Thomas Fire

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Dec 14, 2017 12:51 pm UTC

Grop wrote:It feels crazy that today we can't stop fires.

Dampen with water, or suppress with CO2 or other gases? We have the technology!

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:02 pm UTC

Grop wrote:It feels crazy that today we can't stop fires. I hope these ones will stop soon.


Well, we can stop some of them. A lot depends on where, how, and the size of the fire. The bigger they get, the rougher they are to stop. That said, California has always been a region with periodic dryness and water shortages. You put a whole bunch of people in there, and it's going to be a recurring issue.

The big thing is getting the people to safety, and so far, they've been doing a pretty good job of that, all things considered.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:11 pm UTC

Then maybe we shouldn't build sprawling suburbs in California?

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:12 pm UTC

As usual, orbital particle cannons are the optimal solution. Instantly vaporize a fuel break around any fire from space.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby sardia » Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:20 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Then maybe we shouldn't build sprawling suburbs in California?

I'll paraphrase ucim here "how dare you lower property values without the homeowners association's consent. We cannot be compelled to build more efficiently. "

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby morriswalters » Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:46 pm UTC

California has some of the best building codes in the world. They'll change the code and move on.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:50 pm UTC

Here in Maine, I met one of the building inspectors. He had absolutely no background in construction or education on the subject, so his job amounted to going to a house and saying "it doesn't look like a deathtrap." Codes themselves are worthless if you can't enforce them.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby morriswalters » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:26 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Here in Maine, I met one of the building inspectors. He had absolutely no background in construction or education on the subject, so his job amounted to going to a house and saying "it doesn't look like a deathtrap." Codes themselves are worthless if you can't enforce them.
I have no doubt. But for new construction you give the authorities plans to review which have to be signed by an architect or an engineer. And they should know. And all code enforcement authorities are not created equal.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:00 pm UTC

Zooming out on that satellite fire map, it really looks like the southeast (especially Florida) is a much worse place to be for fires right now than California:

https://maps.nwcg.gov/sa/#/%3F/36.8988/-96.5699/5

Combine that with annual hurricanes and yeah, I think I'll stay out west and deal with the once-a-generation fire disasters breaking up our otherwise perfect weather, thanks.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Thesh » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:06 pm UTC

All of the ones I see there are "Satellite Fire Detection" - no other details about the incident. Not sure if those are real incidents or false positives.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Liri » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:07 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I think I'll stay out west and deal with the once-a-generation fire disasters breaking up our otherwise perfect weather, thanks.

It's gonna be once-a-mouse-generation soon enough.

I'm planning on moving to CA from NC myself, though, so I shouldn't talk. Earthquakes!

edit: interestingly, I suppose, Florida is pretty much the only place in the US where conditions are ripe for dry lightning and natural forest fires. They occur elsewhere, of course, but much less commonly.
There's a certain amount of freedom involved in cycling: you're self-propelled and decide exactly where to go. If you see something that catches your eye to the left, you can veer off there, which isn't so easy in a car, and you can't cover as much ground walking.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Thesh » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:13 pm UTC

We get thunderstorms all summer here, which range from dry to mildly damp.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby morriswalters » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:32 pm UTC

You get fires where there is fuel. What you don't get during the fire season on the east coast are high winds, or structure losses in the thousands. Of course you do get tornadoes and floods, both of which can have significant adverse effects on human structures. There is always something, somewhere waiting to kill or impoverish you if you get careless. The RNG pulled your bacon out of the skillet this time. May your random numbers stay on the light side.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:05 am UTC

Thank the RNJeesus!

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby freezeblade » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:20 am UTC

Liri wrote:I'm planning on moving to CA from NC myself, though, so I shouldn't talk. Earthquakes!


Honestly, the threat of earthquakes is overblown. I've been in a pretty big one (San Simeon quake, 2003: 6.6), but ones that big happen near you maybe once a lifetime. I probably feel a small quake about once a year or so, smaller than 5.0, which feels like a big truck driving by, or someone slamming a door, no big deal at all. The last "big-ish" one I remember was the South Napa Quake in 2014, which was 6.0 in the middle of the night, I was only woken up because the pots and pans rattled in the other room (my pots and pans are hung above counters).
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Thesh » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:30 am UTC

Depends on the type of quake too. I slept through the Northridge quake, but I remember some of the aftershocks were pretty violent.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:40 am UTC

Back on more local fire news: it looks like my favorite place in Ojai Valley is the most intense part of the Thomas Fire now, Rose Valley, the site of a beautiful fern-covered fossilized-coral waterfall. It will regrow though, I'm sure; not really too torn up about the wilderness burning, since the plants will come back and the rocks don't care.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Thesh » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:52 am UTC

Plus, it's a net carbon sink in the long run.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:16 am UTC

I don't think forest fires act as carbon sinks. They release as much carbon as they later absorb when they grow back. I think. Wilderness in general acts as a very minimal carbon sink, in that as plants grow into the ground and die and the topsoil expands, carbon is sucked into the soil. I'd imagine that burning all the plants slows down this process, especially when the undergrowth burns instead of decaying into soil.

Personally, my favorite tactic for combating global warming is heavy iron fertilization of the Pacific ocean to trigger mass algal blooms, which then enter the food chain and are crapped to the bottom of the ocean or simply die off and sink. It does get a bit exaggerated in that iron fertilization doesn't directly take out atmospheric carbon, but it traps the carbon already dissolved at the ocean's surface, which then allows atmospheric carbon to dissolve faster. Plus, slows down ocean acidification. As a bonus, it helps the health of the oceans in that there's much more food available for all the salmon and other fish we keep overharvesting... possibly. The Hawaiian Islands do have a ready source of iron and are perfectly situated for this purpose.

Yes, yes, precautionary principle and all that, but even if we all stopped using fossil fuels tomorrow global warming is still going to get worse as it takes time for the Earth to reach equilibrium, and even then we still have all the extra carbon in the atmosphere that is going to take more time than any of us will be around to go back into the ground. It makes no sense to be cautious when we are already on course for horrific calamity.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Thesh » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:24 am UTC

Not all of the carbon gets released back into the air. Some of it sits around as ash, or dead wood that gets buried over time.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:50 am UTC

I still get the impression that regular old wilderness acts as a better carbon sink.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Thesh » Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:50 pm UTC

Well, the red flag warning (dry, windy conditions) has finally ended, but will pick up again. Apparently this was the longest red flag warning on record.

http://www.latimes.com/local/california ... story.html
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:04 pm UTC

Apparently this is up to the #3 biggest fire in California history now, and it only around 3000 acres or 13 square km away from the #1 position.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:06 pm UTC

Wait, is the fire over? It could still burn a bit more.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby freezeblade » Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:23 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Wait, is the fire over? It could still burn a bit more.


As of 9:20am (PST) today, Thomas fire is sitting at 45% contained. So not over yet.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Thesh » Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:24 pm UTC

It's still burning, 45% contained, still threatening homes, and there are still mandatory evacuations.

http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incident ... Index/1922
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:56 am UTC

It's up to the #2 spot now.

Lots of evacuations lifted today, containment up to 55%, and on the IR satellite map it looks like most of it has died down, with just some little hotspots along the north and a bigger spot near the Sespe in the east. The Santa Barbara front seems to have died down almost entirely.

Sounds like they're worried about winds picking up the next few days possibly changing all that, though.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:46 pm UTC

So, how long could it last? That's the burning question…

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby freezeblade » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:10 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:So, how long could it last? That's the burning question…


Last I heard, reports were that they were hoping to have it all under control by late first week of January or so.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:39 pm UTC

Sooo... They are making a movie based on the game Firewatch. If they need somewhere to film it...

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:33 am UTC

I just realized something while looking at Wikipedia's List of California wildfires: the first fire on record there, the 1932 Matilija fire (also in my back yard, since that's where Matilija Canyon is), was also the single largest fire on record until 2003's Cedar fire, which is still the largest on record. But four other fires have since surpassed that seven-decade record holder, all in the past decade: 2007's Zaca fire took the #2 spot until it was displaced by 2012's Rush fire, and 2013's Rim fire, which were #2 and #3 until 2017's Thomas fire surpassed all of those except the Cedar still.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Liri » Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:11 am UTC

Dang, maybe something is going on! Someone better check that out.
There's a certain amount of freedom involved in cycling: you're self-propelled and decide exactly where to go. If you see something that catches your eye to the left, you can veer off there, which isn't so easy in a car, and you can't cover as much ground walking.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:41 am UTC

It's almost like the climate has been changing or something.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby sardia » Sat Dec 23, 2017 3:40 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:It's almost like the climate has been changing or something.

That phrase has been banned by the Trump administration. Along with Fetus, transgender, and integrity.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby svenman » Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:25 pm UTC

The Thomas Fire has now surpassed the Cedar Fire to become the largest recorded in Californian history.

However, I've noticed that the Rush Fire of 2012 occupies the third spot in that list only because the part of the area affected by it that is in Nevada isn't counted, its total affected area (mentioned in a side note) is still larger than that of the Thomas Fire as of now.

Amusing thing I've noticed about that list, by the way: the Thomas Fire still has a footnote in that list indicating that as the fire is currently burning, its position in the list is subject to change. :) Okay, the footnote also indicates that the fire's total area is subject to change, so it is not entirely obsolete yet.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:07 pm UTC

Hypothetical. Let's say the fire never stops. A year later, the fire comes back and burns down a regrown area, does that get added to "total area burned"?

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:37 pm UTC

A huge column of smoke just started rising above the mountains northwest of Ojai. Satellite IR map only shows one small red dot around that area as of now, and news doesn't have anything to say about it. Hope it's not about to get a lot worse again.

ETA: Officer working the roadblock a block away from my house says it's a controlled burn and it's way up in the mountains, so nothing to worry about.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:58 pm UTC

Sorry to double-post, just wanted to note that it looks like there's hope the fire might be completely out by the end of the year, and the last road closure is scheduled to be cleared by late this afternoon.

Also, I took some pictures of a heavily-burned area I hiked to the other day, and I'll try to remember to post them later.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:01 am UTC

Sorry to triple-post, but I finally got around to putting together those photos, both of the active fire and its aftermath. In spoiler below:
Spoiler:
The morning of Tuesday, December 5th (the first morning after the fire started), as far as I knew (with no internet access thanks to fire damage to infrastructure) the fire was just in the northeast of the valley near Santa Paula, so with the power out I went for a walk in the southwest of the valley toward Ventura. It was blue skies at home and the whole drive out to the trail, but then most of the way down the trail (about a 30 mins walk), the sky started looking like this in the south:
Image
Then I ran into this, and decided to turn around:
Image
When I got back to my car, I could see this headed toward me from the east, and people in that neighborhood were under mandatory evacuation already:
Image
Not long after that I preemptively evacuated to Oxnard (the long way via Santa Barbara, because the southbound route out of Ojai, where I had just been walking, was closed by then).

Two days later, Thursday the 7th, there was still smoke pouring out of the mountains to the north. This is the view looking from Oxnard toward the eastern front of the fire that day:
Image
And toward the western front:
Image

Three days after that, Sunday the 10th, looking due north toward Ojai from Oxnard, at the enormous pyrocumulous clouds generated as the fire burned in the forests north of Ojai:
Image

Thanks to car trouble I was stuck in Oxnard another week, and didn't get a chance to walk around and look at the damage until Tuesday the 19th. Here are some views of the Ventura Riverbed, about a 20min walk from my home:

Image
Image
Image

Christmas weekend, Saturday the 23rd, my girlfriend and I went for a drive up into Upper Ojai Valley where the bulk of the fire had started. Surprisingly, there's wasn't much photo-worthy up there itself. But here's some views looking down from Highway 150 on the way from there back down into the east end of Ojai Valley proper, which apparently took the brunt of the fire:

Image
Image

Last Wednesday, the 27th, I took a walk from my house up to Pratt Trail, about an hour's walk away, which was also very heavily burned right down to the houses nearest that wilderness area:

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Last but not least, yesterday for New Year's Day my girlfriend and I took a drive up to the top of Sulphur Mountain, on the east of which is where the fire began, and looked down to the south (toward Santa Paula, Oxnard, and Ventura) at all the area that just went up in flames overnight between then and the next morning.

This is looking southwest from there toward the place I was walking the morning of the 5th:
Image
Image

Looking southeast toward Oxnard:
Image

And some of the damage up there on top of the mountain itself:
Image
Image
Image

Most of these images seem to be rendering upside-down or sideways in-browser even though they're right-side-up when I view them locally, not sure what's going on there, sorry about that.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Liri » Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:45 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Sorry to triple-post, but I finally got around to putting together those photos, both of the active fire and its aftermath. In spoiler below:
Spoiler:
The morning of Tuesday, December 5th (the first morning after the fire started), as far as I knew (with no internet access thanks to fire damage to infrastructure) the fire was just in the northeast of the valley near Santa Paula, so with the power out I went for a walk in the southwest of the valley toward Ventura. It was blue skies at home and the whole drive out to the trail, but then most of the way down the trail (about a 30 mins walk), the sky started looking like this in the south:
Image
Then I ran into this, and decided to turn around:
Image
When I got back to my car, I could see this headed toward me from the east, and people in that neighborhood were under mandatory evacuation already:
Image
Not long after that I preemptively evacuated to Oxnard (the long way via Santa Barbara, because the southbound route out of Ojai, where I had just been walking, was closed by then).

Two days later, Thursday the 7th, there was still smoke pouring out of the mountains to the north. This is the view looking from Oxnard toward the eastern front of the fire that day:
Image
And toward the western front:
Image

Three days after that, Sunday the 10th, looking due north toward Ojai from Oxnard, at the enormous pyrocumulous clouds generated as the fire burned in the forests north of Ojai:
Image

Thanks to car trouble I was stuck in Oxnard another week, and didn't get a chance to walk around and look at the damage until Tuesday the 19th. Here are some views of the Ventura Riverbed, about a 20min walk from my home:

Image
Image
Image

Christmas weekend, Saturday the 23rd, my girlfriend and I went for a drive up into Upper Ojai Valley where the bulk of the fire had started. Surprisingly, there's wasn't much photo-worthy up there itself. But here's some views looking down from Highway 150 on the way from there back down into the east end of Ojai Valley proper, which apparently took the brunt of the fire:

Image
Image

Last Wednesday, the 27th, I took a walk from my house up to Pratt Trail, about an hour's walk away, which was also very heavily burned right down to the houses nearest that wilderness area:

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Last but not least, yesterday for New Year's Day my girlfriend and I took a drive up to the top of Sulphur Mountain, on the east of which is where the fire began, and looked down to the south (toward Santa Paula, Oxnard, and Ventura) at all the area that just went up in flames overnight between then and the next morning.

This is looking southwest from there toward the place I was walking the morning of the 5th:
Image
Image

Looking southeast toward Oxnard:
Image

And some of the damage up there on top of the mountain itself:
Image
Image
Image

Most of these images seem to be rendering upside-down or sideways in-browser even though they're right-side-up when I view them locally, not sure what's going on there, sorry about that.

That is really something - thanks for these!

I've been in recently burned areas in the NC mountains and the Blue Mountains near Sydney, but they weren't so treeless like that where you can really see the extent of it. Working on prescribed burns is also very different.
There's a certain amount of freedom involved in cycling: you're self-propelled and decide exactly where to go. If you see something that catches your eye to the left, you can veer off there, which isn't so easy in a car, and you can't cover as much ground walking.


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