Southern CA wildfires: good Lord they are huge.


I've been following the wildfires here in Southern California on TV and online since early Sunday morning. Many friends and colleagues displaced, or about to be. Many fires in many different parts of the state, I can't recall this many separate blazes all at once for a long time. Link to NASA images of the wildfires from space.

More resources: San Diego Union Tribune fire blog, LA area fires with google maps, SD fires with google maps, KPBS on twitter, Red Cross "Safe and Well" list.

Jerry Sheehan is aggregating blog coverage here: Link. Sam Coniglio is among many who shot images of the orange-red sunsets this phenomenon generated: Link.

Jacob Riskin has posted some data on the Topanga fires: Link.

BB reader Barry says,

I have a few friends that were evacuated from the San Diego fires. It’s now become the largest evacuation in the U.S. since Katrina. I posted a bunch of charities and local resources here: Link.

Emese G. says,

The link is to an interactive map of the San Diego Fires and evacuation areas from Google. It's surprising to see emergency web sites go down when they're needed the most. The county's emergency web site has been on and off for the last day now. KPBS and Channel 8 News have kept up by limiting their pages to essential information. KPBS even has a twitter, On the other hand, the Union Tribune's site keeps going offline and is unreliable. Craig'slist has people offering to help including offering up their homes for pets and people.
(Thanks, Yannick Rendu, Jed, Michael McCarty and others)

Update: Serial tech entrepreneur Michael Robertson says:

I live in San Diego and the situation is unbelievable. 80% of my employees have been evacuated from their homes. The entire North half of the county is shrouded in a thick eye burning shroud of smoke. That's what happens when 200,000 acres burn. Wild fires are being pushed by scorching off shore gusting winds with speeds of 60 miles an hour in some places. Less than 5 percent humidity and two inches of rain the last year don't help.

They are predicting 36 more hours of the winds. Thankfully only a couple fatalities but 600 homes and offices have been burned down already.

I have family staying with me where i have no power but am relatively safe because i am close to ocean. But news reports just said we should evacuate. (We won't cause there's really no place to go.)

There are fires throughout Southern Ca but those in SD are more severe from what i can tell in spite of the fact that the national press is fixated on star studded Malibu.

Lots of links to more resources and first-person accounts in the comments.

In other news, CNN's Glenn Beck is a big fat douche. Link.

Below: Photo of LACD Fire Camp 9 taken from Kagel Mountain with the Buckweed Fire in the background, by Michael McCarty.


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  1. here in south-eastern australia we have fires like that most years.

    the most reliable up to date source of information (they have an agreement going where there is a max. 10 mins time from fire information release by fire dept to on air) is the local government radio which updates as frequently as required (eg. every 10 minutes).

    the assumption is that phone & sat phone services (and therefore internet) is likely to be disrupted by heat & smoke & is an unreliable source of information.

  2. Good luck all you folks out there on the Left Coast. Do be careful. Fire is not something to take lightly.

  3. The cause is largely a weather system that’s been causing very dry air, extremely strong winds and high temperatures.

    It’s thought that the bulk of the fires have been ‘natural’ IE, powerlines downed from the wind. At least one — the fire in Irvine — is a suspected arson.

  4. Combination of various things, including incredibly low humidity, very little rain, and hurricane force Santa Ana winds, which create pretty much a perfect storm when it comes to wildfires. In at least one case (the Santiago Canyon fire) some waste of DNA started it. People who would do this kind of thing to other people disgust me.

  5. Interestingly, the best source of information right now is a twitter feed by the local NPR station, KPBS. This is great for us young’uns who won’t get the reverse 911 alerts on our cellphones, but can tap the sms alerts of the twitter feed for evacuation alerts.

    http://twitter.com/kpbsnews

    There are several different google maps overlays i have seen, but it is tough to figure out which ones are most recent.

    I yanked the fileserver and critical workstations from our solana beach studio, and now am glued to the pace of the tv (safely in Pacific Beach).

  6. I’m surprised you dont remember the 2003 fires that killed so many people and destroyed 1,0000s of homes.

  7. I was in LA for college from 2000 – 2004. During that time, in October of 2003, Southern California experienced what I would call hell erupting. Up to and maybe more than 13 fires devastated Socal from top to bottom (Simi Valley to San Diego). While the current fires have only consumed little over 100,000 acres, the fires of 2003 consumed over 750,000 acres. And that was only 4 years ago.

  8. I left San Diego (was there for toorcon) Sunday afternoon, as we were heading north there just seemed to be more and more fires every time the news radio did an update on the headlines. Now I’m home in Ojai wondering if we’re going to avoid catching on fire for once.

  9. 2003 was bad. I think tomorrow (Tuesday) will be very gray as all this ash finally falls here in Oceanside.

    I’m technically in the advisory evacuation area, with the nearest fire being by my alma mater CSUSM. Don’t think it will get this far, but you never know, I packed some photos in my suitcase today. We live across the street from a chaparral-covered park.

  10. I just landed at LAX an hour ago. From a couple thousand feet up, those fires sure looked scary. The giant wall of smoke blowing out over the Pacific when I took off on Sunday morning was also <8O

    This is only my second autumn as a resident of LA. Not all years see this many huge fires, right?

  11. Don’t worry airshowfan, it only burns every other year or so…
    I was surfing in Ventura at Surfer’s Point on Sunday and it was crazy surreal. Insane gusts, freaky waves and instead of fog obscuring the sun, it was smoke – burning my eyes and lungs but don’t worry I still caught a couple good waves.

  12. I’ve been in the general LA area for many of it’s huge fires now. The 2003 fire came a mile away from where I was staying at the time and scorched my partner’s backyard. I think it’s unfair to say, “oh, this isn’t as bad as the last fire, why are you making such a big deal”

    The latest count is upwards of 270k acres and 900 buildings destroyed, the amount of area it’s spread over- 7 counties, is huge, and the santa ana wind conditions are stronger than I think I’ve ever seen them. Trees are snapped and have been unrooted, blocking the streets. It’s also not a fire event that’s about to end, resources are stretched thin and the large fires are barely contained, if at all.

    And it’s not to say that past years haven’t been hell. This is a current, huge event that has the majority of southern california in it’s grasp.

  13. I’m in Escondido and we’ve got fire on two sides. Not as bad as Rancho Bernardo and Poway though that have been wrecked.

    Anyone that’s in the thick of this or has loved ones in this area I’ve been listening to 760 AM and have been getting really good, timely information, mostly from people calling in. It’s been “Web 2.0” on the radio.

    Lastly I’ve seen an enormous amount of community support. All over the radio there’s been callers offering to host evacuated families in their homes, horses and other livestock, and people asking where they can go and what they can do to help. It’s really been phenomenal. Last night one of the main evacuation destinations, Qualcomm Stadium, announced that they did not need more food donations because in the few hours they had been asking they had received more than enough.

    I’m blogging about this some on my site.

  14. I had to evacuate in 2003, the areas that burned had not seen fire for at least 20 years. It seems like everything that did not burn then is burning now.

    I see once again that the national news focuses mainly on the LA area, never mind that little burg down south called San Diego.

  15. If you have been told to evacuate, please do so. Do not stay in the danger zone because you have nowhere to go. Hundreds of people died from Katrina because they did not evacuate. They are still pulling up the occasional body. Sleeping on the sidewalk in some town in the middle of nowhere is preferable to being turned to a smoldering corpse when you’ve become boxed in by a wildfire.

  16. Well, I am housing a couple that evacuated from California since yesterday (I have a guest bedroom).
    A little thing like this makes such a huge difference! If you can do the same use a free service like http://www.evacuationhelp.com to find people in need.
    Time for less talk and more action!

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