It just seems so weird to me that the California fires that killed who know how many (but maybe thousands) is not a bigger story. Is this the east coast news media bias? I don’t understand it.
BTW, after the LA Times unionized I bought a subscription, and their coverage has been amazing:
Before there was a spark, there was the wind.
On the morning of Nov. 8, as the sun rose over the isolated mountains in the Sierra Nevada, gale-force winds tore through the canyon. A fire outpost on the Feather River recorded blasts of 52 mph — a bad omen in a national forest that hadn’t had a satisfying rain since May.
From his station bunk at the head of Jarbo Gap, Capt. Matt McKenzie of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection woke to the sound of pine needles pelting the roof.
At 6:15 a.m., a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. high-voltage line near the Poe Dam generating station six miles away malfunctioned. A report of fire came at 6:29.
The story is riveting, but more so horrifying because we know what happened next.
Why didn’t that guy get busy raking?
@Corner Stone: Even more than that, why didn’t the stupid Democrats in charge of CA stop the wind???
The best climate.
A town wiped off the map.
Last time this happened in the USA?
Katrina is your comparative natural disaster.
Rake America Great Again
You’re right Cole, that is some amazing story telling.
That second “Everywhere” says it all.
@Yarrow: Hi is a sociopath. He doesn’t have feelings that normal people have.
Formerly disgruntled in Oregon
Northern California currently has some of the worst air quality in the world. More people will be dying from complications due to the smoke. It’s a big F problem.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@MobiusKlein: I thought about Katrina when I heard reporters talking about how many people had been left homeless by the fire. They said many of the people in Paradise weren’t particularly well-off and speculated they might have to leave because they couldn’t afford to rebuild and CA house is expensive (though I’m not sure if that’s true where the Paradise fire is). Anyway, I believe a lot of folks from NOLA wound up in Texas.
A Ghost To Most
My wife commented (again) about what Homers the East Coast talking heads are.
@Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:
On twitter this AM some “liberal” was saying Pelosi’s inaction on this air quality was proof she needed to go
Thank Pasta I was separated from this ass by the Internet
News, as we once knew it, is dead. It has become an income generator which is also designed to keep the masses angry and confused.
Just as our talking heads shows are 90% Republican lies and our poltical reporting is strategy and “bothsides” without so much as a paragraph about what all these policies actually DO.
@Dorothy A. Winsor:
Where, o where is the poet of our times who can fill the aching void caused by Barbara Bush’s passing? Who can craft the needed words of empathy and understanding that flowed effortlessly from her to others?
Formerly disgruntled in Oregon
@Schlemazel: Government, how does it work?
My buddy has lived there for 42 years and his place is gone. He got out with his wife and pets but I don’t think much more. He was a grunt with the 101st so he’s probably seen worse but not by much.
It’s a story of incompetence and malfeasance on the part of PG&E, but for some reason the MSM finds that boring and would rather blame all Californians for the fires. ?
@Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:
with the addition of serval obscenities that is pretty much what I asked him
@Corner Stone: Where the hell did Trump get the “rake the forests” foolishness from in the first place? He is dangerously dumb and has no filter or self awareness. This is why you don’t elect a know nothing dummy to the most powerful position in the world.
From someone living on the Gulf Coast, only until relatively recently has it gotten through that this one is worse than any other year. There’s also the general bias towards assuming that LA/NYC stories are magnified given the reporters’ proximity.
And insanely dry, hot, windy weather. Plus November is when fire season used to be well done & finished.
This is why Republicans want to destroy regulation. Once upon a time, the three networks HAD TO perform public service. They weren’t allowed to just make up the news.
And when they no longer have to do it… they do not.
I read that hair furor twice refered to Paradise, CA as “Pleasure”
My dad had a stroke at 82 and still had better mental abilities that this tangerine turd
Apparently it’s something Finland, a very forested country, does. Of course, their climate is cold and wet and their forests have much less biodensity and are basically nothing like California.
@WaterGirl: Nobody tell this story to Trump. Apparently, being a good guy with a rake wasn’t enough.
I have no complaints about the news coverage. FTFNYT, WaPo, and the New Yorker have daily updates as well as on-the-ground features, LA Times being in the middle of it is brilliant, and I’m seeing at least one daily update on TV nooz (local CBS affiliate, CBS am), and even the Beeb has something each day. The hilarity yesterday is producing ripostes from Finland today. That said, because all of my family except Dad is on the west coast, I am looking a little harder than usual, but 1K folk missing is a major story, period. My 88 year old auntie, the Terror of Colorado Blvd (seriously, she just renewed her driver license), informs me that a distant cousin and his wife lived in Paradise and were able to evacuate just barely in time. 2 cars stuffed with stuff and animals, on two-lane roads, directed at a major Fork in the road to go in opposite directions and so they did, eventually meeting up in a safe zone and marveling at their good fortune. They’re in their 70s and so far haven’t decided what to do–but not try to return. Paradise itself, from what I’ve read, wasn’t at all a wealthy area, and a sizeable proportion of the population was retirees on fixed incomes. How that becomes a rebuilding situation I don’t know, but has anyone taken a look at Panama City recently?
Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Florida again, California…the sites of so many natural disasters, yet they appear in news cycles only long enough to show the disaster and interview the numb survivors and ask how they feel. Then it’s off to the next tragedy.
I know that “if it bleeds, it leads” but we are in the age of instant reporting and our access to media resources still does allow us to review and check back on events of this magnitude. Tent cities are now SOP in this country, whether they are there for immigrants or fire survivors or flood victims. So many of the population have lost their homes. We have no idea where this leads.
It’s hundreds missing and possibly dead, not thousands. Stlll really horrifying. Usually in this kind of situation almost everybody turns up but the hair-raising escape stories make me worry this will be one of the exceptions.
Villago Delenda Est
The motherfucking Village needs to be burned to the ground.
One of the managers at work is from Paradise, and he said last week every school he attended was gone. His uncle was also missing so report was filed. I don’t know current status.
While Trump & Co have been busy dividing the country the Calif fires brought out engine companies from 17+ states, many of them Red to travel to Calif to fight the fires. The firefighters were met along the way with cheers and thumbs up as they drove along the freeways and through small towns and you tubes showed the engines with slogans like, ‘hang in there California, Texas is coming to help’. Once again, first responders are the ones crashing the gates of political tribalism.
Then there’s Trump’s commentary about how great Finland is in raking their forests so they don’t have wildfires. Finland? Isn’t that a socialist country? Mmm. Does Trump not recognize the difference between a Calif drought, high temps, a hurricane force hot wind system and a country that has none of the above?
I do love the new meme though, ‘rake America great again’.
Villago Delenda Est
@Mnemosyne: Large corporations are never responsible for their actions. Governments, especially those dominated by Democrats, are on the other hand responsible for eveything.
Great repurposing of the lyric snippet!
I wonder if Trump knows what a rake really looks like. I’m sure he understands rackets. From all available evidence, he can appreciate racks (he’s quite the billiard person, not referencing Stormy here).
The closest he’s ever been to a rake is when he gets bunkered on the course (and that’s why Caddie’s were invented, so you don’t have to touch the thing).
Rake the forest. Unbelievable.
Heard this morning that Shitgibbon met with some of the survivors of the Thousand Oaks shooting- and of course had to comment afterward that one of them was his “supporter” wearing MAGA gear of some kind. Always has to make it about him, always.
@Frankensteinbeck: The President of Finland has already said that he said nothing of the sort to Trump. They have also said that no one in Finland rakes the forest so apparently Trump got the idea from the Tribble that lives on his head.
??? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ??
I know, right? I’m sure if Trump hadn’t had to make nicey-nice with inferior foreigners, would have been able to put out the fire with his manliness //s
I read somewhere (maybe BJ?) that PG&E had known for some time that the box was sparking.
How about, if this is true, a charge of negligent homicide against someone?
Raking a boundary is a great step in creating a defensible area. You can’t rake a 100 foot ring around every single town in the West. And 50 MPH winds still laugh at your raked zone.
Again, everything Trump says is a damned lie, or worse.
Guessing you have to go back to the Great SF Earthquake for a deadlier NorCal disaster, given the Camp Fire confirmed dead have surpassed the Loma Prieta Quake. And my god, the housing lost is approaching ten-thousand units. Neither Butte County nor the adjacent counties can absorb the now-homeless population–Paradise, CA as it was known is forever gone and I’ll be surprised if whatever sprouts there is ever a tenth of the former size. The population skewed very old and there’s no employment base for an influx of working folks. This will de-populate the county significantly.
The smoke has affected millions and they don’t yet know what it’s composed of–surely a toxic stew compared to a “simple” forest fire. I do not recommend the experience of inhaling AQI 400 air, having now done so.
Yes, the weather conditions were ripe for a fire, which is why PG&E was supposed to cut off power to the lines they were working on.
But they didn’t.
It’s okay, though — I’m sure their accountants are busy transferring all of their profits to their parent company so they can plead poverty when the victims who lost everything thanks to their negligence try to sue them.
??? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ??
It reminds me superficially of Pompeii; an entire city wiped away. Heartbreaking for those dead and those who have lost their homes
@MobiusKlein: Somewhere I read the figure 33 million acres (burned? of forest under management? under threat for these two fires?).
That’s 1/10th of an acre for every man, woman and child in the country. Including those of us who live in apartments and gave away all our rakes with glee.
Of course Trump thinks it’s doable.
The joy of being a corporation is you can’t criminally charge a corporation. Their asses will still be in a ginormous liability and regulatory sling; hopefully the PUC has cleaned house of the wink-and-a-nod industry insiders who have historically helped them avoid past enforcement. I suspect incoming Gov Gav will be after them with a large…rake?
Wait, aren’t corporations people too? Do I misremember that?
Sister Golden Bear
As far as the East Coast news media is concerned, the “Left Coast” (hate that term, no one here uses it), barely exists.
Except when the benighted FTFNYT comes to LA and discovers that there’s a vibrant theater scene — LA has lots of actors, who knew? Or that it’s got a dance scene. Or that most people in LA don’t work in Hollywood. Or that traditional immigrant communities have amazing bakeries doing great things with bread. (I wish I was snarking about all of those…)
Still waiting for all those stories where reporters hang out at Starbucks in Orange County to talk with voters who swung the election.
And, why yes, breathing toxic air for the last week is making me cranky….
@??? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ??: I’d like to put out the fire with his manliness.
You know Trump’s style of ignorance. Someone said something that sounded enough like ‘Finland prevents forest fires by raking the ground’, and it fit all his prejudices, including that what he assumes are white people have solved the problem a state full of brown people can’t. So in his head it becomes unbudgeable truth.
Folks who own their dream Ten Acres with a House In the Middle are in fact advised by Cal Fire to create defensible space (100 feet I think) around the house and yes, rake needles and leave only bare land. How somebody living in a singlewide 10 feet from the next trailer is supposed to do that shall remain forever a mystery.
The high winds change the calculus regardless. Eyewitnesses report basketball-size fire bombs hurled ahead of the fire. Like a castle siege.
@Mnemosyne: For the argument that PG&E should have shut off power, I want to know that the conditions prior to the fire warranted turning off the power. Without knowing that the fire was going to start and be this bad.
Conditions are bad _everywhere_ in CA now – do we turn off the power to all of Butte County when the winds are 30 MPH there? Maybe now in CA, the electrical grid is incompatible with our climate, and we need to redo it all.
@MobiusKlein: Rakes don’t do it in California. The most dangerous material is brush and grass, not leaf litter. You have to clear aggressively and frequently to make an area fire-resistant. Additionally, the needed clearing creates ecological and landslide problems.
@The Dangerman: Oh, shit, Trump is going to use his knowledge of golf courses to claim to be an expert on raking. This will happen.
Something dimly comes to mind…and also, too, if the corporations were in charge all the trees would be “just the right height.”
PG&E just this year began a policy of strategically cutting power during red flag conditions and have done so precisely once. They considered, but declined to do so that Thursday.
@Patricia Kayden: He got it from the requirement to rake leaves around buildings down to mineral soil, and/or the fact that firefighters clear everything when initially making a fire break. Then, being an idiot with no sense of reality, he generalized without understanding the practical realities. When I lived in the mountains in CA it was a yearly ritual to clear around my cabin — but it was a lot of work and one can’t clear the whole forest that way.
@WaterGirl: he’s worse than a run of the mill sociopath. He’s a lazy, incurious, malicious, addled sociopath.
I guess the lazy, incurious and addled parts are the silver linings.??????
@MobiusKlein: My dad used to push dozer lines around Oregon wildfires in the 60’s and 70’s. Fire’s were in July or August. November? WTF? Back then a big fire was 50,000+ acres and took a couple weeks to control. Fatalities were very rare.
The old guys would tell stories of the Tillamook Burn 350,000 acres 1933. 190,000 acres within that reburned in 1939. A few old guys had been around the 1910 fires that burnt up 3 million acres in N Idaho and killed 87 people. There were big uncontrollable fires but decades apart.
Fires in Southern Oregon this year and last year reburned vast parts of the 500,000 acre 2002 Biscuit fire. The Biscuit fire reburned most of the 150,000 acre 1987 Silver fire. Big chunk of land has burned 3 times in 40 years. I don’t think fuel build up was the problem.
Climate change has lengthened the fire season by months. Climate change is stressing the vegetation with drought. Eventually drought resistant plant communities will take over. Until the transition completes it will burn.
West of the Rockies
I’m told that the high school is still standing. I graduated from PHS, class of ’80. Still, with no infrastructure, stores, etc., it is probably not going to resume “business” anytime soon.
@Sister Golden Bear:
Don’t look at LGM right now, then. They’re debating whether or not Malibu should be rebuilt even though the actual ongoing disaster is about 500 miles north of Malibu.
Heh. Planners have included golf courses as protective green spaces adjacent to rural housing developments. Trump, once again, is a geeeenius ahead of his time. How may ginormous wildfires has Scotland had since Trump built his courses there? QED, hippies!
@Corner Stone: I think I’ll quote Melania for this:
“I really don’t care, do you?”
@Fair Economist: The only way to prevent forest fires in California is to prevent forests. (and scrub brush, grass, and so on).
Fly up to Seattle over the Biscuit Fire was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. At 600 mph we were over it a good long while.
It’s cool. The Kardashans will give everybody their own tiny fire department, of the goodness of their hearts.
@Patricia Kayden: Finland, their forest management includes a sub artic climate, cool wet weather, tons of snow, and they clear dead trees, branches and rake dry debris off the forest floor.
Sister Golden Bear
@Dorothy A. Winsor: Paradise is mostly retirees on a fixed income. It’s comparatively inexpensive by California standards — meaning even the least expensive homes are probably more than the national average.
100-foot defensible spaces don’t mean shit when the fire is moving a football length per second, or when embers are being blown up to a mile ahead of the main fire, as they were in the Santa Rosa fire last year.
@pat: Unfortunately PG&E negligence being the cause of massive wildfires is a regular occurrence (not to mention blowing up the occasional neighborhood). Paying off the resulting lawsuits is apparently cheaper than doing the required maintenance, and those dividends to shareholders won’t pay themselves. I’d love to see some company executives get hit personally with criminal charges.
You seem to be slightly confused. The argument is not that PG&E should have arbitrarily cut off power on a windy day. The argument is that PG&E should have cut off power before doing work on a transformer in a forested area that they knew had a good chance of causing sparks.
This wasn’t an accident that no one could have foreseen, like a power line going down in high winds. This was criminal negligence on the part of PG&E, which allegedly has a policy saying they should switch off the power before working on the lines in high fire conditions but usually doesn’t bother to.
@trollhattan: When last year’s Eagle creek fire jumped the freakin’ COLUMBIA RIVER was one of my most surreal moments. I wasn’t anywhere nearby but I’m very familiar with the area and that’s a big river.
Years ago I lived on the east coast for two years. Basically the way the news media covered West coast news was as if all of the West coast was LA. I went to high school and college in northern California. So that but of East coast bias always made me angry. Not much has changed. The news is still dominated by the distorted east bias mega media.
This fire is a high disaster there are a hell of a lot of people still missing. h
The Orange fart is making this so much worse – victim blaming. This is what’s happening. Rake the forrest???
@Mnemosyne: Well, that is different for sure.
Sister Golden Bear
@Mnemosyne: In fairness, — although it sounds liker LGM commenters probably aren’t talking about it, lots of homes did get wiped out — and there’s been at least two (maybe three) massive fires in the Santa Monica mountains that only were stopped by the Pacific Ocean.
I know rich people want their views, and poorer people enjoy the rustic living, but at this point, it really should be off-limits to development for the most part. Or at an minimum, make it an official “un-insurance” zone — albeit that means firefighters will still have to rescue millionaires the next time it burns. But at least maybe it’ll make some of the pause twice before rebuilding.
This morning, NPR interviewed a paramedic who somehow managed to survive. His account is harrowing, to say the least.
@MobiusKlein: Mexico Beach. Don’t know how MB and Paradise compare in size.
Since Finland has been raking news in the context of forest management, they have a piece of advice to The Donald:
Also, too: Scroll down to the third Gif and check for proper raking action.
Liquidating the corporation won’t eliminate the need for a company to provide electric service. So, yeah.
But the management that didn’t do everything in its power to prevent this catastrophe needs to go. As long as managers get the rewards from penny pinching and cost-cutting at the expense of safety and reliability and suffer no consequences when those decisions costs billions of dollars and dozens or hundreds of lives, then nothing is going to change.
Replace the management, make the owners take a substantial haircut, institute new safety and reliability policies, and bail out the company (“lend freely at a penalty rate”). And work to reduce the amount of climate change going forward…
I live in the relatively flat center of the country, and if I had to leave town in case of disaster and one road was blocked, I could take secondary roads and even gravel roads and find my way out, most likely. Plus there aren’t as many of us clustered together. I have visited brothers in northern California and been stuck in traffic jams north of San Francisco. The problem is both the much greater concentration of people AND the fact that there’s usually only one way to get where you’re going when you head out of town. The mountains/hills and the bodies of water make the availability of secondary routes much more expensive and hence they don’t exist. If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t have been able to really picture how different it is to try to escape somewhere from any kind of natural disaster there.
@Sister Golden Bear:
I’m sorry, but that’s just cold.
What about hurricanes, etc.? Should we move the entire country to Kansas to be safe?
PG&E had better be held accountable and liable for this. I know they stated back before the fire had spread very far that they wouldn’t be able to cover their liability, but tough tits to them.
Being in the media and witnessing the priorities of the shits that write my paycheck, the news is you, John, and a handful of other unpaid left-of-center bloggers.
The modern US manstream media is one big necro orgy in search of the average morons’ bling.
The ski area on the OR/CA border that I used to get season passes to every year when a boy in the 1970s currently has zero snow on it. We used to consider a “good” year to be one that opened on Thanksgiving, a “bad” year to be one that opened Jan. 1, and decent skiing didn’t really start till the base hit 100 inches. It now doesn’t open at all many years and often only for a few weeks, like last year. They now ski on a 20-inch base by pushing snow around. Fires have grown enormously in size and intensity. (See above comment on Biscuit fire for example, just NW of the place I am talking about). I would not live in the town I grew up in now because it is built up the side of a mountain with large wooden houses cheek by jowl and in the steeper areas practically right on top of each other, with trees lots of foliage in between. The place is going to erupt in flames some night and at least hundreds will die. When I visit I am aghast that anyone can sleep soundly in those homes during the 8-month fire season.
Formerly disgruntled in Oregon
Newsome and the Dem majorities in the California leg. should seize control of PG&E. Force them to perform more safely. And transition to renewables ASAP.
I am not a socialist, but in these extraordinary circumstances (out of control fire danger caused by out of control greenhouse gas emissions), extraordinary actions are called for and justified.
Ugh. Any and every time something untoward happens PG&E, SoCal Edison, SDG&E’s first thought is “Protect shareholders; stick it to the ratepayers.” Private utilities are simply the worst.
Formerly disgruntled in Oregon
Why do we have private utilities again?
They’ll fire whatever hapless line supervisor or middle manager decided not to turn off the power before starting work on the transformer and then say the problem is solved. Can’t interrupt the profit-taking!
@Mnemosyne: and the supervisors that follow the fire safety shut off rules will get bad annual reviews
I only ask of my fellow Americans today that they take note of how Californians are dealing with this terrible catastrophe, that is, the very next time our state is gratuitously insulted by a republican bird brain. You won’t have to wait long.
(P.S. Send Rakes- repeat- Send Rakes)..
My parents (both age 84) live in the Paradise area (Magalia) further up the ridge and were not at home Thursday AM, thank goodness. Power outages aren’t unusual, and they ever would have known to get out until it was too late. Their house is standing, but they left that AM like it was an ordinary day. So, so grateful they currently don’t have any pets, because they wouldn’t have been able to retrieve them. They are waiting to be able to go back, which may happen soon. I don’t think they are prepared for the shock of what they will see as they drive in, or the fact that though their home and neighborhood seems normal, there is no normal anymore.
No one is surprised. The man lies more than he tells the truth.
@debbie: Well, it’s a live issue. For example, in areas that flood regularly, at some point homeowners should be bought out and development shouldn’t happen there again. How many massively disruptive floods need to happen to the same neighborhoods and houses before people decide maybe they shouldn’t live there? In the case of the parents of a friend of mine it was three floods with water three feet high in their house. They took the FEMA buyout after the third one.
Florida learned some lessons from hurricane Andrew and changed their building regulations to build houses that could withstand higher winds. Buildings in California have to meet more stringent earthquake regulations than they did 50 years ago. People learn from disasters and sometimes the lesson is it’s not advisable to live in some locations.
Climate change will be affecting many of those decisions going forward and human migration will increase as climate pressures do.
Same with the Columbia River Gorge fire. The air quality was pretty bad then too. That dumpster fire was caused by a group of teenagers and one in particular who set off a bottle rocket into a ravine.
There was also a fire that burned to the ocean in Malibu and took out a lot of pricey buildings – without even being a historically catastrophic fire like the one in Paradise. This is the third time in a half-century there has been major fire damage to multimillionaire beach houses in Malibu and I think it’s very valid to question whether we should continue providing public subsidies to rebuild them.
@Another Scott: yep.
The auto correcting feature of kindle tables certainly makes writing difficult. I’m blaming kindle for all the nonsense linked above.
And maybe also jail a couple of the big wigs.
Sister Golden Bear
@debbie: Some flood prone areas in the Midwest or South (don’t remember which) have been declared “no habitation” zones, and the homeowners bought out, because they flood so frequently. Here in the Bay Area (and on the East Coast) we’re already doing “managed retreat in the face of coastal erosion.
The ecology of the Santa Monica Mountain requires periodic fires as part of its natural cycle. It will burn again, and when it does the only thing stopping once again will be the Pacific Ocean (and I’m not kidding about that).
It’s not practical to withdrawal people from all fire-prone areas — including the length of the Western Sierras — but there’s some areas we should consider it.
@Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:
Because soshulizm makes Baby Jesus cry.
The Tribune Company (I refuse to use Tronc) nearly ran the LAT into the ground. It was saved by Patrick Soon-Shiong, a doctor who got obscenely rich in finance through his biotech fund, and like Bezos at WaPo, gave them capital and leaves the editorial side alone. He bought them a whole new campus and put money into it generally, and it gets better every week.
I fight the right wing takeover of media incursion by subscribing to independent news sources, Mother Jones, ProPublica, the LAT, the Nevada Indy run by Jon Ralston, and the Texas Tribune, which has done masterwork on border issues and the caged children. This battlefront is as important, or maybe more so, than the political arena, and instead of cancelling all my Doug J! donations, I’ve switched into this effort and the ACLU and voter access organizations.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@Yarrow: I heard a guy on the radio suggesting that CA’s building codes could include some aspects of fire resistance. The most important on in his opinion was fire-resistant roofing material. But he also made the point that if you retrofit or have a new house that meets the code, it does you no good if your neighbors don’t.
In my small world I have news of two people whose rented homes were wiped out. Neither had renter’s insurance. One worked two jobs and had her adult children living with her. The other was a photographer who had just moved in. These are not wealthy folk.
The domino effect in Socal with one ski resort after another going to reduced seasons, then intermittent seasons, then completely closed, is very noticeable. The resort I learned to ski at has been closed for years. The larger ski resort right down the road from it has been open two months this *decade*. I remember when Mountain High’s high speed lift was the cool new thing and now their skiing areas are down to intermittent seasons, although the snowboard park is still scraping open.
Mike in NC
Pretty sure when the Fat Bastard visited Finland the only thing he wanted to talk about was Putin.
@Dorothy A. Winsor:
Critics of CA need to keep up. We have had *that* for decades, although it could be stricter. There are still a lot of older houses, though.
@debbie: I suppose I’m cold then, because I’m against subsidies for rich people and idiots (which strongly overlap). If your property has been heavily damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster that is likely to happen again, you should learn from that experience. Either rebuild with strong mitigation measures in place (houses on stilts, fire-proofing, earthquake proofing, etc) or take the buyout and go someplace safer. My tax dollars and insurance premiums shouldn’t enable stupidity. If it were up to me, you’d get two rounds of predictable/preventable destruction and you’re out. No more money.
As for Kansas, I hope those houses have good tornado proofing and aren’t built in a floodplain.
My brother lives in Thousand Oaks and his ex-wife and kids live in Oak Park so, yeah, I’m slightly aware of the fires up there since they both had to evacuate. Which is kind of my point — lots of places that are NOT Malibu are being affected by wildfires right now, so focusing our policy on whether or not Malibu should rebuild and ignoring the dozen surrounding communities that were also affected is ridiculous. Should the non-millionaires in Thousand Oaks on the opposite side of the mountains be banned from rebuilding because we want to punish the millionaires in Malibu?
@Dorothy A. Winsor: Many CA building codes have required fire-resistant roofing for decades, and brush clearing has gotten wider and wider, but a 2000 degree fire that has generated hurricane force winds laughs at that. I heard on the radio during the fires that the humidity was so low the dew point was below zero, and I don’t remember it ever being that bad here. Poorer neighborhoods like Paradise are full of mobile homes, which are manufactured of materials and adhesives that make them tinderboxes, but they are less expensive and banning them would leave millions homeless.
@Dorothy A. Winsor:
I saw Gov. Brown on one of the morning shows today, and he said people will have to start building underground bunkers. He said the speed the fire moves through, there’s no way residents can drive to safety.
@Mnemosyne: I just went over to LGM and dug through a bunch of posts and saw nothing about Malibu. Ted Kennedy yes, but nothing about Malibu rebuilding or not rebuilding. What am I missing?
@germy: Thanks. I didn’t look far enough back.
“The Case For Letting Malibu Burn” by Erik Loomis, posted 11/16/18:
What is particularly staggering to me is they may never be able to identify all the remains they find, because medical and dental offices containing the records also burned down.
Of all the ways I don’t want to die, burning is right at the top of the list. Living where I do (Seattle), the natural disaster most likely to do me in is an earthquake. Or, if I move out to the ocean coast, a tsunami. Being crushed and/or drowned are both quite awful, but IMO still less awful than burning.
Trump goes to California and makes more ignorant remarks. Let’s ask the guy who hasn’t read the book to give a report on it. As usual, he’s bluffing his way through. Ignoring any reality that challenges his assumed authority.
Trump says seeing the devastation of the wildfires in California hasn’t changed his opinion on climate change. “No, no. I have a strong opinion. I want great climate, we’re going to have that, and we’re going to have forests that are very safe… that is happening as we speak.”
There are about 900,000 people living in Ventura County where the Thousand Oaks and Oak Park fires were, and I’m not including the parts of LA County that were affected by the same fire. Where would you like to move them all to?
I remember after the 1993 flood in Iowa, the mayor wouldn’t even permit a flood wall to be built because it would hurt downtown commerce.
The only thing that will change this situation is people themselves deciding to move. Like you said, people you know moved out after the third flood. Hopefully, at some point, everyone else will too. New building regulations will help, but government-enforced relocation will never work.
Am I the only one who thinks this is a better use for Elon Musk’s tunneling company than building vaporware mass transit?
You could also get an underground vault for your backup battery bank done at the same time.
Can’t link, but did anyone put up yesterday’s LA Times story on evacuating a nursing home?
I’m still peeved because Loomis decided to run with that post on the same day that giant clouds of choking smoke descended on Sacramento and San Francisco because the Camp Fire is an ongoing disaster that’s far bigger than the fire that affected Malibu and a large number of other communities and all he could come up with was, “Mike Davis was right and we should just let California burn!” ?
I recall Sooner Grunt’s tales of installing his tornado vault, or whatever they call those things.
Drive through our historical Gold Rush towns and you’ll see 19th century buildings of brick with iron shutters, construction evolved from years of dealing with fires that wiped out entire towns in a couple hours. I don’t know whether fireproof homes are possible but fire resistance can be designed in. But housing stock doesn’t roll over quickly, it takes the better part of a century.
Heard an interview with a fellow (chancellor of an area college district) who hunkered down at his place as the Camp Fire raced through, and he had studied and prepared meticulously and had the resources to do everything needed to prepare and survive. Scant few folks in Butte County could have replicated that.
@Luthe: Fuck “your tax dollars”.
I live on a 40 acre parcel, 1000 sq.ft. home various outbulidings in Nor Cal about 10 miles from the coast. To clear up a few thoughts I’ve read here on this thread:
*It is about 650 humans still unaccounted for in Paradise fire – that does not mean they are dead, just not accounted for. Many of them may not be aware that they are being sought. Local and state agencies are working on that full time.
*Yes, the state of California does require a 100′ defensive parameter around homes and structures in the State Responsibility Areas – SRA. Meaning, those rural areas where Cal Fire, the State fire agency (used to be part of CDF – Calif. Dept. of Forestry now a separate agency) Every year I have to mow and weed-wack about a 1/4 mile road through my place plus those 100′ perimeters. Being on mostly hilly land that amounts to about 20 hours with a good Stihl weed-wacker plus about 10 with a riding mower. The latter part is easy, but I positively HATE weed-wacking. Murder on the back. This year I hired a mother-son team to do the road and some of the hillside w/w and it made a difference.
Also, too, there is the never ending job of limbing all trees along the road(s) and in and around the defensible space area. I have more than 40 burn piles ready to go as soon as the rains come and wet the area for several days. Burn permits are required.
* Good news is that rain is expected here in NorCal starting Tuesday night and continuing till past Turkey Day. Thank Dog!
* As to PG&E’s culpability and responsibility….. California is not going to seize it or put it out of biz. No different than any other state with long standing, private electric companies – Ain’t going to happen – NOWHERE. Rate payers are going to suck it up .
* Personally, I don’t have PG&E for exactly all the reasons contained above including a major source of many fires in rural forestland areas. I have a solar electric system, 24volt DC converted to 120 AC via a 20 year old Trace inverter which still works like a champ. Got an extra 400+ watt panel last year and even on cloudy days I always have electric for lights, computer and power tools. Together with a propane refrig I’m good to go.
* BTW, electric lines are not the only problem. Telephone lines are also a threat. 4 years ago my neighbor below had a Verizon telephone line snap on a windy, hot, August day and off it went. Because of improper management of his trees along his driveway the fire got into some big old firs and became a crown fire with about a 25 mph wind behind it. Fortunately, that’s when two retardant bombers got there and along with a helo with water bag were able to get that under control. The river is right below that property.
That was scary for awhile and it took about 40 fire personnel on the ground to mop up afterwards.
I keep adding more water tanks as I can to the property including a 3000 gallon one directly down hill to a hydrant 40′ from the house. More than 14,000 gallons in reserve at all times fed from an underground spring I had dug out 35 years ago that has never gone dry.
Such are the realities of life in a forestland rural area in Nor Cal.
I was wondering about this. It’s probably the best solution.
@debbie: And Florida and NC banned even mentioning climate change. People are stupid in all sorts of places but reality wakes people up.
You are cold. It’s not all or nothing. This is not a black and white situation. Provide assistance based on need and contingent upon rebuilding for stricter standards.
ETA: You don’t want your taxes subsidizing these people? There are people who don’t want their taxes going toward better infrastructure or better schools. Are you okay with that?
@Mnemosyne: I didn’t take that article as specifically targeting Malibu per se, but generally the policy of the California government subsidizing fire suppression, rebuilding, and insurance for hyperwealthy communities in fire-vulnerable areas. Malibu is just the most famous and memorable. The cited book is quite explicit about that distinction.
I think that the Paradise fire was similar to a tsunami – little warning before the event broke over the community – while most wildfires are more like hurricanes, where there is warning to allow evacuation. Even the Mount St. Helens eruption had a major evacuation before the event.
@Yarrow: Yeah, he mentioned people sitting in traffic jams trying to drive to safety from firestorms that can cover the length of a football field in a few seconds. Might be a good project for Musk to build fire bunkers (and not just for wealthy estates).
@trollhattan: One house on Mexico beach survived and it was built to hurricane standards. The regular folks who live there will never be able to rebuild to those standards. Here come the condos.
Saw a brief TV segment last night (I think it was Inside Edition) where a family was reunited with their cat. The lady held him up in her arms with such joy. She thought he’d perished in the fire. The cat wore little bandages on his paws, but seemed okay otherwise.
Just a little happy story in the middle of so much tragedy and suffering.
@raven: Is there a GoFundMe? I was in the 101st, so am particularly interested in helping.
@Raven: Yeah, that’s the consequences of higher, and more expensive, building standards. They cost a lot more and regular people can’t afford the houses. I’m not really sure what the best solution is. Having people lose everything in terrible hurricanes (or earthquakes or flooding or fires or…) isn’t a great option either.
That is a “yes, but..” situation. Most wildfires allow some warning for evacuation. However, climate change means we are getting more and more of the tsunami-level wildfires. The Santa Rosa fires last year had people going to bed thinking they were safe and waking up at 3 in the morning with minutes to try to escape. Now just a year later we have a fire blow up – in the day even – and catch a small city entirely by surprise.
The biggest problem is that we have so much construction in areas which *used* to be semi-defensible where we are now faced with the choice of expensive (and often ugly) fireproofing on a large scale (permanent firebreaks around towns, etc.) or the reality that people will continue to die by the dozens or even hundreds in, essentially, flash fires.
Pay for more resistant buildings vs. pay for more and more firefighters. It seems obvious to me.
The bottom line is ‘you may not mention climate change no matter what’. No matter what, climate change cannot be a thing, doesn’t matter how big the changes are or what they lead to.
Also, private companies get to do anything with no consequence and you have to protect investor money before anything else because capitalism, but ‘deny climate change/global warming/fucking inevitable unstoppable apocalypse’ is the primary one. It tracks back to money, but the money behind refusing to acknowledge climate change is far more widely spread than one private utility company so it’s a general rule at this point.
Formerly disgruntled in Oregon
That’s a little understated, IMHO.
(From WaMo Political Animal blog)
Delurking to write @Mnemosyne, I think it’d be much more fair to say the folks at LGM are discussing fire policy using a chapter from Mike Davis’s book “Ecology of Fear” titled “The Case for Letting Malibu Burn” as a place to start. Said chapter is about increased inequality due to fire policies that hurt the poor and people of color. Davis is a bomb thrower and titled the essay which became the chapter in the most provocative way he could.
I am NOT ready to go back to work tomorrow. Two weeks off was just not enough. And of fucking course Tuesday is some kind of “team building” bullshit that nobody wants to do and everyone HATES.
@debbie: That’s not the choice. People live where they can afford to live. If higher building standards mean housing costs increase so much that people can no longer afford to live there, then those people will move where they can afford to live. They will not be the ones paying for firefighters in that area anymore.
As Raven pointed out above, the people who got wiped out in the panhandle of Florida can not afford to rebuilt under the new building codes so that their houses will withstand the next hurricane. As a result condo developers will move in. The entire community will change.
Villago Delenda Est
@Formerly disgruntled in Oregon: Not to mention depraved indifference to human life (and all other life) by PG&E managers and executives.
In my experience, management’s ideas for Team Building activities bring employees closer together in their hatred of management.
The last team building bullshit I was compelled to participate in involved role playing. I told them I was uncomfortable with the idea of roleplaying outside of the bedroom.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@HeleninEire: Mr DAW’s former employer finally gave up on stupid fake exercises and sent departments out to work as a unit on Habitat for Humanity houses. I thought that was good team building.
ETA: The universities where I worked never even tried to make faculty do “team building.” I can’t imagine.
Villago Delenda Est
@Chris Johnson: This is where “putting to death every last member of the Federalist society” comes into play.
@HeleninEire: Maybe it’ll be better than you think. At least you can all team build by agreeing it’s awful and going to the pub after.
@stinger: He just retired from a tech firm that he was the CEO. I’ve emailed a couple of times and he seems to be ok. Thanks
We have a cabin in the mountains in SoCal. We are required by the PTB to rake up all of the leaves and pine needles once a year around our cabin in Blue Jay, CA. Doing this will not prevent the next fire from destroying everything in its path but we do it because it’s required and it does tidy things up, and it does remove some fuel from the forest.
We also get an annual bill from Jerry Brown just for forest management, and our share is about $125. Haven’t seen it yet this year but this is about when it shows up.
The LA Times did monumental work covering the huge fire we had in the area in 2003, called the Old Fire. There were a number of compelling stories that intertwined over several weeks, like the guy in Upland who had bought an old fire truck, a water pumper complete with water tank, at auction and decided to go up the mountain and find someone who needed help.
The story about local tv newsman Chuck Henry who almost died when his camera truck wouldn’t start, He and the cameraman were where they were supposed to be, reporting on a fire crew in a “safe” area well back of the fire, when the wind shifted and sparks flew to the roadside grasses behind them and they were trapped. The firemen realized and grabbed them and stuck them inside their truck, where they all listened to the terrifying sounds of the fire passing over and around them as the truck shook. When it had passed and moved up the mountain, they saw that the aluminum parts of the tv truck had melted and run down the road to them.
The story about the son-in-law of Charles Wysocki (artist) trying to save his in-laws’ house, spraying fire retardant foam on anything he could and grabbing the original paintings from the walls of the guest cabins behind the main house, which sits just above Hook Creek where the fire swept through several times as the wind shifted, burning what it missed the previous times. Wysocki had died the year before but his widow still lived there.
The old guy who refused to evacuate and used his time to drive through burned neighborhoods and make notes of what had burned and what hadn’t. He was exasperated with the news coverage because the reporters didn’t know the difference between Cedar Glen and Cedar Pines Park, and reported areas had burned down that hadn’t. He didn’t use the internet so he’d phone his daughter in Corona and give the info to her, and her husband would post them on the internet so people could find out if their house was still standing. Everything was closed except the malt shop in Cedar Glen, so when his gasoline got low he had to go off the mountain for more and the cops wouldn’t let him back up until Chuck Henry realized and gave him a press pass. He had been using the guy’s online reports to improve his own coverage of the event and eventually some of the other stations did too.
About a week after the fire engine owner’s story and the Wysocki story, there was more: fire engine guy found the Wysocki property and stayed with the son-in-law to fight the fires. They saved the main house. Everything else was lost including the garage.
The Malt Shop in Cedar Glen was the only thing that stayed open through the entire ordeal, serving breakfast to the firefighters every morning, and every morning the call would come down the mountain that The Malt Shop had survived another day.
Hook Creek still looks like the surface of the moon. The trees that grew there will never come back. Some houses have been built since the fire but the tiny cabins are gone, all of them wiped out. In 2008 we looked at house across the road from the creek and from the back yard we could see the burned wreckage of several houses directly behind, one with a bathtub behind supported by the plumbing pipes on the second floor, which wasn’t there. It was almost cartoonish.
Our place was built in 1923 and started life as a single room building with a stone fireplace. Intended for use in the summer only. Outhouse where the patio is now. The well is just up the hill behind it. Possibly the oldest cabin in Blue Jay. It grew in strange ways, adding the kitchen and bath in 1925, adjusting the roofline so that the attic became usable, and finally enclosing the exterior stairs to the second floor. It makes sense now, but it was strange before they enclosed that stairwell.
The fire in 2003 was stopped about a quarter of a mile up the canyon, where Daley Canyon Road meets State Highway 189. We were assured by bitter locals that our cabin was safe because it was so close in to the business district, just a few hundred feet away. But the fires in Santa Rosa and Redding disabused us of any notion of safety and we are listing it for sale this spring, because we’re too old to sift through the ashes of a place we love so much.
The fire next time will take it. They won’t be able to stop it no matter how good we are about raking up the needles.
??? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ??
Government subsidies for housing?
J R in WV
You all going on about Katrina — forgetting all about that little storm in Puerto Rico that killed nearly 4000 folks?? Maria maybe? Too soon or too late? Geez~!!~
And most of those deaths may be rested on Trump’s shoulders, just as Katrina’s are on Bush’s and Brownie’s shoulders. And Paradise…
@MobiusKlein: It’s always fire season in California now.
I wonder if they logged their own trees killed by pine bark beetles after our conflagration. Trees like that don’t burn, they explode, They explode and send burning debris to other trees and vegetation and create a firestorm that looks a lot like what we’re seeing of this terrible fire but the conditions are so terrible that I am sure this is not driven by the bark beetle issues.
It costs the home owner considerable money to remove those trees which is why the county now manages the second acre of our property above the cabin’s acre. The previous owner allowed it and the logging companies stole healthy trees along with the dying ones even though they were marked. He was irate. The whole mountain was logged in the 1890s and everything up there has grown up since, with a few rare exceptions. There are still a few very old trees lurking back in the canyons that were difficult to reach. We still have a few pines on the property, but not on the county’s acre. It’s almost all very young oak trees and cedars.
Trees logged off with bark beetle damage are worth a lot of money now because the damage causes a pretty blue streaking to appear in the wood.
Chacal Charles Calthrop
@debbie: Something can be “cold” but still be true. I agree with Sister Golden Bear.
It was always clear that refusing to stop climate change was going to cost far, far, far more in money and lives than switching the entire planet to clean energy and this is going to be a necessary part of that cost. These horrendous fires are only going to get worse. Denial is not a river in Egypt, as they say.
My hope is the insurance industry, who have a lot at stake, will get in-the-face mouthy about climate change and GHG reduction. I don’t know the relative cap values but suspect the industry’s is higher than that of power utilities. Which means they win.
Unfortunately the oil-gas-coal industries are bigger still.
@Frankensteinbeck: People who grew up in Finland have been on Twitter the past two days saying they do NOT rake the forests.
There are only 4 million people in the country, which is 3/4 the size of California and all forests and lakes.
Just One More Canuck
@Keith P.: the next time Trump rakes a bunker will be his first
@J R in WV:
Hey buddy, this is America we’re discussing, m’kay?
@Just One More Canuck:
All Fuhrers have bunkers, but they have people to do the raking.
J R in WV
OK, Mnemosyne, expand your mind to accept the fact that CA is so big there can be two terrible fires destroying communities at the same time, one in NorCal and another in SoCal, in fact burning 98,362 acres of Malibu to the ground.
I imagine there aren’t 1,000 people missing, but still.
J R in WV
Don’t liquidate it, confiscate it, fire the management, install experienced public managers, recruit new power company managers from companies that understand you have to maintain the facilities without setting the world on fire.
Economic journalism. Chico is hard to get to. The nearest large airport is Sacramento, itself not huge, an hour away (under the best of circumstances). Chico itself is only 90K people, which around here barely qualifies as a city (my homeowners association is 30K). There’s not a lot in the way of accommodations for reporters, especially with the scale of evacuations. It’s a relatively hard place to report from.
Also, who gives a shit? Half the country isn’t remotely receptive to the climate change argument and the whole country thinks we’re a bunch of freaks for having focused on it for 40 years.
@J R in WV: I agree. PG&E should be put in receivership and turned into a public utility. The economic cost of these fires far outstrips the cost of burying the power lines, yet it doesn’t get done because the full cost of these events doesn’t land on their balance sheets. Add in the rapid change in the role of utilities here and the argument for keeping them a private company doesn’t make sense.
Private utilities can work in CA, but it’s hard and requires a fairly nimble management team. Some of them are going to fuck it up, as PG&E has repeatedly. Time to end their particular experiment. SDGE has announced they’re going to start burying their trunk lines. They see what’s coming.
@J R in WV: You know she lives in CA and has family members that had to evacuate, right?
Disagree. They would stay if there were subsidies to help them rebuild more resistant housing.
PG&E should be forced to start a fund with the money they normally use to buy off state politicians.
@Frankensteinbeck: as usual, the liar-in-chief made it up.
@raven: Glad to know he and his are in a position to get by. Air Assault!
John Cole @ Top:
Maybe, but I think it’s more likely the mainstream media’s conservative bias against anything environmentally related.
Anthropogenic Global Climate Change is clearly a factor in the increase and worsening of California fires. The media doesn’t want to upset wingnut advertisers and conservative snowflake viewers by bringing it up. And since there’s no way to report this story without Global Warming being a subtext at minimum, the major networks are downplaying it to avoid criticism from the right.
That’s my take, anyway. YMMV.
@trollhattan: We get notices fairly often when SoCal Edison is going to cut the power to our cabin because they have to work on the lines. Funny, they must just blanket the area with the notices because when we visit the cabin we rarely find that the digital clock on the stove has been stopped by an outage. No line of blinking zeroes.
What a horrible thing to have to live with, but thank you for sharing your stories.
Adam Schiff is going to have subpoena power very soon.
@Chacal Charles Calthrop:
Excuse me. What is it I am denying? Well, other than your right to tell other people how they must live?
@Mary Green: The LA Times has some really good reporters. Michael Hiltzik is a treasure.
I don’t see how you can say that it’s not being covered more widely. It opens all the big broadcast news shows and is on cable media nearly one quarter of the time.
The Pale Scot
Solution? How about a Cali State Goat Corp? Thousands of goats organized into Regiments that invest an area and turn anything 8 ft or lower in goat poop? In the east they’re great at defoliating an area including poison ivy. Seriously an under used solution to over growth. Controlled burns in the west can be dicey
@Dorothy A. Winsor: In the 1980s there was a fire in San Bernardino County that ran up the foothills to the mountains, but the wind also forced it to run downhill into the north end of San Bernardino. My in-laws were evacuated because the north end of town was on fire, even though they were a couple of miles south of it. Later we drove through the neighborhood that had burned and most of the houses that were gone had been stucco. The ones left standing were also stucco but were newer and had clay tile roofs. Most of those survived where they were in clusters.
Some of the tweets embedded in that article are priceless.
Trump’s statement reminded me of a photograph I saw, maybe back in the 1970s, of people using handmade brooms to sweep snow off the streets and sidewalks of Beijing/Peking. Back then, I couldn’t imagine a more futile gesture. Now I can.
@opiejeanne: I’ve spent a fair bit of time in forests, and they’re pretty distinctive. Finland gets rain, and the tree debris is able to naturally compost. Their colder climate means that snow can sit on the ground for weeks on end permeating any dead material that lands. That also encourages plant growth which also retains moisture and which further shades the ground and allows that composting to work.
Higher elevations in the sierras do this too, but most of the state does not. Our forests get little rain and dry material piles up year after year. Composting requires water. And plant growth requires composting and water. Our forests don’t have much undergrowth. They don’t have mosses. The plants that do grow here are drought tolerant. They can live for long periods of time being bone dry, and they tend to be oily to survive. When they are dry and oily, they burn incredibly easily. These are the kinds of plants that need rain maybe once a year, when they’ll green up, grow a bunch, and then brown and basically hibernate. They would be very susceptible to lightning, but we don’t get much of that here on account of us not getting any damn rain.
This is what a Finnish forest looks like: https://smy.fi/en/finnish-forest-association/
These are what many California forests look like – particularly southern california: https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/southern-california/national-forests-so-cal/
Coastal northern California forests (the kind of places where Trump prefers to build his golf courses) look a lot more like the finnish ones not because of rain but because of the regular marine layers that come in from the Pacific. That famous San Francisco fog. It comes in several miles and can create rain-forest like conditions. Parts of the sierras get decent amounts of rain, and as you get closer to Oregon you get forests that look like Oregon forests – greener, more regular rains. That’s why you don’t see many fires from very northern CA (you could pretty much fit Ohio between Chico and Oregon).
I travel around CA a lot – I’ve visited most of the 160 public colleges in the state. People, particularly on the east coast don’t understand just how big this state is. Driving from the Oregon border to the Mexico border is equivalent to driving from NYC to the Florida border. LA to El Paso is a shorter drive.
@Mike in NC:
Despite the presidents Strong opinion that we’re going to have Great Climate! the fires last year in Sonoma and Napa counties, and the Paradise fire are now experiencing the So Cal Santa Ana wind conditions -fierce and unrelenting for days, wer’e experiencing fewer years of fall rain that would end the summer fire season and have not yet had a cold snap. With the topography of the feather river canyon, picture sluices feeding oxygen at speeds normally associated with tornadoes with a dence woodland environment, these fires are Dresdens -mercilous fire storms.
My Dad was a mile north of Santa Rosa’s evacuation zone in Windsor. I have no doubt that the air conditions hastened his death in March. The air is choking.
So, yeah, will definitely be buying a rake.
It is seeming very likely Trump will go one step too far very soon. I can’t believe that spelling of Schiff’s last name. So presidential. //
Not to mention the non-equivalence of the Attorney General and a Special Prosecutor!
The raking discussion just keeps reminding me of this classic Simpsons clip.
I have nothing intelligent to add. I fear my actual thoughts would simply amount to an incoherent string of obscenities. I hope everyone stays safe and my heart goes out to anyone who was injured/perished/lost loved ones/houses/etc.
J R in WV
Nope. Didn’t know. Sorry for their loss, obviously!
But. That was just the title of the book Loomis was using to make a point about rich people gaining from fire policy while poor people lose everything.
@The Pale Scot:
Thousands? There are 33 million acres of forest in CA and you need about 5 goats per acre to keep them maintained. Google tells me that’s about ⅓ of all of the goats.
You did not include subsidies in your original statement. You said:
Both Raven and I noted that more resistant buildings are more expensive and that more stringent building requirements have a history of making the new housing out of reach for the people who lived there previously and who were wiped out by the natural disaster.
If you want to talk about subsidies for rebuilding to the new more expensive code you are on to another topic.
Because it feel right:
Rakeman – Eugene Chadbourne
That is what I meant. I apologize for not being clearer. The government/FEMA should provide funding for rebuilding, based on each person’s financial need. Malibu millionaires can take care of themselves; in fact, they will benefit greatly if the area around therm is made more resistant.
Chacal Charles Calthrop
@debbie: That climate change is going to make areas where people live increasingly uninhabitable.
@debbie: FEMA is slow in paying out to people, from what I understand. Years later people are still living in trailers or have moved elsewhere. It should be better but apparently it is not.
@Chacal Charles Calthrop: This is true. Especially in hotter climates. When nighttime temps do not go below 100 F for weeks on end it’s going to be increasingly impossible for people to live in those places.
@Chacal Charles Calthrop:
Please. Point me to a statement I made — anywhere — where I deny climate change. JFC.
Ran out of Balloon Juice updates
If they keep showing the most boring team in football
See, if you had Trump’s literary genius, you’d have written that out as: so
Donald Trump, litterateur extraordinaire.
@mainsailset: Oddly enough, a news story a week ago was that California had not requested any firefighters from British Columbia even though we had firefighters from around the world during our massive fire season from about May to August.
@West of the Rockies: That’s good news. I thought whole town was destroyed.
@debbie: You’re not denying climate change. I took the discussion as thinking about the costs and benefits of rebuilding in some places that we know will be increasingly affected by climate change.
The more obvious examples are people living along the coasts. Should we spend a lot of money to help people rebuild in places that models show will be under water in the coming decades? At some point hard choices may/will have to be made as we adjust to the changes that are clearly happening.
I personally would like to see ordinary people helped vs the 1%, in whatever form that takes. Taxes, fire safety, flooding, healthcare, whatever.
i’d give you one and then you’re on your own if you rebuild in the same area. and i live on a sandbar off the coast.
Interesting points about the fire:
Reuters has very good coverage including this Evacuation plan ‘out the window’ when fire hit California town. If you look at the google map satellite view you can see the town was heavily wooded, and at the bottom of a canyon coming down the mountain range. The wind just blasted down that canyon, it wouldn’t have taken much to start a fire.
Many of the worst California urban wildfires have been late in the year, The 1993 Old Topanga wildfire (stopped in Malibu) started on Nov 3rd. The Oakland firestorm of 1991 started on Oct 19th (with 3,000 homes destroyed).
Chacal Charles Calthrop
@debbie: you responded to a comment suggesting that certain areas are becoming un-insurable by saying “that’s cold.” I agree, but since
I think climate change is going to make places where people now live unlivable, I also agree it would be a good idea to make those place uninsurable to discourage people from rebuilding in places where disaster is sure to return.
You seem to think that’s a harsh idea, and I assumed you also thought it was a bad idea because you don’t think climate change will make those places unlivable.
She’s bomb throwing and strawmanning the LGM post, Davis’s book and the comments.
And ignoring the Malibu fires which once again, burned down to the beaches.
Davis’s book points out that there are a lot of “rural” areas like Malibu, where after each disaster, the costs to homeowners, the State, the Munincipalities, to rebuild, skyrocket.
So Malibu, which was once dominated by starving and struggling artists, writers, actors, waitresses, cooks, clerks and mechanics, living in “cute housing”, is now dominated by multibillionaires compounds.
The State and Muninicipal subsidies for the billionaires services are far beyond the same subsidies for “affordable housing”. Davis argues that “The State” should abandon places like Malibu completely, and focus on building safe, liveable, affordable communities instead.
If Kanye want’s to rebuild his 200,000 square foot compound, he should have to carry all the costs of putting the road back, bringing power back, fixing the sewers, storm sewers, water supply, and pay all the costs of fire supression, landslide mitigation, replanting, etc. Any “insurance” he get’s should be “billionaires” insurance, his coverage should not be “piggybacking” off someone in metro Oaklands fire insurance.
Davis’s book covers off a particular form of Disaster Capitalism, long before the term was coined.
Davis’s book also makes it clear that his “abandonment” proposal doesn’t apply to places like Paradise or Chico, other than that those are the places “The State” should be spending money and policy to harden against disasters.
For example, you can build fire resistant, affordable mobile homes and modular buildings suitable for re-homing fire “at risk” areas.
Companies don’t, because there are no regulations and standards requiring it, and they would have to make significant changes to the manufacturing processes and material supply chain, along with minor engineering changes.
Here, in Barrirre, which burned down to the ground 3 years ago, the Trailer Parks and Lot’s have been repopulated with the exact same mobile homes and modulars that blew up like bombs last time. Luckily the forest is gone and won’t be coming back for 50 years, sadly the brush and grass is back.
Back briefly. Here’s that LA Times story:
California fire: If you stay, you’re dead. How a Paradise nursing home evacuated
Will read this thread and catch up on comments tonight.
@West of the Rockies: PHS, home of the Trojans. Woo!
Class of 2001, here.
@debbie: The horrible part only appears when I hear of a fire in SoCal and google it to make sure it’s not near the cabin, and then we wait to see if a firebug has decided to set one in our area, just for fun.
Forgot to mention, the Old Fire was arson and it killed 6. Older men had heart attacks and died. When they finally caught the guy who started it he was charged with 5 counts of murder because they couldn’t link the 6th to the event well enough. That was 6 years later. His intent in starting the fire was to kill some people in a house in the foothills in Lower Bonny Canyon, at the junction of Old Waterman Road and Highway 18. That was October 25th.
It destroyed nearly 1000 homes and burned over 91,000 acres. There were 15 fires in SoCal that month, and it wasn’t the worst that month. I had forgotten but that included the Cedar Fire. The Fire Siege of 2003.
You might want to check Wikipedia about the Cedar Fire. That one was so much worse than the one I wrote about. It was arson too.
@Jay: It’s pretty hard if not impossible to get fire insurance if you’re building in the foothills here in SoCal. Most of the houses on the hillsides in Malibu are self-insured. As far as “Letting Malibu burn…”, where would that extend to? Belair? Beverly Park? The hills above Glendale?
@opiejeanne: The Station Fire in 2009 was huge too, but it was mostly in the sparsely populated Angeles National Forest.
Related to your first question, yeah, there’s a significant disconnect between East Coast and West Coast coverage. The whole West, actually. Last year I won a number of bets simply by betting that the online versions of the NYTimes and WashPo would lead with the latest Trump scandal, no matter how small, while no more than one of the papers from seven big metro areas in the West (typically Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Denver) would lead with it. Unsurprising that the leading West Coast story is also pushed well down in the East Coast papers.
@WaterGirl: I always suspected Lois
@Chacal Charles Calthrop: @Chacal Charles Calthrop:
I don’t roll up into a ball and wait to die. I try to adapt to what I can’t control. YMMV.
Here’s your hard choice: Where will you put all the people?
@Martin: Yup. Our cabin backs up to the San Bernardino National Forest.
Here’s a shot of the hillside behind the cabin: National Forest land
And a side shot of the cabin on a sunny day. The dates are wrong, we didn’t own the place until 2008 and obviously it’s not December: cabin
Most of the fires I remember were in CO, like the guy who started a fire to prove himself worthy of being hired onto a fire team.
As you know, that was exactly my point. The “Malibu” fire severely affected the inland areas north of Malibu that are more more middle-class and working-class, like your birthplace.
But it’s more fun for people who don’t know the geography to sneer about letting the rich assholes in Malibu burn than it is for them to understand that those fires in Malibu spread to other nearby areas as well.
And shrugging it off as, “Well, California just has wildfires” is letting PG&E off the hook for their culpability in THIS SPECIFIC fire.
@JGabriel: My understanding is that since 2000, California climate has been almost uniformly hotter and dryer.
Even the rains that have caused mudslides are still less.
FWIW Paradise sits on a plateau well above the canyon where the fire started. Fire loves climbing out of canyons of course, because it acts like a chimney.
Yup. Most of our hottest years have been notched in the last decade.
Yes, there isn’t conclusive proof – yet- that PG&E’s was responsible for this fire, but there are certainly rumblings about that.
And, they came very close to wiping out inverse condemnation liability a oouple of months ago.
I wonder how many millions they have spent on their TV ads over the last few months playing up what a great part of the community they are.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: I remember that one. Someone I used to follow on flickr posted the most terrifying and gorgeous photos of everything from the fire itself to sunsets.
I also remember watching large burned pages from books from the Yorba Linda/Placentia fire? fall on our little house in Anaheim, in the flat area just north of Disneyland. We had a shake roof and we were nowhere near a hillside, yet every other year our insurance agent had to go to bat for us with the parent company because they didn’t like that shake roof. They were thinking “Anaheim Hills, OH NO!!!” and never looked at a map. That area was so flat it didn’t drain well, even though it wasn’t in a flood plain. We had a small flood in the garage one year but that was an unusually heavy storm that went on for days. It was only an inch deep but it did destroy a box of photographs that were stored on the floor. I’m still sick over that and don’t know how that happened.
@Mnemosyne: Tend to agree, those that contributed to causing the fire should face consequences. Just for the record, while I was raised in TO(3 months to when I set off to Westwood at 18), I was actually born in Hollywood.
@opiejeanne: You mentioned bark beetles…after George Harrison died here in LA, a pine tree was planted as a memorial at the trailhead of the Charlie Turner trail in Griffith Park(it’s at the northern end of the Observatory parking lot). About 10 years later the tree started to look unhealthy…bark beetles, which killed the tree. So the George Harrison memorial tree was killed by The Beetles.
@debbie: I remember that one too. Ugh. People suck.
@trollhattan: My brother-in-law lived in a canyon adjacent to Paradise when he was going to college at Chico State in the early 80s. We visited him there in 1981. I imagine that house and the others are gone now.
@catclub: I had no idea until recently that Lois was Beetle Bailey’s sister.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: *groan* Shame on you.
@germy: The things I learn here. priceless.
@opiejeanne: Heh, they planted a new tree.
Have had the pleasure of riding several Chico Wildflower centuries, a cycling tour that winds south from Chico, climbs and passes through Paradise then down to Lake Oroville before heading west then back north to town. It was a lovely ride and Paradise more or less lived up to its name, especially in April when all is green and lush.
You forgot the sarcasm tag.
Owned a house in socal built in 1984 that was required to have a non combustable roof. When we had a fire come down the hills behind us, not nearly as severe for sure as Paradise, the fire dept told me that the houses were quite unlikey to catch fire because of the roof. They just watched the embers fall on the roofs and didn’t bother to waste any water. Not a house damaged. Couple of wooden back yard fences weren’t so lucky.
@Ruckus: The house I grew up in had a shake roof, my mom replaced it about a year before she passed.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: We thought about replacing our roof with a metal one that mimics shake but the cost was prohibitive. It would look silly with any other style of roof.
The roof didn’t leak because we maintained it properly and it had at least another ten years of life left when we sold the place, but we included a $10k reduction in price to cover a new roof. I looked at it online when it was for sale for the third time since we sold 8 years ago, still has the same roof.
@debbie: I personally am not going to put them anywhere. Many people will die. That’s already started in places like Syria where the drought because of climate change was responsible for the war. Population migration will happen more and more and it’s going to be a big issue. Some new places may be available to live that previously were too cold but people will have to move there so migration again.
Not sure it’ll be a good idea to rebuild in coastal areas that flood over and over. Eventually people will be living in elevated houses accessible only by boat. Smart technology like they use in the Netherlands might be a good idea but using it everywhere is probably not possible. So people will move. A lot of countries are going to have to figure out how to deal with that issue, not just the US.
Well, shit. I guess we’re gonna have to move that log cabin marking your birthplace, then.
In Louis Creek, most of the scattered Reserve Housing burned. The Band is rebuilding with fire resistant stacked modulars with attached communal facilities for horses.
Instead of a mix of various standards of housing ranging from rotten mobile homes to newer “suburban” homes scattered across hundreds of acres of brush, grass and small pockets of timber, dirts roads with a mix of services from some, to none,
Reserve housing will now be in 6 buildings that won’t look out of place in Vancouver’s trendy Yaletown with full services and lots of communal spaces for the Tribe.
In a few years time, Barrierre is going to have to be evacuated and will burn down to the ground again.
It is going to be weird driving for hours past traditional rural and scattered suburban landscapes for hours only to suddenly come across a high end skyrise condo cluster in “the middle of nowhere”.
When existing rules, policies, procedures and zoning don’t effectively prevent disasters and create a form of disaster capitalism that drives out affordable housing, we are either going to have to take effective measures, or get driven out.
Right next door, the Lewis Creek Band might have to evacuate the vulnerable because of air quality, but the reserve housing and livestock like horses will never be in danger again.
The rebuilding costs, ( even considering providing clean water, power, sewage, high speed internet, heat, to all the Tribe members who never had that before) is a fraction of what it would have cost to rebuild all the scattered houseing.
Having to provide services to only 6 “footprints” rather than hundreds, and shared walls, floors and ceilings really can cut costs.
My comment got eated, but I was responding to a question about whether or not it is possible to build fireproof housing. The answer is that it is not.
Construction that is considered noncombustible (which is different from fire-resistant or fire-rated) is characterized by a primary structural frame made of steel or reinforced concrete. The largest fire-resistant buildings are fire-rated up to three hours only, which provides time to evacuate, not to save the building.
This is to say nothing of the cost. Housing structures are generally considered low-value to hold cost down, but also because houses and most apartments are small and easy to evacuate and to rebuild. The goal is life safety, not maintaining a structure forever. Wood is a rapidly renewable and inexpensive resource, whereas steel and concrete are expensive and resource-intensive to make and transport. Steel and concrete construction would essentially make all housing a luxury good.
Exterior materials that are less flammable or flame-retardant (note that “fire-resistant” is a specific term with a specific meaning, not the kind of casual way we’re discussing it here) are definitely a good idea. But they are not going to save a structure from a big fire like this.
We as a society have to understand that losing structures is expected and is not preventable if we build in fire areas, and that we have a social responsibility to help those who are displaced by finding better housing. We will not design our way out of this problem.
@Fair Economist: The last report I saw said 1,300 missing. 76 confirmed dead.
Communities which are uniformly built to “fire resistant” standards , fare much better in fire events than mixed communities. It’s not much different than hurricane standards.
I had partnered in a “fire resistant” Cabinet Shop/Warehouse in Barrierre. It was burned to the ground when the firestorm threw burning mobile homes at it to the point the walls collapsed first.
When we learned that Barrierre was going to allow the trailer park to be rebuilt, we took the insurance money and rebuilt in Little Fort.
Sure. But they aren’t fireproof and don’t ever expect that they are.
Dense urban areas don’t really burn the way they used to, and that’s because they follow strict building codes about fire-rated and/or non-combustible exterior materials so that fire doesn’t travel from structure to structure. But a fire that starts within one of those buildings can still be devastating…..because exterior materials are only about controlling/delaying a fire from spreading to adjacent structures, not about fires that start within a building (which are still alarmingly common, BTW).
There is no such thing as fireproof construction.
The Louis Creek band is rebuilding with sprinklers in the buildings, and high volume sprinklers, misters and tanks of retardent covering the outside and grounds.
A community that was impossible to protect from fire events and the follow on landslides, in part because a lot of the community relied on open flames for light, heat and cooking,
Is now going to be highly resistant.
Barrierre, which is about 60% rebuilt, is just as vulnerable to fire, floods and landslides as it was before because it was rebuilt with no lessons learned.
@Mnemosyne: There was a lot of grumbling the first time the power was cut off. It seems that the conditions didn’t quite meet the threshold to shut off power anyway. The line that was faulty was a 115 kv line. Turning that off is doable, but also can affect hundreds of thousands of people, including those with health issues. Its a complicated mess. I’m hoping the state government is able to handle it better than say a company board.