Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Banning Silver Fire Photos - Illustrations that Teach

Photos are great, aren't they ? Too bad that some lessons come too late for many. But there are still lessons to be learned here.

(Photo: Richard Lui, The Palm Springs, Calif., Desert Sun)
The Silver Fire burns along Valley Hi Drive in Twin Pines, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. In that photo to the right  here, please take a close look in the back ground of the previous fire which went through not so many years ago. The whole entire history of this area of Twin Pines, Poppet Flats, Silent Valley, Vista Grande, and all terrain below to the Beaumont and  Banning Pass floodplains is one of constant fire by result of human activity. Arson, home owner ignorance or stupidity, etc has been the sad experience of this region for wildfire. But one again, do you see the large Oak Trees in the background and the evidence of previous deadly fire disaster coming through less than 2 decades ago ? This hardly qualifies as the 130 years of burn that UCR Fire Scientist Richard Minnich says causes devastating loses of homes and other valuable property. This doesn't even qualify for his "historical 50 year burn interval hypothesis," which he insists if took place would prevent catastrophic loses of life and property.  

ABC7 News
This photo above is also interesting and like other photos, the scenes are of a rapidly moving fire which blitzes through an area, apparently leaving most of the landscaping intact and danger looks to be past. Well, that's the way it can often look, but looks can be deceiving. Clearly from this shot above, we can see the most likely scenario is smoldering embers in rain gutters, most likely loaded with leaves, pine needles and other debris and never properly cleaned out on a regular basis. It's evident that once a small flame gets going in this debris, it's only a matter of time before this flame licks the wooden eaves and trim of the house [in this case what appears to be the porch] and eventually spreading into perhaps the interior walls, though perhaps some time earlier it may have looked okay from an outside firefighter's point of view who moved on to the main fire line. Now, I cannot swear to all of this for a certain, but it is very common for landscaping to be left very much intact and houses and other building burned to the ground. [see Chaparral Institute website] for education and understanding on fire ecology, and fire behavior along with intelligent defensive measures for protecting your home. It's a shame, but sadly, improper home maintenance is more than likely what created this loss in the photo above. True, the fire was/is ferocious and it was going to plow through the landscape no matter what. But with proper maintenance, the house could have had a better than 50/50 chance of making it through even with minor damage like smoke.

Now look at these photos below. These were taken at different stages of fire ignition of the house to the point of fully being engulfed in flames, to the charred remnants. Funny thing is, look at all that sterile defensive space. Nothing a guarantee, but could there have been some roof maintenance that was left undone ? 

NBC Bay Area
(KABC Photo)
I don't know for sure, it may have gone no matter what. But even in the Mountain Fire and the burned buildings on the Pine Creek Ranch, there were un-burned trees all around what looked to be a very well maintained property. Maintenance is something you cannot put off. Clearly, in view of the rest of this years fire potential predictions for the rest of this year by the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center who issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for August through November, 2013, it's a good idea to start playing it safe. Keep watching for more Press photos and see if you can learn anything.

Wildfire Potential for Southern California August thru November 2013


  1. Interesting article, again...thanks for sharing!

  2. It's too bad southern California is providing so much material for fire posts lately...

    There is an interesting large beetle species that should occur in this area that I hope to search for this season -- I hope it is not being affected too addition to all the human and general ecosystem loss!


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