La Nina drought hits home for me as wildland fire

Below is the image from my weather station in Chico, CA looking SE at the Humboldt Fire which is engulfing a good portion of the southern and eastern outskirts of my community. You may have heard about this on the national news.

Fortunately I have a huge firebreak in the form of an stormwater overflow canal, but I’m still watching this carefully.


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June 12, 2008 8:04 pm

Scary dude. My cousins had to flee the Tahoe fires last year, but were lucky and didn’t lose anything. How dense is the brush in that field in the foreground?

June 12, 2008 8:26 pm

I got disgusted with California wildfires when I learned that environmental laws prevented firebreaks to protect, I believe it was, the kangaroo rat. I love animals as much as anyone but if man is only an animal he should be loved too and if he is greater than an animal, then he should be loved even more.
Anthony, I’m glad you have an existing firebreak.

Frank Ravizza
June 12, 2008 8:27 pm

I smelled the scent of wild fires all day around the Livermore area. I doubt this smoke came from Chico but with it is so dry out I imagine there are wild fires all over the state. All this makes me even sicker when I see someone throw a smoldering cigarette butt out of their car!

June 12, 2008 8:31 pm

I drove from Anderson to Yuba City on Hwy 99 today. I could see the smoke from this fire all the way from Tehama County. Winds are strong from the north at ground level, and the smoke is drifting west at higher altitudes. I saw 7 fire trucks and 2 bomber planes on the scene in the morning. On the way back this afternoon, the smoke was a LOT denser and darker. Neal Road was closed. 3 CHP’s and a Sheriff car were speeding south to the scene with lights flashing. I hear they may evacuate Paradise. I also spotted a small roadside fire getting started between Gridley and Biggs — with no one on the scene yet. There’s also a tall plume of smoke in the hills of West Tehama county. ‘Tis the Season!

June 12, 2008 8:39 pm

Looks like you’ve got a nice field of grass to boot… Won’t burn as hot as the chaparral, though if the winds are high enough you never know…

June 12, 2008 8:47 pm

“I hear they may evacuate Paradise.”
Mercy. I hope St. Peter has current records of who’s in and who’s out – he’ll want to keep the riff-raff out of the pearly gates.. 😉

June 12, 2008 8:59 pm

I love the smell of creosote bush after a rain but dang, that stuff likes to burst into flame at the slightest excuse. Our place in Arizona was surrounded by it, although we kept our land clear. Where we lived if the desert (or the house) caught on fire, we were SOL.

Evan Jones
June 12, 2008 10:17 pm

If your surface station burns down is that a CRN-451 violation?
I hear they may evacuate Paradise.
It’s not like I didn’t warn you to to keep your hands off the neighbor’s apple tree.

Evan Jones
June 12, 2008 10:19 pm

Damn. sravana beat me to it.
(I hope everyone is okay out there.)

June 12, 2008 10:35 pm

I used to go to San Jose for a 10 day business trip each Feb/Mar. The first trip, around 1988, was longer – it rained all but one day and broke a five year drought. In fact, I developed a reputation for bringing rain, I was there for a 40 year flood that made national news. Almost saw snow at valley level another year.
My sister moved to Berkeley a few years ago and is continually amazed at the amount of vegetation that get pulled out of the home lots in the area. I wonder if the combination of higher CO2, more growth with less transpiration, and dryer weather (does that come with the cold PDO?) will lead to more fuel for the dry season fires.
I’ve concluded that California’s state nickname shouldn’t be “The Golden State,” but “The Disaster State.”

Leon Brozyna
June 12, 2008 11:39 pm

poetSam said it so well {2nd comment}.
Hadn’t heard of the fire but then I normally don’t get my news from the network news shows. Please do keep us posted.

June 13, 2008 6:03 am

Just chipping in here to wish you well & hoping the fire keeps its distance.

June 13, 2008 9:18 am

That firebreak is not a firebreak.
A firebreak is a wide strip of ground turned down to mineral soil of sufficient width to prevent sparks and windborn debris from being carried to fuels on the other side.
That canal has lots of fuel in it that the fire can travel on.
REPLY: Well you are only seeing part of it in the photo, the other side is rip-rapped and the base is bedrock.

June 13, 2008 10:08 am

Canals are less effective than they look because embers can travel further because they have further to fall. Thus a canal with a ten foot drop on either side with a 30 foot bare strip is really a ten foot fire break.
That picture shows that the canal has heavier ladder fuels as well greatly increasing the the production of embers, the heat of the fire, and its duration.
The side of the canal facing the fire will have time to dry out and heat up, pushing the probability of ignition to certainty if and when an ember makes it across.
If someone showed up with a dozer or disc and opened up a dirt strip on both sides and put some fire crews on it, then they would have a chance.
The IC may just decide to firebreak the residences though, depending on his resources.
I know that I would be discing around my site if I saw a fire. I keep a disc hooked up to my tractor during high fire danger at my place for this reason.

June 13, 2008 3:42 pm

I’m lucky I live in south western Ontario (Canada) where we don’t suffer from wildfires.
Keep safe Anthony.

June 14, 2008 7:19 am

Are they using planes to drop the orange stuff on the fire?
The reason I ask, there was a recent court ruling against the EPA, trumpetted in the Bee as a defeat of the Bush administration on environmental issues, that banned the use of chemical fire retardant for fighting forest fires. I’m wondering if they were serious, or if that was just a localized ruling , not applicable to the whole country (it originated in an Idaho court.)
REPLY: They have a DC10 converted ti fire bomber that they are flying out of Mather. Lots of choppers with water bags too. Looks like the got the upper hand overnight.

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