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The Camp Fire

The great campfire of 2018

I sit at my computer in the near dark as we finish the forth day of this adventure. No electrical service, so running on battery UPS that is chirping at me. I will need to start the generator again. Only a few gallons of gas left. Fuel smuggled to me by a local friend that knows the back ways. The Officials have us under blockade so we can’t go for food or fuel. The fire is several miles to the south of us.

In the middle top of the map below is a full 90 degree crossroad.  I am at the lower end of the left or west branch of it, just above the forks of the stream there. About 2 mile below the Forest Ranch caption. Fire is now very subdued burning over grass and light brush. The red and orange spots are the active fires at this pictures date 11-11-2018 7:30am.


screen shot 11-11-2018 7:30am

I got up at daylight Thursday.  About 6:30 and there was a light red smudge on the horizon to the south east, by 8:00 the power was cut off. After a couple of hours that smudge had grown into an angry towering black cloud the soon filled  the south horizon all the way to Chico, and the booming of exploding of LP tanks soon followed. A North to South air flow kept the cloud at bay but it towered higher and higher as the fire progressed in our direction. The wind from the north strikes a tall ridge to our south and the resulting Up Draft creates a from the south surface draft as a back flow over Paradise/Megalia. Perfect air flow conditions to suck a fire from Pulga up the rolling hills into town through very dry grass, brush, and pine.  The air spillage to the west from that ridge also funneled air to the west  sucking smoke and fire into Chico. After a time of watching this unfolding disaster We dig out the generator that hasn’t been used in 16 years. Clean out the fuel tank and and add gasoline. Set the choke, third pull it Starts ! Wow! I didn’t expect it to be that easy to get the thing running. As we only have 5 gallons of fuel on hand for the generators, we must husband our use. It is nearing dark and we have No Idea how long this will last…pg

A personal note:

Something that has been rattling around in my brain.
In 1961 at this time of the year my family’s home burned to the ground and we were left with nothing but the cloths we were wearing. I was just 15, …………………………………………..It
was a long cold

Friday morning, the southern horizon sky is a bit murky but the smoke billowing from the fires are much reduced, My guess is the worst is over but it will be at least a week before it is well suppressed. We can’t go for fuel or supplies because of government edict. Electric power was cut off yesterday morning. No big thing, just do without. This is a fairly safe place. It is too bad that the Ecoloons prevented good fuels management and turned the Paradise/Magalia area into a explosive fire area. Nature has fixed that problem for now…pg

Saturday, Because of the blockade we have to organize a smuggling operation to get fuel in. A friend uses a jeep trail to bring in fuel for my neighbor and I, while he picks up things to store in his root cellar or take down to Chico for safe keeping. We can leave the area but would be blocked from returning. This sucks, we are staying. My neighbor and I are well versed on fire dangers, have evaluated the situation and know that we and our properties are quite safe. The fire is over 105,000 acres in size with 5% containment. We now have 8 gallons of gas for the generators, maybe 2 days worth, to keep the refers cold, some lights and me on the internet, phone line has been dead since morning and no cell phone service…pg

This is Sunday, the fire has not grown appreciably today, 109,000 acres in size. 25% contained  at least 29 dead, 6500 homes destroyed and nearly 60,000 people displaced. Poor management of biomass fuels has created this great disaster one of many in California. I still don’t see any signs of intelligence in the political class of “leaders”. Just a bunch of touche-feelies and the out going Governor calling for 100s of billions of dollars to fight “Global Warning” and the new one seems worse,

As the sun sets this evening, there is a light smudge of red in the air to the west from the small fires burning below…pg

Monday, connections are being made to deliver fuel and food to us. It is a smoky day as the North wind has subsided and there are still a few grass fires several miles down the canyon from us, mainly back fires to rid the area of fuel under controlled conditions.  After the car arrives I set to using the car fuel pump in the tank to pump 20 gallons of gasoline into the empty containers. Wonderful! We now have fuel for the coming week. The refers can be kept cold and water pumped as needed…pg

A bit after 7pm Electrical service is restored to us. HURRAH ! I can shut down the generators.  I have real lights to type under and may even get to take a warm shower before bed. Life is slowly beginning to return to normal….pg

Tuesday morning, it is a bit smokey, things are returning to normal conditions, for us. We are out of danger here.  But for others this hell will continue.  Fire is 30% contained at 125,000 acres. 43 fatalities confirmed – more to find I’m sure. 200 people are still missing.  Homes destroyed nearing 7 thousand, as well as hundreds of business operations wiped out. 50 thousand people or more are are more or less homeless and the first rains are a week away….pg

Wednesday; the air is smokey and calm, very boring day here, that is good, just putting things away. The reports are 56 fatalities known, 146 still missing, nearly 9,000 homes destroyed, 52,000 people displaced by the fire and official actions. 138,000 acres involved and the fire 35% contained.

A possible humanitarian disaster is approaching in the form of a cold wet northern storm that should strike in a week with many thousands of people living in their cars or in the streets and parking lots with little real shelter, because the Officials don’t want them to go back to their homes in and around the fire area, nearly 2/3 of those displaced have intact homes to go back to but at present are locked out of the area. …pg

Thursday, Now that my situation has stabilized I can point out the cause of this Camp Fire disaster. While poor fuels management caused by the Ecoloons of the area, specially those in the local government was a major factor. The fire storm that swept through Paradise/Magalia was caused by a rare fluke of geography and weather.
To the south of me and to the north of Paradise/Magalia is a tall ridge that looms over the rolling hills that the town sprawl covers in a mature Pine forest. This DoeMill Ridge was in direct line to block and lift the North Wind that blew against it. causing an up draft that sucked air from the South where the fire started toward the north over the city. between that city and the ridge is a deep canyon that funneled the return flow to the west towards Chico over the only hiway leading down out of the area. A Fire Storm swept south to north and then east to west over the people fleeing the area in their normal directions on the normal way of getting into and out of the area.
Now that the fire has traveled to the west and out of the shadow of the ridge the north wind is pushing the fire towards the south and Oroville…pg

Friday dawns smokey, visibility is nearly a mile, The blockade on us was lifted last evening, we can now come and go to town for supplies. Most of the area is still in lock down and the first winter storm approaches, late Tuesday night to begin at least a week of wet cold weather. 2 inches of near freezing rain on it’s way and the forecast has been getting wetter and colder as the storms get closer. Motel rents are now over $1,000 per week. People with intact houses are living in their cars or tents all over the area outside the fire zone. Lucky ones are staying with friends or family as this disaster continues…pg

Saturday is smoky, almost 1 mile visibility. some people being allowed to return to their homes. The President has made his appearance and left. 149,000 acres burned, 55% containment, over 9,000 dwellings burned, 76 fatalities known, over 1,200 still missing, 46,000 still evacuated ….pg

It is now Wednesday morning,  the wet has arrived with a damp drizzle and fire fighting will begin to change from fire suppression to cleanup. As much as 6 inches of rain forecast for the burn area in the next 3 days. Air is clearing as wind and water does it’s magic in restoring the Atmosphere.  79 fatalities known and over 400 still missing. Over 40,000 still evacuated and over 9,000 homes destroyed. For some this disaster continues…pg

Wednesday evening the power goes down again, off all night long, well this sucks, we were expecting to cook the Thanksgiving Turkey in our electric stove. My sister recommends the big BBQ to roast the Turkey, why not! I set it up, start the thing heating and ready the bird, breast down Garlic Olive Oil slathered all over,  put in the Turkey at 8 am, after an hour the power comes back on and We transfer the turkey to the 325F oven, at noon, the 17 pound bird is cooked to perfection, 4 hours total time. Sometimes you get lucky!

November 23, the day after Thanksgiving. After 2 days of heavy rain the fire is nearly out. 153,334 acres burned, 95% contained. 84 known fatalities and 475 still missing. over 10,000 homes and businesses burned out. and nearly 40,000 still homeless….pg

Saturday, November 24 , We went into FEMA’s temporary facility in Chico to register as being in the Camp Fire effected area. Considering the expected zoo they were well organized, most helpful and fast. They claimed to have processed over 5,000 people in 3 days, I can believe it. It was crowded, They were using a closed Sears super store for a facility and the shopping center parking lot was FULL. The registration was necessary for any long term, to be determined later,  assistance. Agencies such as CalFire also made immediate funding and assistance available to those in real need. CalFire -$250 to those that registered. Not much, but still something to those with little more then their hands in their pockets. Nearly $2 million into the local economy. Many other agencies involved within the same place, for after registration help. All things considered, I would give them all high marks for their attempts to create some order out of the expected chaos. I would guess FEMA has learned a few things about dealing with the aftermath of disasters…pg

The great campfire of 2018  is 100% Contained Sunday 25 November


Camp Fire 100% contained

27 responses to “The Camp Fire

  1. Simon Derricutt November 12, 2018 at 5:11 am

    pg – may be an idea to build a small steam-engine generator, where the fuel can be picked up easily in the woods rather than needing distilled oil that must be bought in. Hopefully you may not need it again, but it’s one of those things that may be useful in a SHTF moment. They run on alcohol, too….

    I hope you’ve read the land correctly and don’t need to make a run for it. I presume you’ve removed the low-level brush around your place anyway, so there’s nothing to burn even if the fire gets close.

  2. H.R. November 12, 2018 at 6:58 am

    @p.g. – I’ve appreciated you checking in with us over on E.M.s blog to let us know you are OK. I realize that much of what you can do is only to watch and wait. Thankfully, you still have internet access to get information on your situation.

    I can sympathize a bit (just a very tiny bit) with the officials blockading the roads. It’s a CYA move to keep idiots who want to go “watch the fire and see the firefighters in action” from taking a back way in to active fire areas. The heirs of said idiots would then sue the officials for the idiots’ deaths.

    As with just about any official from the Forrest Service or the Ministry of Silly Walks, they can’t think on the fly and allow people in and out the back ways for supplies if they show an ID with an address that’s still in a safe place.

    I’m very glad you and your household are safe and NOT crispy.
    @Simon Derricutt, re steam powered generator:

    Excellent idea for anyone isolated in the boonies for any reason, be it a SHTF scenario or just because they want to be away from it all and have no electricity or unreliable electricity.

    It’s easy enough to work up a generator that has a pulley for a drive belt. Some may exist out there ready to go with no modifications needed. I didn’t bother to search as I’m sure there are some available ready to hook up to a gas or diesel engine.

    The problem is getting a steam engine. I just now looked online and there are suitable steam engines for sale, but they are pricey…. and old… very old. I didn’t run across any off-the-shelf steam engines, though they may exist.

    There are quite a few stationary steam engine enthusiasts around with steam engines for sale, but it appeared to me that the aficionados are limited to finding, buying, and restoring old steam engines. The unrestored engines seem to be hard to come by and the restored ones are pricey, as I mentioned. But steam engines are available.

    The other beauty of a steam engine in the boonies is that it will produce waste heat to use in the winter if you are in a cold climate. Judicious placement of the engine and suitable valves and piping would allow one to divert the waste heat through or away from a dwelling, depending on the season.

    Coal is still cheap, if the location isn’t too inaccessible, I suppose one could still get a dump truck load or two of coal delivered. That would save wood from being used until it was absolutely necessary.

    P.S. I have a working steam engine that runs on alcohol, but it is a toy-sized model that my dad had when he was a kid. I haven’t fired it up since I inherited it. I should fire it up sometime.

  3. Simon Derricutt November 12, 2018 at 11:57 am

    H.R. – I suspect pg has the capability to build a steam-engine…. It’s not actually that difficult, and a scrap air or hydraulic cylinder can be used if the lathe isn’t good enough to make a good cylinder and piston. With some changes of the camshaft drive and cams, a 4-stroke engine could be used, except for the problem of rust. Basically, look at the scrap pile and see what you can make from it. Really somewhere around 1/2-1hp should be enough to keep the lights on, the computer running, and the fridge/freezer running if you’re using an inverter to get the voltage stable enough. So generate 12V or 24V DC (car or lorry alternator), have one or two 12V batteries for evening things out, and an inverter to run the AC for the house. Not so useful for someone in the city, of course, where people would complain about the smoke and you wouldn’t be able to pick up the fuel for free (maybe old tyres, though?).

    Even your little alcohol-fired one will probably charge your phone, if you add a permanent-magnet motor as the generator and use a voltage-stabiliser board.

    Hi-tech stuff is nice and clean, but one good hailstorm and the solar panels won’t work, and a storm tends to break wind turbines. Having a bit of 19th century technology around is a nice insurance.

  4. H.R. November 12, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    @Simon Derricutt – Hydraulic cylinder idea… Like!

    Yup, steam engines are relatively simple old tech, but it’s unclear to me if p.g. has an appropriate lathe and mill or other such machine tools for the closer tolerance work. I know he’s good to go on welding and has the hand tools necessary. A few items need to be balanced, concentric, true, fairly close tolerance or the contraption will shake itself apart.

    All p.g. needs is the idea and he’ll git ‘er done if he wants one, and you provided the idea.

    I did some more searching and there are a couple of places in the U.S. (and U.K.! Lot’s of interest there.) that sell new small steam engines and sell kits for about $1,200 -$1,500 USD. The kits were interesting. I think Tiny Motors or Tiny Engines was the name of the comany.

    Oh, I found an ad for a used steam engine for about $600. The seller stated “Don’t even bother to call if you are looking to use this for off-grid living. It is strictly short duty cycle and suitable only for demonstrations.” That told me that a lot of people looking at living off-grid find the steam engine idea to be practical and attractive. It sure makes sense to me.

  5. Simon Derricutt November 12, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    H.R. – there’s a lot of stuff in an old car that can be utilised if you only have hacksaw, welder and drill. Track-rod ends as the rotating bearings (big ends), shock-absorbers as a source of the cylinder and piston (might even be stainless), alternator for the generator bit. A flash boiler is only a collection of small tubes in a bigger one, so you don’t have to get all the water to boiling before starting it. The balancing can be done by eye, too. Having seen what else pg does, if he wants one he can make it. One built from scrap may not be quite so tidy as regards needing oil to be dropped in the right places rather than pressure-fed and recirculated, but then the old steam locomotives needed someone with an oil-can, too.

    At some point I really need to redesign an engine for my constant-pressure cycle heat engine, that can be built easily with few tools. A lot more efficient than steam, but then steam is so easy.

    Back in ’75 an engineer I knew lived way out in the woods, and so was off-grid because there wasn’t one there. Fred used a Lister diesel generator for around 3 hours per day, and batteries for the rest. Once a year (in Summer, normally) he took it to bits for the standard maintenance. No problems with power cuts until the grid was extended to his house and he was forced to be on it, after which he had frequent power cuts (but still had the generator).

  6. H.R. November 12, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Hey, hey, hey, Simon. You’re right! Car scrap would do it and it wouldn’t be much more than a hacksaw and welder. Other than the odd wrench, any other tools, particularly power tools, would just be a bonus.

    The only auto mechanics I’ve done was replacing bad parts. I never really tore into a vehicle with *ahem* “not-factory-approved” modifications in mind. I know the parts of a car, but I just don’t think of them. Now that you’ve pointed out the inventory available, a car-scrap steam engine looks pretty doable even for me; skilled enough but never before interested so I’d need a little self education.

    A radiator might make a fine little boiler if you cut some sheet and enclosed the radiator instead of letting the cooling vanes radiate.Handy inlets and outlets and a built-in pressure by-bass if you care to use one.

    Maybe some of my neighbors should reconsider parking their cars on the street overnight.

  7. p.g.sharrow November 12, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Hi guys, I’ve had a busy day. Finally got food and fuel in, by special delivery, Some how my neighbor got my lady’s car in to bring in food, pick up her meds, he needed to do something at his house. While here I removed 20 gallons of gas from her car before they went back to Chico. So I’m set for a week.
    I keep wishing for a steam engine 😎 as I live in 20 acres of woods. I need to dig up a way to create a good engine. I once saw an article on converting a 4 cylinder, 2 cycle out board motor into a suitable steam engine. IIRC popular Mechanics or Mechanics Illustrated of about 1975 that had a series about that conversion and the steam generator as well. But I may marry a Chevy V6 to a 3ph 10Kw generator that used to be mounted onto a willies Jeep engine…pg

  8. p.g.sharrow November 12, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    PG’s junk yard is a thing of wonder, several cars in there for parts, I was trying for a small 4 cylinder diesel but the one I got turned out to have had a damaged governor and fuel pump. I lost a lot of my machine shop stuff from a typhoon so the needed lathe and drill press are no longer available to me. Not sure if their tolerances would work anyway. the chevy V-6 or the Honda 4. would marry up, I just hate to tear up that Accord, It is a nice car that runs well. but has been out of service for 8 years so might not be worth fighting California to put it back on the road. I can’t even give it away…pg

  9. p.g.sharrow November 12, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    @HR; a good radiator would only be good for 15 pounds at 220F max so that is out. But, black iron water pipe scheduled 80 would work work up to 60 pounds and 250F and be safe for steam generation and generally any water system parts would work….pg

  10. Simon Derricutt November 13, 2018 at 4:35 am

    pg – the radiator may still be worth having in-circuit to recover water from the waste steam. If instead you have spare ICEs around (that Honda, for example), there’s always destructive distillation of wood to get gas that will then burn quite happily in an internal combustion engine. May take some fiddling to get the gas-feed regulated well, but if you have a constant load (generator charging a battery) then that reduces the need to have a governor controlling the throttle and fuel feed.

    These sorts of things have been on my project-list for a while but haven’t reached the top yet – too many things that are more important. I’d rather have a solid-state energy generation than a lot of moving parts that wear out, so the mechanical solutions will probably wait until I really need them.

  11. H.R. November 13, 2018 at 5:38 am

    @p.g. – Glad to hear you got food and fuel.

    Cancel my mini-rant above. Sounds like someone has some common sense.

    Not sure what tipped me off (😜) but I figured you were a tad busy with other things to post much here or over on E.M.’s blog. You’ve posted enough to let us know that you are OK and not ready to be barbecued just yet.

    I’ve been enjoying kicking around the car scrap steam engine idea with Simon. He gets you thinking, and it’s obvious I haven’t thought of the non-transportation uses for scrap cars. A little to the south of me in the Appalachians, they put their old cars up on blocks in front of the house and use them for lawn ornaments, although their neighbors usually consider it tacky of them to display their wealth; kind of “putting on airs.” 😜

    Well, off you go. Back to your fire watch duties. I’m pleased that you had some good news to post about getting supplies.

  12. p.g.sharrow November 13, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    @All; the Camp Fire is ready to fade in my world but for others this is a turning point in their lives. Quite the same as being trapped in the middle of a great battle that they have no part of except as victims of the warring factions. 50,000 people are still trapped in this nightmare, maybe 20,000 have lost everything. For me merely an inconvenience…pg

  13. H.R. November 15, 2018 at 4:20 am

    The death toll was reported yesterday to be 56, with many more still missing.

    I’m glad you’re not part of the count, p.g., but it is very sad to contemplate the loss of so many due to stupid policies. Most, if not all of those people would be getting up for work, letting the dog out, running down to the store, getting ready for the holidays and doing all those normal activities of ordinary day-to-day living.

    The root cause of the wildfire disaster is magical thinking that flies in the face of fats and common sense. The policies that allowed this massive conflagration were set in motion by people who thought they knew better than Mother Nature. She took care of the forests with small fires so that the big ones did not occur, at least very, very rarely.

    These selfish magical thinkers desired only to see the trees in front of them at the moment and wish they and the trees could be in that moment forever. I’m with them in feeling awe and wonder at the sight of magnificent old trees, but it’s magical thinking to ignore the fact that the natural world is constantly changing. They want time to magically stand still. Trees do grow old and die. Tree diseases hit from time to time. Glaciers come and go, scraping the land clear of trees. Storms eventually knock down the tallest, mightiest, and most magnificent trees. Fires do take out some trees, but then new trees grow in their place.

    The magical thinkers that instituted the no-burn, no clearing policies must have been told at some point in their lives how natural fires kept the forest undergrowth tidy. I learned about it in grade school. But they wish it weren’t so. They wish that what they see today will stay that way forever. To do that, you don’t change a thing; leave everything alone. Oh… except put out those nasty little fires so that their beloved trees don’t get singed.

    So at a minimum, 56 people have died due to selfish magical thinkers who chose to ignore the workings of Mother Nature and were able to force that magical thinking into policy. What galls me is that given the evidence of the folly of those policies in the form of the Camp Fire, I have no doubt that the magical thinkers still believe their policies are right, but that that the policy of putting out any and all fires was done wrong.

    Magical thinking may or may not be harmless to an individual. But when that magical thing becomes policy, people get killed.

  14. p.g.sharrow November 15, 2018 at 7:16 am

    @HR; I agree, For 30 years I’ve been driving through the area and shaking my head at the sprawl in dense Piney woods, narrow cow path roads and basic one way in and out.

    This time of the year both the pines and oaks are shedding their leaves as winter approaches so everything is covered with a thick carpet of power dry duff as the wet season is over a month late.

    Explosive fire conditions. A disaster waiting to happen. Murphy’s law” If something can go wrong, It will, and at the worst possible time.” Everyone knew of the problems but just shined it of on.

    It was a beautiful place to live. In time, will be again. I live in such a place, but constantly am clearing brush and considering the fire dangers and escape routs. My neighbors do as well. We are country people living in the country.

    Paradise/Magalia was full of city people living in the “country” cheek by jowl like in a suburbia sprawl. A sprawl that evolved and was builtup in a one time park like area that was once an area of small farms and orchards. It had become a thicket of tall pines and dense under brush Full of wood houses and trailers.
    A similar but much smaller problem exists around Forest Ranch.
    I live between them on a narrow ridge next to a small patch of farmland at DoeMill, that is an orchard/vineyard area. We have 4 ways in and out in different directions, all in forested areas on very narrow twisty dirt roads.
    A paradise with thorns! Life is full of risks…pg

  15. H.R. November 16, 2018 at 8:20 am

    p.g. wrote: “[…] many thousands of people living in their cars or in the streets and parking lots with little real shelter, because the Officials don’t want them to go back to their homes in and around the fire area, nearly 2/3 of those displaced have intact homes to go back to but at present are locked out of the area.”

    That didn’t fully register the first time I read your article, p.g. I was reading some interviews of the displaced survivors and some were going to stay and rebuild while some said they were going to leave and start fresh elsewhere.

    I didn’t realize that a large number of the houses remained intact, so likely a lot of those people will stay. A large number of those who lost their homes, but had insurance will stay and rebuild. I just don’t know what would keep the renters staying in the area, unless it’s a good job at a business that didn’t get burned out.

    Regardless, everybody is up against some difficult times while rebuilding takes place as that will take some time before the basic businesses – gas, groceries, sundries – get rebuilt to support those people that weren’t burnt out.

    The only blessing I can see is that hard times make strong people.

  16. p.g.sharrow November 16, 2018 at 8:49 am

    HR says; “The only blessing I can see is that hard times make strong people.”
    Very true, in the tempering you ether get tougher or break.
    Supplies for the area are only 20 miles away in the main commercial area, Chico. Paradise/Megalia is mainly a bedroom area above Chico connected to it by a highway. I am sure reconstruction will begin just as soon as the Bureaucrats permit, or even before. 😉 …pg

  17. p.g.sharrow November 24, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    We went into FEMA’s temporary facility in Chico to register as being in the Camp Fire effected area. Considering the expected zoo they were well organized, most helpful and fast. They claimed to have processed over 5,000 people in 3 days, I can believe it. It was crowded, They were using a closed Sears super store for a facility and the shopping center parking lot was FULL. The registration was necessary for any long term, to be determined, assistance. They also made immediate funding and assistance available to those in real need. Not much, but still something to those with little more then their hands in their pockets. Many other agencies involved within the same place, for after registration help. All things considered, I would give them all high marks for their attempts to create some order out of the expected chaos. I would guess FEMA has learned a few things about dealing with the aftermath of disasters…pg

  18. p.g.sharrow November 25, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    latest numbers 25 November 2018 ..
    84 fatalities. 605 missing, and about 52,000 residents displaced
    CampFire 153,336 acres @ 100% contained
    Structures Destroyed: 13,972 residences, 528 commercial and 4,293 other buildings
    6 inches of rain has fallen in the last 3 days, temperatures in the low 40Fs at night. next storm into the 30Fs starting tomorrow….pg

  19. H.R. November 26, 2018 at 5:20 am

    p.g., the list of missing has gone down faster than the list of confirmed dead, and that’s a positive note, but the list of missing seems to have stalled a bit.

    Have the searchers been hampered by the fire or there just not enough of them to have checked everywhere yet?

    I’m also thinking that some of those on the missing list are dead and may not be found for years, if ever. By my reading, a large number of people in the area are/were ‘city folks’ that had vacation homes or they retired to the area. They have little or no clue about how dangerous and how fast a wildfire can move.

    I’m just guessing here, but I think some of those missing were on the road (just making up the left/right directions here to make my point) and they saw the fire coming across the road from the left as far down as they can see. They can’t drive forward on the road into the fire so they bail out and run into the woods on the right where there is no fire. That puts them well into the woods when the fire catches up to them.

    Just my guess, but I think some of those missing are off in the wooded areas and won’t be found until a hiker or hunter comes across their remains. That could be months, years, or never.

    I think my guess about some of the missing may be correct, but I also think that the number that found themselves in that situation is small. 50 or 100 or 200 out of the thousands who had to leave for safety sounds like a plausible number.

    If the list of missing stalls after a while, particularly after all the buildings have been searched, then I think those people are off in the woods.

    Reply: this picture of a burned out trailer park will give you an idea of the kind devastation wrought by this fire. multiply by hundreds. Total devastation for each from a fire storm driven by wind and heat.
    Residential areas of homes look nearly as bad, 12,000 at last count that need examination. Even the business centers of towns in the area. The fire consumed several towns! not just Paradise!
    This will take months to examine every structure for remains before cleanup and reconstruction is allowed to begin… pg

  20. Simon Derricutt November 26, 2018 at 6:45 am

    pg – nice to know that the emergency services are doing a good job. It’s just a shame they needed to do that, because the resource management was based on wishes rather than known consequences of not working the forest correctly. I can hope that in future normal precautions are take – after all the Spotted Owls they were trying to preserve have probably all become roasted by now, so maybe a return to more frequent (and much smaller/safer) fires will be happening in future. Those who don’t learn from history….

    H.R. – seems logical that there will be bodies in the burnt-out areas that will never be found, for the reasons you state. When the fires move faster than people can run, and there’s nowhere to hide, they wouldn’t have much chance.

    Misted water works as a pretty good shield against the IR of flames, so a bit of preparation in a fire area does seem to be a good insurance. A swimming-pool would surely last long enough for the fire to pass by.

    Here, my little bit of woodland needs clearing out the underbrush, but since it’s several hundred yards away from the house and we rarely get fires here I haven’t worried too much. We haven’t had a long enough period of dry hot weather to reach a danger-point yet. It’s still something I will be doing something about next year, though. Leave the useful trees and take out the excess small ones. The patch of woodland is pretty isolated from anything that could be a problem, though.

  21. p.g.sharrow November 26, 2018 at 8:17 am

    The reported missing numbers is flexible due to out of the area people calling in to the authorities to check on people they haven’t heard from. Often for years! My lady has been put on the list by relatives that she refuses to talk to in the hopes of forcing her to contact them! Also there are duplicates due to different name usage by the inquirers. The last I heard, the actual likely number of missing is about half of the reported list. People from the area are being asked to examine the list to help clean it up by removing their names…pg.

  22. H.R. November 26, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Oh, I like that story about the relatives, p.g.. That must be the “Never let a crisis go to waste” branch of the family.

    Well, that’s some good news about the list of missing. I can just imagine someone calling the missing persons line to check in on “Aunt Clara’s old neighbor from when they both lived in Iowa, who moved out to California in the early ’60s. We haven’t gotten a Christmas card from her in 15 years…”. I’ve got news for them. Aunt Clara’s old neighbor died in 2003 and that’s why you’re not getting Christmas cards.

    I’m sure there a few geography-challenged dingbats that have old friends in California, but are clueless that Paradise is nowhere near Long Beach, where their friend actually lives.

    I suppose not all buildings have been searched yet, and given other reasons for being on the list of missing people, that leaves very few that were possibly lost trying to outrun the fire. That’s good to know.

  23. p.g.sharrow November 26, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    From what I hear, the search teams are going through burned structures a few hundred a day and they have 15,000 to do! The missing numbers may be well below 300, the biggest hang up is utilities, water and electric service as well as removing the forest of damaged trees. The piney woods flavor of the area will be changed to a more diverse mixed city type woods.
    For the last 30 years the county and local EcoLoons have used the government agencies to prevent removal of the big old dying pines and over gown brush thickets. 20 years ago a friend of mine went out in his families ranch lands next to the Magalia Reservoir and started removing brush thickets that were over running their horse pasture that the family had been using for over 140 years. He was arrested, perp-walked and jailed to great fanfare for desecrating. the environment without city and county permits. In court the thing was all tossed out because he was farming his land. The only thing upheld was he was using a crawler dozer and not a wheel tractor, A $15 misdemeanor fine. All their real charges were dropped. But their action proved their power to stop all clearing of brush and trees with a massive and expensive process of getting permissions from the EcoLoons, whom, you may have guessed it, had to be paid off first! Now these City Fathers are talking of cutting down those pines they had been protecting and requiring the removal of those brush thickets that they claimed made their city such a cozy place. The bottom line, it is still about CONTROL, Anything not prohibited is mandatory and you’ve got to have a proper license! ….pg

  24. H.R. December 3, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Hi, p.g.

    Are you in the mood for any updates on the recovery from the fire? I’m not pushing, ’cause I figure you’re busier than a one-armed trombone player, but there’s nothing much in the news now and definitely no “boots on the ground” reporting like you provide. That’s our (despised) Yellow Stream Media; on to the next thing. Forget about yesterday’s tragedy.

    Thanks in advance for anything you have time for. If you don’t have time, no worries. Read my note and tuck it in your back pocket. You’ll get around to writing something when you do have time.

    Best regards,

  25. p.g.sharrow December 4, 2018 at 10:27 am

    @HR; If it bleeds it leads! For the rest of the world, they can move on to the next entertainment but for those personally caught up in the disaster, the numbness of realty is beginning to really bite in. Chico is overflowing with people moving Zombie like through the remnants of their lives that have been turned upside down. I remember these things. My family’s home burned to the ground one November afternoon, with everything in it, when I was 15. It took years for that numbness to fade.
    But we lost only our home and the things in it. Our farm and the Community still existed, school and friends were still the same. We rebuilt our lives on the foundations that still existed from before “The Fire”. “The Fire” was before and then after, 2 different lives for me. This time for me, “the fire” was just a minor nuisance, not the cataclysmic event that 20,000 people are living through.

    As of yesterday, The authorities lifted most of the restrictions on entry into the area. After 4 weeks people can return to find out the extent of their loss. The Government agencies continue their blizzard of activities and paper work. Slowly the New world of after “The Fire” will begin to take shape as Bureaucratic dreams of splendor butt up against the reality of human chaos. One of the benefits of age is wisdom, I have seen that show before, different Actors, same plot. Human behavior remains the same no matter what Socialists will decree…pg

    Business in Chico is in turmoil some winners and others losers as the needs and habits of 60,000 people have to adjust to the new reality. My lady’s business crashed, others are packed. All of this will change as peoples adjust their lives to the new reality.

    For me, I have begun a new project. Actually taking up an old project that was abandoned 25 years ago. Guess I should pull a ChiefIO and blog about it! There are already hints of it embedded in the categories of my header. 😎 …pg

  26. H.R. December 4, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Thanks for the update.

    A few weeks back you mentioned that people were being prohibited from returning to their properties. I’m glad to hear that’s no longer the case.

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