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October 28, 2003

Southern California is on fire. I drove through it on Sunday. They closed down the freeway (I15) and all the highways around it, so I got to take a 3-hour detour to get back on the freeway. It was an inconvenience, but it's nothing compared to what some of the people over there have lost. I remember there being very strong winds (60+mph) and lots and lots of smoke. There was smoke everywhere, and it even blotted out the sun in some areas. I saw a satellite photo and the smoke plumes went 20+ miles out over the Pacific. It was incredible and very unfortunate for the 14 or so people that have lost their lives, and the residents of the hundreds of houses lost. Check out the pictures below. On the left shows a neighborhood near San Diego after a fire there; click on it for a larger image. The trees are there, but several houses just simply vanished while others nearby weren't even touched. The photo on the right is a satellite picture showing smoke blowing out over the ocean for miles and miles. Unbelievable.
28fire.jpg fire-sat.jpg
Note: The picture on the left, along with its big brother, were taken from this article in the NY Times. The one the right was taken from this article in the Deseret Morning News.

Posted by charr at 8:14 AM
Reader Comments

That is a really strange picture. It looks like they were chosen and zapped by alien guns or something. Very eerie.

Posted by carlene at October 28, 2003 9:36 AM

To make things more eerie, I just got an email from a friend I've known for several years (who's from that area) who I wrote yesterday. I'll post part of it here:
"...Life has been insane the last couple of days. I'm from the San Bernardino Mountains....the mountain that is completely on well as the rest of the mountain. My family has been evacuated to my aunt's house in Yucaipa. (my brothers and their families and my grandma and mom) My dad is still on the mountain because all of the fire chiefs have been deployed to other areas and since my dad is the general manager of arrowbear fire and water departments he's acting as fire chief right now. He said yesterday that things aren't good and that we will probably lose our house either today or tomorrow unless something else changes.

the thing that I'm grateful for is that my family is off the mountain and safe for right now. The rest of it is just stuff. They were able to get a few things out of the house like paintings and pictures and journals. My dad and I may lose our yearbooks. But I'm really okay with that. it's sad. But really, my family is
alive and safe. that's what matters..."

Posted by Cameron at October 28, 2003 10:16 AM

That is so strange that the trees weren't touched. I heard an interview with a firefighter on the radio this morning about the last fires in California. He said that trees will explode before the fire even gets to them because of the heat. Kinda strange that the houses went first.

Posted by Jan at October 28, 2003 11:10 AM

Jan, the TV news explained that houses go up when burning embers fly thru the air and land on a roof. This explains the hopscotch pattern of burnt vs. OK homes in a neighborhood (well, not in that picture where all of the homes burnt). New houses in these fire areas are built with tile roofs so they won't ignite.
Today, one of the local news crews left their TV van parked on the side of a mtn road and it caught fire! They had waited there too long to catch a shot of the flames coming over a ridge. They escaped OK. A lot of the local live TV coverage is really amazing.
It's smoky even in the city. My nose has been running all day because of it (ick). The firefighters really can't get control of it since it's grown so large. More and more communities in the mtns and also new developments on the edge of the mtns are being burned to the ground! It's really a huge disaster. I don't think the national news coverage has done the situation justice yet.

Posted by Ellen at October 28, 2003 6:04 PM

Well, that explains it. It's still pretty creepy.

Posted by Jan at October 29, 2003 5:36 AM

From this article, the latest stats are as follows:
The toll from more than five days of burning from Ventura County to the Mexican border was staggering. By Tuesday nine major fires in five counties had scorched more than 550,000 acres, destroyed about 2,000 homes and other buildings and been blamed for 16 deaths.

Only two of the fires were said to be contained. State officials estimated the cost at nearly $2 billion.

Posted by Cameron at October 29, 2003 8:35 AM

Today, (Wed) the temp. has dropped a lot and the Santa Ana winds are over so the fire should really die down, although I've heard it's still predicted to be a bad fire day in San Diego. About 10 people died there in their cars because they didn't evacuate early enough - that would be horrible.
Part of the controversy about the fires burning in the resort towns in the mtns north of LA is that about half the trees up there are dead and dry. A bark beetle killed off a lot of trees but no one could decide on a plan to cut down the dead trees. The state couldn't afford to pay for it and I guess the Feds didn't want to either. It was left up to the homeowners to pay to have dead trees on their property cut down (maybe $1,000 for a few trees) and no one went into the national forest lands and culled these trees. It was very easy for them to catch fire and burn.

Posted by Ellen at October 29, 2003 10:00 AM

This whole thing is incredible, and really scary. I know a lot of people from my mission who live in a lot of those areas, and it really scares me.

Posted by carlene at October 29, 2003 10:41 AM

Wow, I can't even imagine what those homeowners are going through. Everything you own completely gone. I wonder if they were forced out of their homes when the fire came through or if they were allowed to stay and try to fight the fire.

Posted by jason at October 30, 2003 1:40 PM

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