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California Is Burning!
Bucket Brigade Forms at My House!

 10:05 am on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Once again California is on fire. Couple a times a year we have hot, dry desert winds start to blow in from the east. They call them Santana Winds or Devil Winds.

As soon as this happens all the crazies and the fire bugs come out and start setting fires in the dry brush in the foot hills.There is a scrub brush called Grease Wood that burns like mad. So far they have lost about 100 homes and a lot of out buildings. Sky is dark grey with smoke and your eyes smart & redden if you have to go out in it.

There is not enough firemen and equipment to cover all the hot spots. Drop planes and helicopters have been of limited use due to high winds. Eventually the fire fighters get the upper hand as the fuel for the fire is consumed.

No we don't have hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. Our plague of locusts are fires, mud slides and earthquakes!...KF

[edited by: engine at 11:12 am (utc) on Oct. 23, 2007]
[edit reason] formatting [/edit]



 10:19 am on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

This must be a terrible thing to experience if you are near the fires. I really feel for those who lose their homes. While it probably could not happen here in Scotland if it did I would lose not only my home but my business and this must also be happening to some people over there.

The people who set these fires should be guilty of a capital offence.

[edited by: BeeDeeDubbleU at 10:20 am (utc) on Oct. 23, 2007]


 10:36 am on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks Bee Dee, I am closer to the ocean and the fires are probably 15 to 20 miles inland in a low range of hills so me and my property are in no danger.

Most of the house are burnt down to foundation. As the old saying goes " they managed to save the lot and the well!" It is a terrible loss to people especially when they lose a lifetime of mementos and photos etc.

Thanks for caring!...KF

[edited by: engine at 11:13 am (utc) on Oct. 23, 2007]
[edit reason] formatting [/edit]

Petra Kaiser

 10:40 am on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Seen on the news this morning, but very depressing comments by B. Spears and J.Travolta are treated more important in our country than the real story, thanks for sharing backgrounds.


 11:01 am on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm only a couple of miles north of where the canyon road is closed off to traffic.


 12:54 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Oh it's bad, really bad. The worst in California history. Over 500 homes and 100 businesses burned to the ground in San Diego as of this date. 250,000 people are affected right now in San Diego.

I'm about 10 miles North of where some of the bigger fires are. The sky is full of smoke, there are orange glows everywhere. Winds are kicking up to 60MPH in certain areas. They've been clocked at over 100MPH. These Santa Ana winds can be as damaging as hurricane winds. You look at the freeways and there are Semi-Trucks laying on their sides because they were blown over.

Air quality is probably at its worse ever. Many people have to wear surgical masks to go outside, it is that thick with ash and other debris. Us Californians are definitely in for a rough ride here in the near future. The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for "all of Southern California" and when all this is over with, that's when the reality of it all will really sink in. I'm saddened for those who are watching their lives go up in flames.

There was a comment yesterday from a Fire Captain and he said...

"There are more homes burning than we have fire engines and firemen".

I've had the news on since yesterday morning and am keeping in tune with everything that is going on. Night before last I was able to see flames coming up over the mountains and it was a scary sight. I'm prepared if I have to go.

They just said on the news that the amount of land burning in California is equivalent to a small state.

2007-10-23 at 0605 - The President has just declared a Federal Emergency for Southern California.

2007-10-23 at 0615 - 384 square miles of land now on fire.

2007-10-23 at 0645 - Mandatory evacuation just issued for 3,800 homes in San Diego. One of their major fires just jumped into the largest wooded area in their area.


 1:55 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

It is because of you guys only I felt what is happening is a real disaster. Remote news is remote if you are not attached to it personally.

Hoping this is going to end soon for you guys.



 2:21 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wow Pageone... really makes the situation real to me. In Kansas we have no concept of wildfires beyond a field burning on accident. (not trying to be flippant, that's the way it is) Our natural disasters are over in a few minutes... nothing like the whole area being destroyed over days. I can't imagine the stress and fear of seeing the flames creeping towards your community threatening to destroy everything.

SOCal will be in my prayers. Be smart guys... don't stick around too long.


 2:47 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Personally, I'm not at much risk due to my location. If the fire makes it this far, we are in really, really big trouble.

As I watch the news now, things seem to be calming down a bit. That's because the winds are at a lull right now. The day is just beginning as far as the Santa Ana winds go.

The recent numbers show that over 300,000 people have been given mandatory evacuation orders. The number of homes destroyed in San Diego has now crossed the 600+ mark. Now that the sun is up, the counts will become more accurate. We're fortunate in that the loss of life is minimal.

Its what comes after all this is over with. That's going to be the tough part.

Over 6,000 firefighters involved. They've called in fire teams from Arizona to assist. Last I heard we are at about 30% contained. But, that varies on which of the many fires you are tracking. In one fire, they are only 5% contained.

Today is supposed to be the last day of the Santa Anas. They should die down around 1430/1500 today. Its the time between now and then that is critical. When you have winds blowing embers upwards of 2-3 miles and starting other fires, it becomes a major challenge.


 2:50 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wow...I just can't even imagine what the people of soCal are going through.

As others have said, the thought of having to watch something creep ever closer to your home is a chilling though indeed.

All those affected will be in my thoughts and prayers.


 3:07 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

For those following along, just to give some perspective. The amount of area that has burned in Calfornia as of this date and time from the 10 major fires that are currently burning is equivalent to the size of the City of Chicago.

Watching the weather right now, we are going to have triple digit temps in some areas. Add that to the bucketfull of rain we've had this year and it makes for the "Perfect Storm" as the Governor put it yesterday. We've had 1/5th the rainfall we should have for the year. Things are so dry, you can almost taste the dryness in the air.

Ten (10) major fires burning as of this moment. Mandatory evacuations still being issued for many in Southern California. Major roads closed. Residents refusing to leave their homes with fire licking at their back yards. They are actually standing out there with garden hoses trying to fend off flames that are 10, 15. 20 feet in height blowing around at 15, 20, 30MPH.

Let's remember, its only property, it can be replaced. If you're in Southern California and have been issued mandatory evacuation orders, then obey them. If you're in any of the Canyons, you are most likely under some sort of evacuation order.

I'm watching scenes from a helicopter recorded earlier. I'm not sure exactly where that chopper is, but they are doing a 360 pan and you can see many of the fires clearly. It's like we are surrounded by flames.

If you wish to follow what is happening, I'm watching abc7 here in Orange County.

abc7.com: Eyewitness News for Los Angeles and Southern California


 3:32 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

And it's going to get even worse- the President is sending the head of FEMA to California!

I live about 10 miles from the Malibu fire (upwind, luckily). My parents live about 5 miles from the Canyon Country fire (I was up there for the weekend and left about an hour before the fire started in Agua Dulce), and their office is about 3 miles from the Stevenson Ranch fire.


 3:42 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

The count is now over 1,000 homes and businesses in San Diego alone that have been destroyed.

What makes this even worse is those same residents in San Diego went through something similar in 2003. They are not new to this. We live in a state that is prone to many natural disasters with fire being at the top of the list. And then when it rains (which these days is rare), we have mud slides. And inbetween all of that, we have a few earthquakes here and there on a daily basis. And then a big one every now and then.

I am very thankful that we have all the people involved who are bravely fighting these fires. Those guys/gals are awesome. To stand there in a full body heat suit with flames all around you, I say Kudos to you!

2007-10-23 at 0850 - "This is the largest evacuation in California history."


 4:00 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ditto kudos to the fire fighters! Several years ago during a fire when my parents had to evacuate (no homes were destroyed), the local community held a huge thank-you picnic for the local fire house several weeks afterwards. Unfortunately, they weren't able to adequately thank the fire fighters that came in to help from other areas, nor the Sheriffs who did an excellent job going through the neighborhood to alert people (and to watch over the area to prevent looters during the evacuation). However, several house had huge "Thank You" banners displayed for weeks, and we heard that the local fire house took pictures and forwarded them to the other stations that helped.


 4:18 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

2007-10-23 at 0913 - The two major fires in San Diego have just merged (Witch Fire and Harris Fire). Twelve square miles have now been scorched in that particular area. Zero containment at this point.

These are areas where most of the wealth is in Southern California. Country clubs, million dollar homes, etc. You watch the live reports and you see these plumes of black smoke. Each time one occurs, you know another home just went up in flames. This is really heart-breaking and saddening.

I know one of our members WebGuerrilla was given mandatory evactuation orders yesterday. He is north of Los Angeles where one of the other major fires are.



 5:36 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

2007-10-23 at 1030 - Of the ten (10) major fires burning in Southern California, we have the Running Springs Fire. Last night it was approximately 1,500 acres burning. As of a few moments ago, it is now 4,000+ acres burning. 108 homes in the Running Springs area have been lost to fire.

The reports are continuously coming in and the numbers are increasing as each report is confirmed and then confirmed again.

Can you believe that part of this is due to the...

Southern California Beetle Infestation

Years of severe drought have left the forests of San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties in Southern California significantly stressed and vulnerable to a bark beetle infestation that has created millions of dead and dying trees. The latest aerial surveys estimate that over two-thirds of the Southern California forests have suffered above normal tree mortality due to drought and insects.

Bark Beetles of the Southern California Forests

The bark beetle killed trees reduce the overall fuel moisture in areas where large numbers of dead trees stand. The dead, dry trees burn faster and hotter than living trees within any given stand.

If you look at the maps of where infestation of the Bark Beetle is heavy, they are some of the same areas that are burning right now.

The fires we are experiencing now were predicted in 2003 forward. Nature has been extremely busy these past 12 months in all parts of the world.


 9:24 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

2007-10-23 at 1417 - Its getting worse in some areas and better in others. And, the one that is burning within miles of where I'm at (the Santiago Fire) is confirmed to have been arson. Can you believe that?

From the California Office of Emergency Services

This covers all of the California Wildfires, there are ten (10) of them at the moment.

  • 294,534 Acres Burned as of 2007-10-23 at 14:17
  • 1000+ Homes Destroyed
  • 68,550 Homes Threatened
  • 102 Commercial Buildings Destroyed
  • 321,000 People Evacuated
  • 11,000-12,000 People in Shelters

The numbers are expected to increase as we continue through the week. Latest reports state that it could be 5-14 days before this is fully contained barring any further acts of nature.


 9:38 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WG is back home and safe at the moment.

My family is part of the 500k+ that are still evacuated in San Diego County. We left town yesterday morning and expect to be gone at least until Friday.

The best source of info for San Diego online is [sosdfireblog.blogspot.com...]

The maps that show the fires in the County is like looking at an invading army driving the entire County into the sea.

[edited by: tedster at 6:02 pm (utc) on Oct. 24, 2007]
[edit reason] fixed link [/edit]


 11:19 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

2007-10-24 at 0415 - Well, we are now into day 4 of the California Wildfires and the situation continues to worsen. Fires are joining one another and creating fire lines that are just too much for the existing resources to handle. If you watch from above, its almost like the fires are starting in the middle of the state and working their way towards the coast. Anything inbetween is destroyed.

We literally have "Fire Storms" taking place. There are "Fire Tornados" that rip across the land and destroy everything in their path. We have winds blowing embers miles away and starting new fires.

Its really difficult for me to fathom what many are going through right now in Southern California. I'm about 5 miles from one of the larger fires in Irvine (the Santiago Fire) and its a worrisome sight to see flames coming up over the top of the mountains. These are the same areas where I go for evening drives.

They say now over 600 square miles (almost twice as much as yesterday) have been burned. Over 500,000 people evacuated. And with all this happening, there are people complaining about the response efforts. I sit here and think, how do you prepare and respond to something of this magnitude? On day 2, there were more homes on fire than there were fire trucks and personnel to deal with them. We are now on day 4 and the situation is thrice as bad.

We're fortunate in that the Santa Ana Winds have simmered down. Today is the "Transition Day" as they call it. Now we have to sit and hope that the weather remains dry for a bit while things are cleaned up. The worst thing that could happen now would be rain. Even though we desparately need it, we surely don't want it now. When it rains after a major fire, we usually have mud slides to deal with. Not only that, but the runoff from the mountains is so toxic, it gets pretty nasty around here.

2007-10-24 at 0425 - They've closed the 5 Freeway around Camp Pendleton as the fire has crossed the freeway.


 5:26 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

there are people complaining about the response efforts.

Heard something about that this morning on the way to work. Apparently, Orange County (which is one of the richer counties in the state) lags way behind L.A., San Diego, and other nearby counties in terms of the fire fighting equipment they own. The main comparison I remember is O.C.'s 2 Vietnam-era Huey helicopters compared to L.A. County's 7 (or 9) modern helicopters. Numbers of bulldozers, fire fighting teams, and other resources were similarly way behind.

In terms of assistance from the state, resources are allocated based on priority, with highest priority going to structures in danger. Apparently, at the time of the request by O.C., no structures were in immediate danger, so the resources were initially allocated to those areas that were deemed in higher danger for structures.

Again, this was from talk radio, so the actual numbers/events may not be entirely correct. But hopefully O.C. (and other areas) will upgrade and expand their resources. From what I understand, San Diego learned a big lesson from their previous fire experience and the reverse-911 worked very well, despite being online for only a month (other than the fact that publicity about it was sparse and a lot of people didn't know about it, especially that they could register cell phones).

With the Santa Anas dying down, it looks like a lot of the L.A. county fires are being mostly contained, so hopefully a lot of those resources can be shifted down south to O.C.

I'll second the comment that for those of you not here, you have no concept of what it's like. Despite the horrendous conditions, the firefighters have been doing a tremendous job. The incrediblly low number of fatalities and casualties so far is remarkable, especially considering the conditions. Again, major kudos for the brave men and women!


 5:39 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Life in Asia and Page One results, Thanks guys for all your complete updates
and concise commentaries.

As a fellow Southern California resident I got more info. from you guys than
the TV and Newspapers.

You both should be stringers for the LA Times and the Orange County Register.

Thanks again for a job well done!...KF


 5:43 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't think we're getting our information from any sources that the newspapers don't have access to. Besides, if I worked for a newspaper, I'd just waste all my time playing on the Internet. :)


 6:36 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

KF, same here. But, I am reporting live. I'm currently multi-tasking and keeping up to the minute with the current status of the fires.

2007-10-24 at 1110 - It is being reported that the damages in San Diego County alone at this date and time are in excess of $1 billion US dollars.

Parts of our Marine Corp base in San Diego are now on fire, Camp Pendleton. The major artery connecting the south is now closed, the 5 Freeway. The fires are burning from Temecula to the Mexico border, that's about 75 miles of fire line. That's just the fires south of Los Angeles. We also have fires north of Los Angeles and into the Mountains.

There are a plethora of small communities that have been destroyed throughout the canyons and continue to be destroyed. We have resources here from all of the Western United States and from New York. The President has upgraded the status here in California to a "Major Disaster".

Unfortunately this is just the beginning of a long recovery process. While we are mostly focused on what is happening now, the after effects of all this are even more concerning. Our coastal areas rely on tourism and local residents heavily. Our oceans are going to be affected for some time after this. I'm not sure on what scale, but I know from previous fires that the runoff that comes out of the mountains and into the Pacific Ocean after a fire is very harzardous to one's health.

I don't even want to think about what those 500,000 displaced residents are going to do. Our insurance industry is already stressed, this is sure to cripple quite a few after the dust settles.

Memories have been lost. Possessions have been destroyed. But, we are fortunate in that the loss of life has been very minimal. The real effects of all this will come from a psychological standpoint. And you know what, Californians seem to be resilient to acts of nature. We'll get through all of this.

2007-10-24 at 1130 - San Bernardino National Forest is engulfed in flames (between Running Springs and Snow Valley). The fire line is steadly moving towards Highway 18 and that is a major artery connecting many people to the rest of us down here.

They are talking about the after effects of this right now. That entire area will be prone to rock slides, mud slides and all sorts of other issues.

Oh-oh, here we go again, black plumes of smoke popping up all over the place, bummer... :(

And, all the conspiracy theories are now surfacing. They've already arrested one 48 year old male from Hesperia who was starting a fire on the side of a road. They are now classifying him as a "Person of Interest". The fire burning just south of me in Irvine has been confirmed as arson. It does make you wonder...


 6:57 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

The link may get nixed, but this is an old haunt of mine, Fallbrook, several miles inland from Oceanside:


Looks like Fallbrook is about to go too.


 7:27 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

POR brings up an excellent point (as usual) in that it's not thus the fires themselves that are the problem. The fires have burned all the plants that keep the soil in place when it rains. All these fires have been along mountains and canyons, which are steep and will have major mudslides when the rainy saeson begins. And it will take at least 1-2 years for most areas to recover sufficiently that mud slides won't be an issue every rainy season.

And it's not just a few random spots in sparsely populated areas. These are major metropolitan areas that are home to millions of people and near major transportation arteries used by millions of commuters and commercial truckers. All of which will probably be seriously affected by mud slides for the next 1-2 years at least. To give outsiders some idea, the 5 freeway (affected by the fires at Camp Pendleton near San Diego and Castaic north of L.A.) is *THE* transportation artery between Mexico-Los Angeles-all points north. (The "alternative" for Los Angeles going north is the 101, which is already the most congested highway in the country. The "alternative" for Mexico to Los Angeles is the 15, which will also likely be affected.) Pacific Coast Hwy. (Rte. 1) going through Malibu will likely have mud slide problems as well- it often does every year without any help from fire-induced super erosion, which will dump even more people on the 101, if they decide to go that way-out-of-the-way route. This doesn't just affect the daily commutes of millions of people, but also the road transportation of billions of dollars of goods that flow into the country's largest ports of L.A. & Long Beach and get shipped everywhere else. Not to mention perishable goods that are shipped into the area through those arteries.

And yes, tourism will be seriously affected. So far, most major landmark buildings seem to have been spared- not sure if there was damage to the San Diego WIld Animal Park or if they just evacuated the animals as a recaution. But the black scars on the landscape will be around for a good 1-3 years.

Perhaps this will be a minor shot in the arm for the housing industry as 1,000+ and counting families have potentially just been added to the home buyers pool. (Then again, it may also scare away a lot of previously potential buyers in fire ravished areas.) And the demand for housing repairs will skyrocket short-term. But it's definitely going to hurt the insurance industry. Which will in turn eventually be shouldered by other policy holders. Perhaps it might even bail out a few people who were close to foreclosure, assuming their insurance will pay close to their outstanding mortgage(s).

And all the smoke and soot will play havoc on the environment. The air quality will be poor for weeks to months, especially the further inland you go. Runoff will eventually dump a lot of the soot into the ocean and lakes, hurting water quality and affecting fishes and other animals.

And this is after just a few days of fires. SOme of the fires will continue to burn for many more days and weeks. And fire season isn't anywhere near over yet.


 9:11 pm on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

2007-10-25 at 1400 - We are still burning. 486,000 acres to date. More than 25% of San Diego County has burned. President Bush has declared a major disaster for seven (07) counties.

The weather has changed considerably and that has helped quite a bit. But, we've got some major fire lines out there that are still at zero containment. There is a town in the San Bernardino mountains called Running Springs that is now surrounded on three sides by fire.

The air here is terrible. It's raining ash. There is this orange glow around the sun and this ugly haze everywhere.

They are predicting containment on all fires within 5-14 days. But again, that takes into consideration that weather conditions remain positive.


 5:06 am on Oct 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Are the fires over? I don't catch it on the news anymore and wondered what its doing now. My heart goes out to all those involved, both victims and those fighting it.



 5:40 am on Oct 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ann, Pretty much all over now except for some mopping up.

Winds have died down and the humidity is up, some small showers here and there.

Now we start a new cycle, brush grows back, people rebuild, 3 or 4 years down the road it will happen all again. It seems we never learn. Details at eleven.



 11:03 pm on Oct 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks KF,

at least it is near an end.


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