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Posts Tagged ‘CALFIRE’

California Fire Season - A Promise Broken

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

LOS ANGELES (Aug. 29) — A growing wildfire sending massive billows of smoke into the sky north of Los Angeles nearly tripled in size Saturday, injuring three residents, burning a small number of homes, knocking out power to many more and prompting evacuations in a number of mountain

Mandatory evacuations were extended Saturday into neighborhoods in the canyons on the northwestern edge of Altadena, Glendale, La Crescenta and Big Tujunga Canyon, Forest Service spokesman Bruce Quintelier said. It was unclear how many residents were ordered to leave.

California is heading into the most destructive part of its fire season, when winds can whip flames into 90 mile per hour storms of fire - it’s clear that a promise was not kept.

Anyone who suggests fire protection can be as good this fall as in recent years most likely will turn out to be living a fantasy. That, of course, would include Schwarzenegger, for whom everything almost always is “fantastic” in more ways than one.

(Source-Tom Elias www.californiafocus.net)

The new state budget cuts $27 million from Cal Fire, the state agency that sends people and equipment wherever they’re needed most. The reduction includes more than $10 million earmarked for new fire engines, hoses, pumps and other equipment.

There’s also the matter of the DC-10 airborne tanker, another so-called budget cut likely to cost more than it saves.

For years, California has contracted for a standby DC-10 that can dump up to 12,000 gallons of water or fire retardant each time valves open beneath its huge tank.

But a stroke of Schwarzenegger’s pen cancelled the $7 million contract that kept that jumbo jet plane on standby for California.

Now, the state will pay more than $66,000 every day it uses the plane, with a five-day minimum. Anything beyond 21 deployments would end up costing more than the budget cut - and if this year turns out like the last few, that’s how it will be….assuming the DC-10 is available.

But these reductions in state firefighting ability may pale beside what local fire departments will suffer because of the new budget’s raids on local funds.

In Los Angeles, for one, firefighting officials must cover a $39 million shortfall caused in large part by the state raid. So there will be “brownouts” at many city fire stations, with a total of 87 fewer firefighters on duty each day, almost one-tenth of the usual work force. One battalion command team, 15 fire companies and nine ambulances will be out of service each day, but no city fire stations will actually close.

In other areas, including parts of San Diego County ravaged by several large fires over the last five years, fire prevention efforts are being cut. High-risk Fallbrook is one such place, while several other local districts are ironically casting about for money to pay their contracts for standby assistance from Cal Fire. If they can’t pay, the state agency will either have to let the locals handle all problems or go to work without the payment it usually gets. Since Cal Fire insists nothing will diminish its performance, the agency will probably work some fires without reimbursement. Some budget solution.

The most significant thing here is that while officials say they will still “attack and respond,” they may not be able to be as effective as usual.

(Source-Tom Elias www.californiafocus.net)

So far, there heven’t been any mega-blazes anywhere in California until mid-August. But the driest part of the year is still ahead, the season when past wildfires have ravaged Malibu, Berkeley, Bel Air, Rancho Santa Fe, Laguna Beach, the Oakland hills and many other California areas.

CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION - Time for a New Urban Wildland Fire Strategy? - Part 2

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Given the high costs involved in fighting fires, and the high risks to life and property, perhaps its time to test Scott Franklin’s concepts on a wider scale. In order to accomplish this, cooperation is necessary between resource management agencies and fire officials. Mr. Franklin says that this method will actually preserve the chaparral Californians want to preserve, and agencies like the California Coastal Commission are charged with preserving- contrary to what is happening now. Mr. Franklin is not alone. 

Too much fire will eventually decimate the native flora.

-Naturalist Rick Halsey, LA TIMES November 26, 2008.

Scientists in Southern California are finding new evidence that frequent fires are gradually replacing chaparral and sagebrush with highly flammable and prolific nonnative weeds, The Los Angeles Times reports. The landscape change is extending the region’s annual fire season, deepening the threat of mudslides, and endangering animal species. Ecosystems forged over time to thrive by being burned every 60 to 100 years are now being scorched every 10 to 15 years — or even more often.

(Source: LA Times - Mike Anton)

Slow destruction of chaparral and the transformation into grassland will have devastating effects on the landscape of California.

-Naturalist Rick Halsey, LA TIMES November 26, 2008.

Chaparral, he says, does not need to burn to the ground every 30 years to remain healthy. Just the opposite. Too much fire will eventually decimate the native flora — some of the most diverse in the nation — leaving a biological wasteland of invasive weeds. (Source: LA TImes- Joe Mozingo)

This article was published on November 27, 2008. Does anyone get the irony here? California resource management agencies, especially the California Coastal Commission, an agency that prides themselves on environmental cleansing, and routinely demands people cut down Eucalyptus trees, and up root rose bushes because they are “non-native”, as a condition to receive a building permit, are surprisingly silent on this issue.  Mr. Anton continues,

Last October’s Santiago wildfire destroyed native sage scrub while the recent showers have created meadows of flammable, nonnative weeds. Ecologists fear the changed landscape will become a greater fire danger.

(Source: LA Times - Mike Anton) 

Most of the information on fire saftey from CALFIRE concentrates on the need for a defensible zone around homes. BUT what about the larger issue… the huge spaces that surround communities? What’s going on there?  This is one of the key topics of SINS OF COMMISSION. The public needs to become engaged in the interagency dialog regarding land management issues we face in large open spaces.  

If we continue to fight fires, and do nothing to treat the underlying brush (fuel), it seems like we’re destined to repeat the same devastating mistakes again next year, and we Californians can’t afford that. It is ecologically and fiscally irresponsible, and appears criminally negligent to all forms of life.



 
 
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