Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Southern California Burning

Previous to moving to the Marianas, I lived my first eighteen years growing up in the foothills of Los Angeles, then the next twelve years in San Diego. I hate seeing these wildfires ravage neighborhoods every year now as more homes are built farther out into the chapparal and forests that are historic burn zones. The left photo shows a Poway firefighter moving past another lost home. Poway is on the I-15 corridor in North County from where over 300,000 people have been evacuated, including from towns like Rancho Bernardo and Scripps Ranch, where many of my clients lived and my office was located respectively, when I was in the mortgage business in the early-90's. This area is also the home of many current and former San Diego Chargers, Padres and other athletes. To the right is another Poway home in flames today. This morning I spoke with a college buddy who lives on a few acres about nine miles northeast of the evacuation zone and he said it is crazy, like the entire county is on fire. Everybody is gassing their vehicles and loading up their important possessions in case they to need to flee. He grew up in Poway and his parents, and nearly the entire community, were evacuated early Monday morning their time by a reverse-911 order.

According to Wikipedia, Santa Ana winds "is a Southern California reference to Föhn winds, a meteorological phenomenon occurring as a layer of wind is forced over a mountain range -- drying the air -- which then passes over the crest and begins to move downslope -- heating -- and becoming a strong, gusty, warm and dry wind which can raise temperatures as much as 30°C (54°F) in a few hours. The risk of fire danger increases by the winds' warm and dry conditions. As the Santa Ana winds are channeled through the mountain passes they can approach hurricane force. The combination of wind, heat, and dryness turns the chaparral into explosive fuel for the infamous wildfires the region is known for." I can add that the winds usually only last a day, though this Santa Ana condition was predicted to be two days. The winds leave your lips chapped, skin dry and flaky and hair wirey.

It's only been four years ago this month since Southern California wild fires killed 22 and destroyed 3,640 homes. I don't ever remember numbers like that in the three decades that I lived in Southern California. The frequency, size and amount of structural damage in the last fifteen years of fires suggest obvious overgrowth of housing developments into traditional burn zones.

As I get ready to post this, it is near sunrise Tuesday in Southern California. It's predicted that the winds will be even worse this morning up until early afternoon with gusts over 60 mph and temperatures over 90 degrees. There's really only enough firefighters to evacuate neighborhoods and fighting these fires is nearly fruitless. Scary stuff. I'll take typhoons over going back to that.


bigsoxfan said...

Hey thanks for the links. My sister and her family live in Del Mar, right on the edge if things stay the way they do. Any chance you know my brother in law Rich Caterina, he's in the commercial side of real estate.

SteeleOnSaipan said...

No, don't know him Mark but I'm sure that he's done well for himself. A college buddy of mine made a fortune the last ten years in comm.RE. Bought a Ferrari a few years ago.

Del Mar Heights is being threatened right now, if not already breached. They were just recently fighting to keep the flames from coming over the last ridge and down into the eucalptus forest. Once there, pretty much home free for the flames to Solana Beach and the ocean.

Total chaos and destruction. You gotta watch the video of Larry Himmel, newscaster in SD reporting in front of his own home up in flames. I think it's up on Yahoo videos now.

bigsoxfan said...

Hey Randy, I've been using these links, my connections a bit slow for live casts, the first one is a pdf file. Slow to be udated Fairly accurate. http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dmpr/emer/newsreleases/102207_1630_allfires.pdf

the google one is a good overlay.

You can also try this site if you have Google Earth. Follow the link
to download a .kml file showing fire reports and locations.


THis last one has good on the scene blog news, but I think he went to bed or was evaced as he is saying it's over and the latest pdf, shows what you are saying. My sister's is close, but the whole suburban area of Del Mar would have to go, as she is fairly well buffered from the heavy brush and eculaptus groves. Eculaptus looks nice, but burns pretty intensly. You would think they would learn from the aussies. Supposedly they were allowed to go home, but I'm not too sure they want to. She's at 32°57'18.64"N 117°14'54.32"W, if you do google earth.