Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hell On Earth: The Southern California Wildfires Ravage Our Sliver Of Paradise

Hell. Southern California is as close to hell as you can get. We're all getting tired of it. The news coverage on TV is constant. Fire activity significantly increased in southern California over the weekend. Strong Santa Ana winds have challenged firefighters as they battle more than 11 large fires that have currently burned more than 90,000 acres. Evacuations are in effect for several communities throughout southern California with some of them in excess of 100,000 people! Some of the pictures on this page are from a friend of mine who had fire surrounding his home but it never got there...thank God.

The wind-fueled fires that have burned more than 700 homes and chased away 265,000 residents may be only the start of the destruction in Southern California, where today's forecast called for hotter temperatures and more explosive gusts. The blazes bedeviled firefighters as walls of flame whipped from mountain passes to the edges of the state's celebrated coastline, spreading so quickly that even hotels serving as temporary shelters for evacuees had to be evacuated.

It's unbelievable how many fires there are and new ones keep popping up as embers and idiots keep starting new ones. Why in hell's name would anybody set a fire that causes so much devastation? The thought of something like that blows my mids. Here's a quick rundown and some descriptions of our new and currently raging wildfires...

Mailbu (Los Angeles County) Still burning in areas and no homes threatened at this time.

Roca (Riverside County, California Department of Forestry): 269 acres at 20 percent contained. This fire is near Aguanga, east of Temecula.The Jojoba Hills Resort and Rancho California RV Park are threatened with the mandatory evacuation of 700 residences.

Sedgewick (Los Padres National Forest): 710 acres at 50 percent contained. This fire is eight miles northeast of Los Olivos. Two hundred residents in the Woodstock area are under an evacuation warning, and 250 homes in the Brinkerhoff Road area are threatened.

Ranch (Angeles National Forest): 29,000 acres at 10 percent contained. This fire is seven miles north of Castaic. Currently evacuations are in effect in the Hasley Canyon, Oak Springs, Val Verde and Piru area. State Highway 126, petroleum fields, a condor sanctuary and the Sespe Wilderness are threatened.

Canyon (Los Angeles County): 2,400 acres at 10 percent contained. This fire is two miles north of Milibu. Mandatory evacuations were implemented in Monte Nido, Malibu Colony, Malibu Road, Sweetwater Canyon, Puerco Canyon, Carbon Canyon, Carbon Mesa, Rambla Pacifica, Big Rock and Topanga Canyon tactical zone 8. Several roads in the area are closed.

Buckweed (Los Angeles County): 20,000 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is 14 miles west of Palmdale. Communities of Santa Clarita, Castaic, Leona Valley, Green Valley, Acton, Agua Dulce, Mint Canyon are threatened.

Coronado Hills (San Diego County): 300 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is two miles south of San Marcos. The communities of Discovery Hills, Coronado Hills and San Elijo Hills are threatened.

Witch (San Diego County): 10,000 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is one mile east of Ramona. The community of Ramona under evacuation. Hwy 78 is closed from Ramona to Santa Ysabel, Wildcat Canyon is closed, and Hwy 67 is closed from Poway Rd to Ramona.

Harris (San Diego County): 20,000 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is two miles southeast of Potrero. Strong winds are hampering suppression efforts. Fire is burning around the Potrero CalFire station and structure protection is in place.

Santiago (Orange County): 7,500 acres at 30 percent contained. This fire is 12 miles east of Santa Ana. Several communities along the Santa Ana Canyon corridor are threatened. Strong winds with gusts of up to 73 miles per hour were reported. Hwy 241 is closed from Santiago Canyon to Hwy 133.

Grass Valley (San Bernardino National Forest): 100 acres at an unknown percent contained. This fire is north of Lake Arrowhead. Mandatory evacuations are in effect for the entire Deer Lodge Park area, and all streets north of Brentwood in the Trinity Area.

McCoy (Cleveland National Forest): 400 acres at five percent contained. This fire is four miles southwest of Julian.

The scope of the infernos was immense and was reminiscent of the blazes that tore through Southern California four years ago this month, killing 22 and destroying 3,640 homes. It's amazing to see how these fires keep hitting our semi-paradise. The Santa Ana winds are expected through today, then hopefully should diminished by Wednesday. By the end of the week, southern California should have favorable weather conditions, with higher relative humidity and cooler temperatures. And maybe a break for our weary and heroic firefighters!

Hopefully this all ends soon and any idiot who lit one of these is publicly executed. And to our firemen and women, who have worked for three plus days non-stop, my hat is off to you. You're doing a great job!