Photos from space of the northern California fires

Astronaut Alexander Gerst captured the above photo of Northern California's Carr and Ferguson fires five days ago. Below is the blanket of smoke from the Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest fire in California's history, as imaged by the Aqua satellite. Horrifying and tragic no matter how you see it.

From NASA:

Details of the actual fire as well as the ground are obscured in NASA's Aqua satellite image due to the heavy smoke coming off the Mendocino Complex fires as well as several other extremely large fires across California.

Today's total of acreage consumed by the River and Range fires is 300,086 and the fires are 47% contained. The Mendocino Complex Fire doubled in size over the last few days and the Ranch and River Fires combined near Clear Lake to form the largest fire in California history. Weather concerns continue with a warm and dry ridge of high pressure continuing over the fire areas today. Fuel moisture recovery continues to be poor overnight. A red flag warning is predicted from Thursday through Saturday. This is the 13th day of this ongoing blaze. Over 4,000 firefighters have been involved in fighting this fire. There are still over 10,000 structures that are in danger. Yosemite National Park has been closed indefinitely due to the fire.

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Why you don't park in front of a fire hydrant

This photo, which comes courtesy of the Hamilton Township Fire Department, shows a car parked in front of a fire hydrant. The car's windows were smashed by the firefighters and a large hose threaded through them, so that a nearby fire may be fought.

This is what happens when you park in front of a hydrant. This was taken last night at the fire on Norway Avenue in the Bromley section of Hamilton. Reminder, it is against the law to park in front of a fire hydrant.

Here's another angle of the Great Humiliation Snake of Hamilton:

Most cities will just push the offending vehicle out the way, but this is funnier and less likely to damage a fire truck's bumper. Read the rest

Art opening delayed after rotting fish artwork catches fire

In 1997, South Korean artist Lee Bul's "Majestic Splendor," an installation of bedazzled rotting fish, was removed from New York's MoMA because the stink was too much for visitors. To prevent the odor problem from interfering with Bul's new retrospective at London's Hayward Gallery, he put the fish in potassium permanganate. Of course, potassium permanganate is frequently used as a firestarter and can easily lead to a blaze when combined with tiny amounts of other common chemicals. From Frieze:

On receiving advice, the gallery decided to withdraw the artwork, but it spontaneously combusted mid-removal.

‘Following expert advice regarding the materials used in Lee Bul’s Majestic Splendor we took the decision, along with the artist, to remove the artwork from the exhibition. During the de-installation, a small fire broke out and the fire service attended,’ a spokesperson for the Hayward told frieze.

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Intensity of Southern California fires as seen from space

NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the horrific fires rapidly spreading through Southern California. Stay safe, friends. From NASA:

NASA's Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on Dec. 05, 2017. Actively burning areas (hot spots), detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. Each hot spot is an area where the thermal detectors on the MODIS instrument recognized temperatures higher than background. When accompanied by plumes of smoke, as in this image, such hot spots are diagnostic for fire.

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Wheel on fire, rolling down road

I'm certain the flames are CG, because I've seen a few tire fires in my time, but somewhere out there is a more uncannily scary video of the 60 MPH death wheel. Find it for a special no-reward!

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Sonoma fires verified information clearinghouse: evacuations, shelters, donations and support

Trisha Weir writes, "In the wake of the massive fires in Northern California, one of the biggest problems was a lack of centralized infrastructure for information. A group of engineers at a non-profit maker space in Sebastopol banded together to make Sonoma Fire Info, a website with information on evacuations, shelters, donations and support, and have been working around the clock to update it with verified information from a variety of sources." Read the rest

Body cam footage of Sonoma County deputy's rescue efforts

This body cam footage of a Sonoma County Sheriff's deputy working rescue efforts is intense.

Wild-fires in Northern California have displaced our friends, poisoned our air, and kept many, many Happy Mutants on high alert all week. Be safe. The fires continue to burn out of control. Read the rest

Corn silo collapse gets hotter than expected

I tried to make a "flamethrower" with a bag of flour and a hairdryer when I was a kid. It wasn't very reliable, but it got the job done.

July 31, 2017 at approximately 1:00 pm. Switz City, Indiana. White Farms Inc. Overhead tank collapsed full of corn. It hit a power line on the way down and sparked the grain dust igniting the dust and causing the flash. We are very fortunate that there were no injuries!

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Nominative Determinism

Nominative determinism: "the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their names."

Exhibit A.

Police are confident that 59-year-old John Burns has a connection to at least 19 arsons on Sharon’s west side. All of those fires have happened since the beginning of this year.

At this point, he is only charged with one count of attempted arson and one count of causing or risking catastrophe. ... Over the past two years, the total number of fires in Sharon is estimated to be near 30.

Exhibit B. Read the rest

Startling space image of California wildfire smoke plume

On Sunday, NASA's Earth-monitoring Terra satellite captured this image of a smoke plume from the brutal Alamo Fire blazing in the County of Santa Barbara, California. According to the County, more than 600 firefighters have contained about 45% of the fire that's currently burning across 28,926 acres. It started on July 6. Read the rest

How to start a yard fire

The key component of a quality yard fire is ignorance, but you must remember to mix it with a sufficient quantity of flammable material and oxygen.

BONUS: How to start a bonfire on a moor.

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Artist specialized in paintings of Chase bank on fire

I love Alex Schaefer impasto works depicting branches of Chase bank going up in flames in daytime. They were from a series by him called "Disaster Capitalism," and apparently the banks (and cops) would pretend he was planning acts of arson to try and make him stop painting. [via mutantspace, via Janie]

On July 30, 2011, Alex Schaefer set up an easel across the road from a Chase bank and began painting the building in flames. However, before he had finished the police arrived, asked him for his information and if he was planning on actually carrying out an arson attack on the building. Ridiculous. Later they turned up on his doorstep asking about his artwork and looking for any signs that he was going to carry through an anarcho – terrorist plot based on his paintings. If this wasn’t bad enough a year later he was arrested for drawing the word ‘crime’ with a Chase logo in front of an LA bank.

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Atlanta interstate catches fire and collapses

A massive fire in Northeast Atlanta this afternoon caused the busy I-85 freeway to collapse. The cause has been yet to be determined.

CNN has a live video feed:

Flames are erupting underneath an Atlanta interstate as black smoke is billowing under all sides. Local officials are on the scene and working to determine a cause.

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Should you worry if you left your stove burner on?

Did you forget to turn off your stove burner before leaving the house this morning? Don't worry about it. Easier said than done, but...

"A stove is designed to run indefinitely," says John Drengenberg, the Consumer Safety Director at Underwriters Laboratories where they test such things. "Do we recommend that? Absolutely not."

"If you leave it on, and there's nothing on the stove or near the stove, it probably will stay running until you come back," he tells DIGG.

UL tests just about every stove that hits the market. Part of that testing involves ensuring they hit thermal stability. In other words, they turn the stove on, and check the temperature of the burner, and keep checking the temperature until it stops increasing — just to make sure the burner doesn't ultimately set the entire stove on fire.

That said, leaving something cooking unattended on the burner can absolutely cause a fire. Read the rest

Man camped at Turkmenistan's "Door to Hell" and shot video of it

Nothing seems real to me now until it's been youtubed on a cellphone camera; that special mix of artifacty shadows, blown highlights and uncanny detail everywhere else signifies the zenith of media-era simulated authenticity. Elliott's there, though, and it's terrifying!

It's 4am in the centre of Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert, I'm sitting on the rim to what could be described as the world's largest campfire -- known locally as the 'Door to Hell', or officially as Darvaza Gas Crater.

"Bit windy," he says. Read the rest

Man charged after "setting a fire" in a Texas Walmart

Firefighters were able to douse the flames within minutes, but not before smoke filled the Princeton, Texas Walmart and forced shoppers to evacuate. Four were treated for minor injuries and a suspect, Jario Briceno-Barrientos, will face the heat in court after allegedly using lighter fluid to set fire to a pile of clothing.

Princeton police were able to arrest the suspect after posting surveillance video of him on their Facebook page. "Due to the overwhelming support from the citizens we were able to capture the suspect," the Facebook post read. "Thank you, everybody, for your continual help and support!"

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A guide to fire safety in industrial spaces

Following the tragic fire in an Oakland warehouse space called Ghost Ship, engineer and designer Gui Cavalcanti put together a guide to help ensure that unconventional homes, studios, and galleries are as safe as possible. Cavalcanti’s article acknowledges that people generally use these types of spaces because they can’t afford more conventional real estate. And his guide centers on small, inexpensive changes that can save lives. Here's an excerpt:

Make sure your exit infrastructure is fire-safe. News reports indicate that the Ghost Ship fire was exacerbated by the fact that an improvised stairwell was made of pallets. For the record, people often construct bonfires out of pallets. They are not sound building material, they are not fire-resistant in any way, and they should not have been serving as exit infrastructure between the first and second floor. I’ve seen many pieces of improvised infrastructure in the spaces I’ve visited; second floors that are served by home-built wooden ladders, wooden lofts that serve as mezzanines, catwalks made of old building materials, you name it. All of these examples can be extremely hazardous in a fire or other hazardous situation. They’re cool, they’re edgy, they’re creative, but they can also be fundamentally unsafe. Make sure you have safe exit paths (that are marked and made of fire-safe materials) to all of your spaces, even if you also have decorative walkways and paths. Ladders, poles, ropes and other features are not safe exits.

You can read the full piece over on Medium. Read the rest

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