Southern California Wildfire

Yesterday and today, my hometown of Santa Clarita, Southern California made the news because of the huge fire we have going on: multiple fires sprung up from almost nothing and the strong Santa Ana wind, with gusts of up to 70 mph and even higher, whipped up the fire.

The first large fire was in Malibu yesterday, and as I watched the TV coverage, the hills near our friends and family's houses caught on fire! Needless to say it was a tense time for all of us (our home which is a bit far from the fire became an impromptu refugee center). As of today, however, it seems that the danger here has passed (but everything still smells like smoke).

Right now, raging wildfire is going on in San Diego - with about 250,000 people being evacuated. My condolences to those who've lost homes, properties, and even loved ones to the fire (thankfully, the number of fatality is low because of the awesome firefighters who worked well into the night).

For the rest of us lucky ones, let me pose this question: are you ready for an emergency? Do you know what to take if you have to leave your home unexpectedly in the next few minutes? Do you have a supply bag packed? How about copies of important documents and precious photos?

These are the things I didn't think about until today. I'm definitely going to make a list of things to take and copies of important documents stored elsewhere just in case.

Coverage of the fire: ABC News | CNN | Santa Clarita's The Signal | LA Times | Image: Fire From Above (ABC News)


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We are both the "invasive species"...

...and the "fire insurance."
As long as humans put themselves above the environment, as if the wildland urban interface is our playground where we can live in our picture postcard dream home (with fire insurance), then "we" are the invasive species. When we declared war on fire a hundred years ago and labeled (for the records) fire "evil," we lost touch with our "purpose" as human beings. As a wildland firefighter ceritified in many areas in wildland fire operations as a "single resource," it is clear to me that we humans are out of touch with why we are here on this planet. We invade other countries out of selfishness and greed. We invade the forests out of selfishness and greed. We invade other human and animal "spaces" out of selfishness and greed. Like the fuels that have built up in our forests because of prolonged fire suppression, the same insatiable human appetite for more and more, with disregard for the effects, has reached the point of an inevitable catastrophic (economical, social & environmental) collapse.

We are out of touch with who we are as a cuture. We are out of touch with what we are and why we are. We are more concerned with buying more useless material items while staying in debt, rather than taking responsibility for the well being of everything around us. Those who choose to live in a wildland urban interface to satisfy personal motives need to snap out of DENIAL (a contageous dis-ease that is running rampant throughout this culture) and learn to become "Stewards of the Land."

What is your relationship with the Land? What did the land look like before fire suppression became the policy of a corrupt government owned by greedy corporations? What did the land look like before European settlers "invaded" this country?

Fire was once a natural part of our landscape. Low intensity fire helped maintain balance and order in the forests and kept forests "healthy and biodiverse." (Many Native Americans understood this principle and, prior to the arrival of European settlers, practiced "prescribed burning" methods that supported the health of themselves AND the health of the forests and animals.) However, that knowledge was lost when the European settlers came to understand "timber" as a valuable commodity and perceived fire as "evil" and actually declared war on it. (Good old Smokey the Bear became the perfect propoganda prop to further their cause.) Unfortunately, without low intensity fire to keep forests healthy and diverse, we now have a catastrohpic problem on our hands. The amount of acummulated "bio mass" needed to be removed from our forests, to help nature recover somewhat, is MASSIVE! Like the Karma that will come to all Americans for, directly or indirectly, invading and destroying other peoples cultures, a similar Karma is now at our doorstep.

You want fire insurance? Look inside yourself. Learn to connect to your true nature and how that supports and nourishes your environment...the land your home is on. Each and everyone of us has a purpose on this planet, unrelated to the fashionable addictions most Americans have to any and everything that keeps them constantly preoccupied with being busy doing absolutely nothing worthwhile.

We each need to realign ourselves with our purpose and mission in life; not to serve ourself (always first), but to serve the greater good of all living creatures. Time is growing short on all fronts. Our forests need to be intelligently and carefully "thinned" (leaving all old growth) with mimimum impact on the sensitive ecosystem. Low intensity fire must follow. Therapy for the forests will be therapy for ourselves. They go hand and hand, limb and limb. (Channel the billions of dollars allocated to an illegal war, by a corrupted administration, towards hiring a few million "poor" people to recover our forests. It's a "win-win" situation.)

Time to make a stand for something good, anything. Either this makes sense or it doesn't. The lines are being drawn. Whether you are rich or poor, it does not matter. What does matter is what side you choose to align yourself with?

A fully functional and dedicated "Steward of the Land," steeped in principles gleaned from Nature (and not the corrupted corporations), is the only true "fire insurance" there is. Our ability to positively Steward the Land is the "fire insurance" policy that the old growth forest has always expected from us, as a coherent human race. The policy expired over the last hundred years. Time to renew it for the sake of the forest and ourselves?

Jeffrey Learned
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"Ohh burn on me. Sorry I don’t know all the rules and regulations about fires is California, I’ll try harder to be more informed from now on. Thank you soooooo much my new intelligent friend Alex.

Okay maybe then this is what we get for overpopulating areas that don’t have enough water. But I’m probably wrong about that too huh Alex?"

Why does this need to be a human error at all? What about it is something that would have happened naturally. It is just made all the more tragic since there are people living here because of the many other assets of living in southern california.

I wouldn't say myself that that this area is over populated. Although, that has nothing to do with the fires. The areas that are most affected are houses that are generally on larger lands. There are a lot of ranches that have been in danger. Sure there is not much water in those areas naturally, but there is not much water in ANY part of San Diego county.

Your comment come off as fairly ignorant and pompous. Perhaps part of that is because of your blaming (especially uninformed blaming.)

If you don't have something to say that actually has some content or genuine concern, why bother? Let those whose homes are burning alone. Instead of trying to make some absurd commentary on the state of our living out here. Personally I am proud of San Diego. This is an evacuation the size of Katrina. There is only 1 reported death. There were more volunteers than victims in some evacuation centers and, as a whole everything has proceeded fairly fluidly. The firefighters are doing an amazing job and they work night and day.

So stop with the snarky comments.
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@ Abestar: It's not common knowledge how Southern California's unique terrain factors into this wildfire (unless you live or have lived there).

My response to you was not intended as a slight or insult in any way, shape or form.

I don't know whether you meant your subsequent reply as a witty retort, but it only succeeds in making you look like an ass.

@spacebunny: Thanks! It's much better today, though from recent experience, the situation can turn on a dime. I'll try that lemon trick - I was also thinking of using Febreze.
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@abestar, it's smokey bear... not smokey THE bear.

@alex: my town was on fire back when I was in highschool in em, 2001 if I remember correctly. The ONLY thing that was able to get the smokey smell out of the house was lemons. Lots and lots of lemon scented everything along with sliced lemons all over the place. Try that. It made us never want a fireplace EVER though.
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