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California declares state of emergency as Montecito fires cause havoc

By Paul Wallis     Nov 15, 2008 in Environment
The California fires are fast and vicious. Small fires have been doing tremendous damage, aided by sundowner winds and topography. Locals described one fire as “Armageddon”, obliterating huge expensive houses. Guts and garden hoses weren’t enough.
The LA Times:
"We watched probably about $60 million dollars of houses just burning out on Mountain Valley, a real posh area," said Paul Morison, who defended and saved his own home in the Riviera area of Montecito. "This morning they're gone. . . . The big house we used to look at, probably over 10,000 square feet, there's nothing. There were probably five of those things burning last night when we were here."
Morison estimated that 50 houses had burned around his. He and two friends had defied the flames with garden hoses until 3:30 a.m. Friday.
I can sympathize. These are Australian type bushfires, ferocious and super fast. They’re worst in valley environments, where they can use slopes to climb hills at incredible speeds. In 1993 they literally surrounded Sydney for weeks, using the mountains and dry bush as fuel, jumping around and straining resources to the limit.
There's also been the inevitable stories of celebrity houses at risk, which is a bit beside the point. Never mind the real estate values, these fires can also kill people. Fortunately casualties have been light.
Current state of play is that 111 houses have been destroyed. Hydeville has been practically obliterated, and 1500 houses are still threatened.
The declaration of a state of emergency is pretty apt. The most that can be said at the moment is that the winds have slowed down a bit.
The LAT has some pretty graphic images. For Californios with Fire Fatigue, I suggest the sports pages.
One other suggestion:
These are very like the Australian bushfires. Same terrain, same problems. We have a lot of people who could help and advise, and maybe repay some favors we received during our big fires.
Give us a ring.
More about Los angeles fires, State emergency, Montecito hydeville
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