Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blustery Tuesday

The map shows no fires nearby and while the wind is as bad as ever it is expected to die out this afternoon.

One thing I found interesting is the myths about SoCal that build up in peoples minds. Lou Minnati observed: From your post yesterday (34.251,-119.081) I see that you have farms just north of your house. I thought they plowed under all the farms in your neck of the woods.

The Dawg Pound is extreme lower center, the rest is farmland. This is real farmland not some developer owned fields waiting for the bulldozers. In fact Agriculture is the #1 industry in the county dwarfing even biotech giant Amgen. The myth is that a region the size of New England is in anyway homgenous. After the fires are old news we'll revisit the planning successes and failures that led to why some places are still nice and others uninteresting urban sprawl.


Property Flopper said...


Ogg the Caveman said...

Murses. Foiled again.

Nice to hear that your place isn't on fire or anything.

sk said...

Yup, its farmland there alright. I've flown an ultralight over those fields and orchards, at 300 feet or so, and when I recall that I immediately recall the aroma of strawberries and of onions( ok onion aroma is overstating it - lets call it smell).

That 118 stretch was fun on a bike . Though the recollection of those rides is of eucalyptus.

My best wishes to you and that entire area. Lets hope it avoids a repeat of 2003.


Lou Minatti said...

I hear arsonist(s) started at least 3 fires near Irvine. I realize that most arsonists are either a) in it for the insurance money or b) firebugs, but what if the arsonists are doing it for a different reason? As in an organized systematic plan for destruction, something for the DHS and FBI to be investigating instead of the local arson investigators?

Dawg, it's true. I have spent lots of time in southern California, mostly in Orange County. In the mid-70s during the summer I stayed at my cousin's house in Garden Grove. There was a dairy farm right next door that was sold off and plowed under and housed in 1976. Since I've been back it seems that all of the farms and all of the groves have vanished in a sea of butt-ugly houses.

So it's good to know farming continues.

Ogg the Caveman said...

@ Lou Minatti:

Whenever I drive between the sticks and the big city I pass through an area that grows onion and mint. Going through there at harvest time is great. During planting, not so much.

Peripheral Visionary said...

California is a fantastic area for farming, perfect weather for it, although water resource intensive. We've already had the discussion on the conversion of productive land (farming) to non-productive land (housing), so I'll leave that topic alone.

I will say, however, that terrible natural disasters offer the opportunity to convert land to its best and most productive use, but I expect that that won't happen. Instead, we'll get the usual " . . .and we're going to build it all back!" line from the politicians (and developers, of course.) Lake Arrowhead, 400+ homes lost four years ago, 150+ homes lost this year, in the exact same spot. I don't think the embers will be fully out before construction moves in to rebuild it all, again. The only thing that will fix this behavior is rates from the insurance companies verging on extortion . . . and then you'll get calls for state-funded insurance, just like Florida.


Rob Dawg said...

We need to discuss the concept of defensible space at the community level. Look at the Stevenson Ranch pictures. Raw land right up against Cheek by Jowl urban residential.

Ogg the Caveman said...

Trouble is, there's no profit in buffer land. Developers don't want to eat the cost of it, and they can't pass it on to homebuyers either. Something like that would have to be imposed at the community level by some kind of *gasp* planning agency.

Property Flopper said...

> We need to discuss the concept of
> defensible space at the community level.

I'm a big fan of having at least a 200 meter kill zone outside the fence, preferably with artillery support pre-dialed in on all points within 2000 meters.

Oh, you mean for fires... Well, the cleared kill zone makes a nice fire break, but I don't think the artillery would be of much use.

Rob Dawg said...

Oh, you mean for fires...

No. You had it right the first time. I meant defensible space.

Heck, in a perfect world I'd get to shoot the phosphorous rounds to set the backfires.

Bill in NC said...

Does no one out there build with block and metal or tile roofs?

I sure wouldn't be putting asphalt shingles on a house there given the wind, much less the fire danger.

Rob Dawg said...

I've just got double thick dimensional composite shingles on upgraded underlayment. Not so much as a flap raised in all this. At the same time there are no end of videos showing tile roofed houses burning.

Metal roofing was a possibility but price prevailed. Block walls are impractial and honestly wouldn't make a difference in these conditions.

Ogg the Caveman said...

When you build with cinderblocks (or bricks, or anything else solid like that) what do you do with the interior? I assume there needs to be *something* inside the shell to allow room for electrical equipment and such.

wagga said...

You do know that phosphorous rounds have a different weight & aerodynamics than standard rounds.
Therefore the trajectory is different and you are pretty much guaranteed to miss what the pretty shells are hitting?

Not to mention that the nasty people shooting back at you know where you live.

formul8 said...

I am wondering how many opportunists in SoCal are going to be torching their "underwater homes"?

Watch, all the REO properties don't burn.

God and Mother Nature both hate California.

Anonymous said...


Bilgeman said...


"We need to discuss the concept of defensible space at the community level."

If you haven't sailed aboard a tanker, then you've probably never heard of this:


it's what we use to clean the cargo tanks on a tankship. Basically, it's God's Own lawn sprinkler, and I reckon that mounting one atop every telephone pole with a stub of pipe for connecting them all together at about 4 feet high would make for a very (fire) defensible space.

Especially where the development is cheek by jowl.

Evacuate the residents, daisy-chain 'em together, hook up the pump truck,suction into a suitable body of water, and let 'er rip!

Will it ever happen?

Heck no.

Anonymous said...

This [pic] doesn't go far enough north for you dawg, but I get the idea that fires are not rare out there. Generated using [propertyshark]. Hat tip HP.

BJ said...


Interesting link. It is part of something I have been thinking for quite a while now. The techniques for residential firefighting, particularly when in firestorm conditions, need to be rethought.

The prevailing methods tend to be using copious amounts of water and 'ventilating'. So much water that it runs down the streets in rivers.

Water has two attributes that are very useful for fighting fires. When water is converted to steam, its volume expands close to 1000 times (displacing oxygen that the fire needs to breath). It also consumes a considerable amount of energy to convert water to steam (1000 Calories per gram of water) (If you have ever tried to sweat a copper pipe that had a small amount of water in it, you know how much energy water will absorb). I have always felt that finely atomized water is more effective than strong streams, provided that it can be atomized at the hottest part of the fire or in the supplying air stream for the fire.

These flushing nozzles may also be useful to place around the boundaries of a house, and feed by either standpipe or street pressure.

Pleather Murse said...

Watching video of a DC-10 fire-fighting jet hotdogging just a few hundred feet over the treetops amidst seemingly endless miles of wilderness, not a car or house in sight. Pretty impressive sight watching this humongous passenger aircraft executing some of these maneuvers. It's got about 12K gallons of fire retardant in the belly and when it opens up to drop it's like watching an old bomber.

BJ said...

Some old C-130s should be joining.. Even more impressive since they are heavy lifters.

The USFS stopped using the C-130s for firefighting, but the military still has some that are outfitted for that role.

Now we just need the "Martin Mars" to join in... This is a scooping AC, with heavy lifting capability and in-flight retardant mixing!

Ogg the Caveman said...

What happened to the old PBY and B-24 tankers that got grounded last year? Are the out of the picture permanently?

Bilgeman said...


"The prevailing methods tend to be using copious amounts of water and 'ventilating'. So much water that it runs down the streets in rivers."

Hey, speaking as a guy who has played "tour guide in an SCBA" for two shoreside firefighters into a smoke-filled hold, I'm all for ventilation.
Especially the way the "farmboys" do it...and, if you're able to attack from "upwind", you can use a lot less water to extinguish the blaze.

Bummer for us aboard ship that "ventilating" often isn't really feasible.

The majority of the "wasted" water is from the containment boundaries, and as long as the blaze remains contained, I don't see that as all that much a waste.

" have always felt that finely atomized water is more effective than strong streams, provided that it can be atomized at the hottest part of the fire or in the supplying air stream for the fire."

Old steamships, (C-3 class...early to mid 50's and older), used to have a valve to admit superheated steam into the boiler firebox...just the ticket for a stack fire,(and also a VERY GOOD way to go deaf).

Steam will, as you say, smother a fire, but that only removes the oxygen leg of the fire triangle.

An excess of water will remove the "heat" leg, helping prevent a reflash.

Anyhoo...you get the idea to fight a fire by removing or soaking down everything flammable in it's path.

Anonymous said...


Lost Cause said...

The weather is getting nice again. No more smoke and cool air here in OC.

Pleather Murse said...

There is a 747 outfitted to drop that red stuff too but for some reason it's tied up right now. That'd be something to see.

BTW, we all know what the sequel to this is going to be come rainy season: massive mudslides!

Ogg the Caveman said...

Ah yes, mudslides. There were some folks in the expensive Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle who sued the city some years back for letting them build on a bluff. I don't recall the outcome, but their lawyers were confident that the city was at fault for their losses.

Rob Dawg said...

10PM. We can see stars and the mountains again. Calm and quiet. The Canyon Fire above Piru looks to be running out of places to go as it hits the edge of this summers' Zaca Fire. Both canyon and zaca are above the Santa Clara river and are sure to slide this winter. Long range forecasts call for a mild El Nina which means drier than normal. We'll see.