miles south of Alpine Meadows, California

Thinking of @TheDad with his house at AM

 

 


Edited by Trekchick - 9/18/14 at 2:31pm
post #65 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
 

Thinking of @TheDad with his house at AM

 

Thanks. I suspect we'll be okay.  The fire would have to crest the Sierra Crest at a location of low fuel density and then descend 2500 feet, which doesn't seem like a likely scenario.  And of course, it's just a second home for us -- I really feel for those whose lives are in harm's way.

post #66 of 122

Drove through Weed (just outside Mt Shasta) on a road trip a month ago. Just another normal, sleepy NorCal town. Fast moving fire went through there and completely destroyed a big chunk of the place a few days ago...

 

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2014/0916/California-wildfires-Town-of-Weed-snapshot-of-challenges-facing-firefighters-video

 

The Forest Service does a lot of work around South Lake Tahoe to thin the woods out and gather what's cut into piles that look kinda like wooden teepees. You can see scads of em driving in on Hwy 50 as you get up into the hills, and also hiking in a lot of places. Last winter was driving to SLT and got a late start. Passed through that area heading up to Echo Summit after dark and with a light snow falling. The Forest Service had apparently picked their time to go through and set all those piles on fire - safest time to burn up all that fuel, I guess. It was an eerie site driving along - scores of burning/glowing piles off in the woods, some fairly close to cabins.

 

I had always wondered about all those piles in the woods. Guess if they can get them burned up safely it can significantly reduce the amount of fuel and therefore the intensity and scope of these forest fires in the most dangerous part of the dry season.

 

To date not a single structure has been lost in the King Fire. Amazing work by those firefighters, and some luck too, I imagine. Hope it stays that way.

post #67 of 122
post #68 of 122
Thread Starter 

Since I last posted the Iron Man Lake Tahoe crew cancelled the Iron Man while athletes were at the beach ready to go.  

They sited air quality, as you can imagine.  Some athletes were happy for the decision, others were mad that they waited until the last minute, others were annoyed but understanding.  Some athletes actually decided to do part of the course because they were ready to roll and wanted to do something. 

Here is one area over Brockway  where athletes would have been on Sunday (picture taken on Monday) 

And another area for the bike portion in the valley 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, I woke this morning to find out that they have doubled the containment overnight.  Today's weather forecast is calling for high winds, which could set them back.  

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4108/

Phil and I went for a drive yesterday and took a few pictures.  Its unusual to not be able to see the other side of the lake 

 

 

post #69 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post
 

Nice story about a lead plane pilot:

http://www.news10.net/videos/news/local/auburn-grass-valley/2014/09/19/15873417/

Thanks for sharing that.  I had not seen it. 

post #70 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

...Wanna see @Bob Lee get really pissed off......?

Now this gets me really pissed off:
http://wildfiretoday.com/2014/09/28/fire-that-orphaned-mountain-lion-cubs-was-started-by-exploding-target/
post #71 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:

^^^^^WOW!
Holy Crap!!:hopmad:

What is wrong with people? 

Seriously???

 

 

Meanwhile, the King Fire is 92% contained, thanks to rain for three days over the weekend which helped the firefighters get a better grip on it.  

They expect 100% containment by Saturday.

post #72 of 122
I've maintained this for years:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/10/01/bark-beetles-western-wildfires/16544099/

It seems counter-intuitive, but fires are driven by the availability of so-called "fine fuels" - grass, needles, brush. Once the needles fall off bug-killed trees, the fire danger mitigates greatly. Tree trunks burn slowly, just like big logs in the fireplace do, and also like the fireplace, they generally need kindling to get started.
post #73 of 122
Thread Starter 

The fire at Yosemite has been relatively quiet on our local news but tonight we're seeing some bad news. 

Pilot Dies in Air Tanker Crash at Yosemite

The general consensus is that the tankers being used are old and heavily used, some in bad repair. :(

Now the tankers are grounded until there is an investigation. 

post #74 of 122

This is a good time of year to start thinking about this:

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/living-wildfire

 

Quote:
 The low-elevation forests where fuels reduction might be useful make up only a quarter of the forests in the western United State

 

Quote:
 ...fuels-reduction efforts may increase risks to life and property by encouraging development in fire-prone areas

 

Quote:

"Unless people view and plan for fire as an inevitable and natural process, it will continue to have serious consequences for both social and ecological systems,” Moritz and his co-authors write. Perhaps it’s time that Smokey, in addition to teaching us to prevent forest fires, taught us to coexist with them.
post #75 of 122

http://www.christinanealson.blogspot.com/

 

Good blog about the Yarnell accident from two seasons ago.  I took a lot of ugly attacks for noting that this incident was not a result of the nonexistent warming in the US of the last 18 years, nor a result of lack of sufficient federal funding, nor a sign of a bad fire season in what was actually one of the least busy seasons of the last decade, but instead a tragic accident caused by a mistake in judgment. 

 

More about the mistake has surfaced.  Fire is a highly emotional issue and easily storyboarded to support one cause or the other.  I'll go on record now and say that this coming season will likely be a bad one, in spite of the slight cooling in the contiguous US over the last 18 years.  Life in areas prone to burning is similar to life in a flood plain, plain and simple. 

post #76 of 122
In stark contrast to last year, there will be no fire restrictions until after memorial day or later in northern AZ. We were having big fires this time last year so man what a blessing this moisture is.
post #77 of 122

TC, maybe time to start a new thread. It has definitely begun...

 

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Wildfire-closes-Highway-50-in-El-Dorado-County-6402333.php

 

In many places.   :-(

post #78 of 122

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/opinion/more-logging-wont-stop-wildfires.html?_r=2

 

Excellent NYT piece addressing one way people are trying to use what is a natural and inevitable process as a political football. 

post #79 of 122
post #80 of 122
Thread Starter 

I've been hesitant to start a 2015 Wildfire season thread because it usually turns into a sh!tshow, but I've been watching the news diligently. 

 

Its crazy in all of California.  The Sierra is definitely impacted by fires, but so far we haven't had the debilitating smoke to endure. 

post #81 of 122

I've often wondered about the teepees of cut limbs in the Tahoe forests. I've seen some of them burned off safely during the winter when there's snow on the ground, but for the most part they're just sitting there like piles of kindling in the woods.

 

How about changing the name of the thread to just "wildfire season"? As long as it remains civil there's nothing wrong with an exchange of ideas and opinions, even if it does become, er, heated, and it would be interesting to get updates from folks in different areas.

 

No doubt it is shaping up to be a helluva fire season!

post #82 of 122

It does seem a shame to just burn those piles. It is an energy resource that could go in a greenwaste powerplant. A good economical way to transport it out is needed. Maybe just the permits to do so (good luck there?).

 

Aren't fires a major source of greenhouse gas? Perhaps a more active fire management program could have multiple benefits - energy production, forest preservation and greenhouse gas reduction. If we could get both Enron and the Sierra club on board...

 

Eric

post #83 of 122

This is kink of eye opening, a list of the U.S. forest fires burning now. http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/current.php?op=table&sensor=modis

 

The number of places showing HIGH fire danger is down right scary.

 

Here in SW Oregon there are several fair sized fires going burning about 20,000 acres in mostly rural country. Most of the region is in Stage IV Fire Danger; 'no commercial activity in the woods, no motorized vehicles'.

post #84 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post
 

This is kink of eye opening, a list of the U.S. forest fires burning now. http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/current.php?op=table&sensor=modis

 

The number of places showing HIGH fire danger is down right scary.

 

Here in SW Oregon there are several fair sized fires going burning about 20,000 acres in mostly rural country. Most of the region is in Stage IV Fire Danger; 'no commercial activity in the woods, no motorized vehicles'.


 We are due, since it is hot and dry.  The last couple years had been some of the least-busy of the last decade, so also we're due for a bit of mean-reversion, even aside from the dry conditions.  For some affected areas the El Nino may bring more moisture in the fall than normal, though, so give temporary relief though the rains will bring their own issues. 


Edited by CTKook - 8/5/15 at 11:24am
post #85 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post
 


 We are due, since it is hot and dry. 

 

Three years of low precipitation and severe drought conditions in a large portion of California will do that.  Not surprising there are serious fire issues.  And the water conservation efforts that accompany that.

post #86 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by eleeski View Post

It does seem a shame to just burn those piles. It is an energy resource that could go in a greenwaste powerplant. A good economical way to transport it out is needed. Maybe just the permits to do so (good luck there?).

Aren't fires a major source of greenhouse gas? Perhaps a more active fire management program could have multiple benefits - energy production, forest preservation and greenhouse gas reduction. If we could get both Enron and the Sierra club on board...

Eric

Logistics. About 15 years ago, as the current era of megafires was developing, there was a lot of national and regional level interest, discussion and research directed at developing power plants to be fueled by wood and fiber from forest health and fire mitigation projects on public land. Few, if any, production-level plants exist, and it turns out that the logistical problems were discouraging. For one thing, the labor and transportation cost were extremely high compared to the energy available from the material. Second, picking the stuff up out of the woods requires roads or expensive overland machinery which impose watershed issues.

And a huge factor is sustainability. It turns out that the federal government managed lands require things like periodic NEPA review of projects like that and the potential power plant operators could not be guaranteed sufficient time and access to sufficient biomass for them to get a reasonable return on their investment and compete with traditional sources of power. Traditional sources have been much cheaper on a large scale.

And that last point is related to the current state of government funding. Under the current structure of funding, land management agencies are spending such a large proportion of their allocation on fire suppression that they have to take $$ from other activities, like thinning and planning. I think they would find themselves unable to plan, manage, and oversee large thinning and brush removal projects designed to provide biomass to power plants.

TL;DR It turns out that, the way things are now, the value of biomass for energy production doesn't cover the bottom line.
post #87 of 122

Imagine this type of thing may become more common...

 

San Diego Gas & Electric will seek approval this fall to bill its customers about $367 million to cover settlements from the devastating 2007 wildfires, the investor-owned utility said Wednesday.

 

www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/aug/05/wildfire-costs-who-pays

post #88 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by jc-ski View Post
 

Imagine this type of thing may become more common...

 

San Diego Gas & Electric will seek approval this fall to bill its customers about $367 million to cover settlements from the devastating 2007 wildfires, the investor-owned utility said Wednesday.

 

www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/aug/05/wildfire-costs-who-pays


Well, I should think it will affect the rates.  Can't absorb huge losses forever without going bankrupt.  Can't mitigate all possible scenarios.  It costs money to distribute power and the clients will pay eventually I should think.

post #89 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott43 View Post
 


Well, I should think it will affect the rates.  Can't absorb huge losses forever without going bankrupt.  Can't mitigate all possible scenarios.  It costs money to distribute power and the clients will pay eventually I should think.


 Makes sense that if they're required to provide service to high-risk areas, that their entire customer base also pay the costs for the settlement.  The alternative would be to allow them to stop service to anyone in a high-risk area, and/or allow them to charge those people a large premium and to force them to waive most rights for any future issues. 

 

Assuming criminal behavior isn't involved, there's a real case to be made for not caring how the fire started though.  Many areas not only will burn, but need to burn.  So, when they do, once you determine arson or other criminality isn't an issue, why not chalk it up to "it burned"? 

post #90 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post

Assuming criminal behavior isn't involved, there's a real case to be made for not caring how the fire started though.  Many areas not only will burn, but need to burn.  So, when they do, once you determine arson or other criminality isn't an issue, why not chalk it up to "it burned"? 

I don't know if you include negligence as a criminal act, but in the real world fires started by negligence do, in many areas, pose a serious and unacceptable threat to peoples' homes, livelihoods, and safety, to say nothing of the threat to firefighters and expense to publicly funded agencies So I would include negligence as actionable. Things like campfires, welding without adequate precautions in fire-prone areas, and careless trash burning.

That kind of leaves lightning and unavoidable accidents, and overlooks the extremely critical importance of weather, vegetation, and social conditions at the time of a burn in determining the benefits or damage from a given fire.
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