An image of the Powerhouse Fire in California

From NASA:

NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color satellite image of California’s Powerhouse Fire with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on June 1, 2013. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.

According to the CBSnews.com, “Nearly 3,000 people from some 700 homes were under evacuation orders Monday as a wildfire north of Los Angeles kept growing, feeding on old, dry brush, some of which hadn’t burned in decades.

The blaze had burned about 46 square miles in the mountains and canyons of the Angeles National Forest, destroying at least six homes and damaging 15 more.”

Inciweb.org reports that the fire exhibited extreme rates of spread and became established across the aqueduct and Lancaster road. The rapid and unpredictable fire has made evacuations difficult. Evacuation order is in place for large portions of fire area, including the communities of Green Valley, Lake Hughes, Elizabeth Lake. Hikers on the Pacific Coast Trail are being rerouted to the desert.

The community of Lake Hughes is under mandatory evacuations and Elisabeth Lake is under a voluntary evacuation order from the Sheriffs. Over one thousand structures are being threatened by this fire.

Being employed to fight the fire are 975 personnel, seven bulldozers, 93 fire engines, eight helicopters, eight air tankers including a DC10, and 12 water tenders.

At present, the fire is only 20% contained and the growth potential is high due to low humidity, high temperature and the location of the fire in very rough, steep terrain.

A Press Conference is scheduled in Palmdade at 4:00 p.m. PDT to provide a fire update. More updates can be found at: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3399/

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner

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18 thoughts on “An image of the Powerhouse Fire in California

  1. So. Cal. used to burn on pretty much an annual basis for roughly the last million years. Plants have evolved to use the annual burn in their reproductive cycles.

  2. Fire is a critical defense mechanism Mother Nature uses to keep several types of ecosystems healthy.

    Mother Nature is persistent and usually gets her way, Suppressing fires in ecosystems which need fire to remain healthy simply delays the inevitable, and makes the fires more intense than they might otherwise have been.

    The massive Yellowstone Park fire of 1989 is an example. Ninety years of fire suppression activities resulted in a megafire which burned until the snow started falling.

  3. Liz, The state should sell the wood for woodworking. Mulching it is a waste. It’s an excellent moth repellent and makes a fine lining material for cabinets and chests of drawers. In California incidentally, the pest tree is Eucalyptus, which also burns like tinder.

  4. He must be saying that the trees are not of sufficient size to mill straight pieces of lumber. Too many knots would likely be another issue as cedars can tend to have a lot of branches unless they are growing under a larger canopy.

  5. Beta Blocker says:
    June 4, 2013 at 9:10 am
    “Fire is a critical defense mechanism Mother Nature uses to keep several types of ecosystems healthy.

    Mother Nature is persistent and usually gets her way, Suppressing fires in ecosystems which need fire to remain healthy simply delays the inevitable, and makes the fires more intense than they might otherwise have been.

    The massive Yellowstone Park fire of 1989 is an example. Ninety years of fire suppression activities resulted in a megafire which burned until the snow started falling.”

    Ummm….not exactly. The Yellowstone fires were in 1988, not 89. I worked those fires late in the season. Understand several key differences between SoCal and Yellowstone:

    *the most obvious is that Yellowstone is a National Park; the current Powerhouse Fire is burning in National Forest – the Angeles to be specific. Now, we can argue that the National Forests have been “National Parked” to death, but that would cruel so I wouldn’t do it. However, time was that National Parks and National Forests were managed differently. NF’s used to produce timber and good paying jobs….

    *The fire return interval in the area of the Powerhouse Fire is very short, measured in just a few years. Fire is a regular occurence. Yellowstone is located in the central Rockies at fairly high elevation (most of the park is well above 6000 ft), and the climate is cold and wet. A hot day in July might break 75. Thus, the fire return interval in measured in many decades. Much of the time you wouldn’t be able to get a fire going in YNP with the help of napalm. When the 1988 fires struck they were overdue to be sure, so there was a buildup of fuel and overly dense, decadent lodgepole pine forests. There were drought conditions that year, so when fires started in early July (way early), those in charge should have seen the risk and jumped on the fires. They didn’t, and a large portion of the park burned.

  6. And the legislature wants to ban beach bonfires? Compared to the regular bonfires which are about 1 million times larger? This is an example of the lack of perspective people have. Living longer than ever in history and convinced they are being poisoned.

  7. Liz, the “Eastern Red Cedar” is most assuredly native to Oklahoma. I grew up in Arkansas and the woods is done filled with them. I’m also a trained and licensed arborist. The “Red Cedar” is actually a juniper and is native across most of the central United States. Tell yer kids not to climb in them! The sap is near impossible to get out of yer hair! And them needles down yer shirt – itches like crazy. Take care.

  8. Meanwhile on the political front

    http://hotair.com/archives/2013/06/05/forest-service-chief-to-congress-climate-change-is-responsible-for-all-of-these-wildfires-you-know/

    ” Well, according to Mr. Tidwell:

    America’s wildfire season lasts two months longer than it did 40 years ago and burns up twice as much land as it did in those earlier days because of the hotter, drier conditions produced by climate change, the country’s forest service chief told Congress on Tuesday.

    “Hotter, drier, a longer fire season, and lot more homes that we have to deal with,” Tidwell told the Guardian following his appearance. “We are going to continue to have large wildfires.” …

    Climate change was a key driver of those bigger, more explosive fires. Earlier snow-melt, higher temperatures and drought created optimum fire conditions. …

    “This is a product of having a longer fire season, and having hotter, drier conditions so that the fuels dry out faster. So when we get a start that escapes initial attack, these fires become explosive in that they become so large so fast that it really limits our ability to do anything.” …”…

    “The federal government, via the Department of Interior, the Department of Agriculture, et al, has been meticulously imposing restrictive land-use policies across the country for years — rules of which environmentalists are particularly fond, since they can often effectively ban most productive human activity from certain areas in the ostensible effort to protect some threatened species or other. This prevents a lot of the logging and grazing activities that would otherwise thin out forests; American forests’ tree density has been on the rise, which in turn puts a strain on the water supply in a given region.

    “”Water depletion from afforestation — the establishment of trees or tree stands where none previously were — is the unintended consequence of a wildly popular federal policy. For millenniums, fires set by lightning or Native Americans limited forest stocks to roughly a few dozen trees per acre. All that changed after the nationally terrifying Big Blowup wildfires of 1910, which led the United States to in effect declare war on wildfire. The government’s wartime-like tactics included security watchtowers, propaganda, aerial bombing and color-coded threat alerts. Uncle Sam trained elite Hotshot and Smokejumper crews to snuff out enemy flames. Congress annually funded the war effort with an emergency blank check, now $2.5 billion.””…

    “First, the past century of fire suppression has resulted in roughly 112 to 172 more trees per acre in high-elevation forests of the West. That’s a fivefold increase from the pre-settlement era.”..

    “While environmentalist groups continue to clamor for more big government as the supposed solution to environmental problems, the federal government has managed to orchestrate a century of awful policy that has turned America’s public lands into increasingly dry fuel — and yet bureaucrats so often manage to overlook that fact when they are hurrying to pin our heightened fire-risk problems entirely on the politically convenient excuse of climate change.”

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