Quote of the Day - We have survived everything, and we have only survived it on our optmism.
Old Fire 45% ContainedAlthough it's a marked improvement from the "unknown containment" just days ago, 45% means the firefighters still have a long way to go. It's snowing up in the mountains, and a mere 32 degrees.
Quite a contrast with the hot Santa Ana winds, which are expected to kick back up next week.
Thanks to the Riverside Press-Enterprise for its online coverage, which has been great. Also to Rim of the World.net for unflagging news, and Ranger Al who stayed up to 4:30 a.m. this morning and awoke to phone calls at 7:00 a.m.
Mountain dweller and others who live near fire areas may want to consider Thermo-gel, an amazing, easily=applied, environmentally-friendly USFS-approved product that protects everything (I'm not kidding - plants, too) from fire.
What will they think of next? Removing fire-prone vegetation from around your home?
Former City Dwellers Sue Neighboring FarmersYep. I used to live on a farm. A real-life hick. In Iowa. On a gravel road, about half a mile from a paved road.
My neighbor to the north raised pigs. I could tell because of the downwind smell. Especially when he used the honey wagon (euphemism for manure spreader). I knew it was part of living there. Not so anymore.
City dwellers who move to the country are now fighting back. With lawsuits.
Like the neighbor who sued the farmer whose tractor kept the neighbor from hearing his television. Or, the nuisance lawsuit over the smell from a hog farm.
Having had the experience myself, the reaction is understandable. But, you have to be prepared for what you're getting into when you move to the country. Farmers get up early and work late into the night. Tractors and combines are loud and slow when on a highway.
I haven't yet seen a tractor that was aerodynamic like a Porsche.
And hogs stink. Really bad.
So much so that the Michigan's rural Ottowa County is trying to prepare city dwellers ahead of time. Not by offering reruns of Green Acres, but by providing real-life descriptions and smells.
You got it, a manure scratch and sniff brochure. Now that's creative.
But I'll pass on the manure smell. I've never forgotten it.
The Great Debate Begins as the Fires SubsideAs the fires die down throughout Southern California, the momentum turned to the U.S. Senate. The great debate has begun.
Thin out trees or leave nature alone?
A group of Senators introduced a forestry bill that would relax environmental rules and limit judicial review on tree-thinning projects.
Republican Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California target 20 million acres of federal lands. Environmentalists fear the legislation amounts to a strike against protecting massive, old growth trees coveted by timber companies.
Maybe too little, too late. Right as the fires began, President Bush turned down Governor Gray Davis' request to help remove trees infested by the bark beetle.
The Senate bill under consideration also provides monies to local communities to thin out trees.
I know how I'd vote.
How Not to Manage Fire InformationThe raging fires are almost over, but hotspots still remain. Admittedly, I am very, very thankful to the firefighters who so bravely attacked this monster and worked to quell it. I am sorry that some were injured and that one died.
I am likewise saddened that so many others lost their lives. I am troubled that my friends and others have lost their homes and possessions, as well as the loss of the beautiful sylvan glens, wildlife and plants where we live. The loss and the devastation to entire mountain communities is staggering and mind-boggling. Especially when you think that more than 1000 square miles - more than an entire Eastern state - have burned.
In the case of the Old fire, all because of an arsonist.
So many people have evacuated their homes. Unfortunately, we have been largely in the dark information-wise. Sure, there's plenty of TV coverage, but it's very superficial for those of us who live where the firestorm is. Plus, the LA reporters can't tell the difference between Lake Arrowhead, Running Springs and Big Bear, even though the towns have different names and are miles apart.
Even the government map sites don't work, or are overwhelmed with hits. One Forest Service site provided this bit of helpful information: "Fire is a unified command between Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Forest Service Type I team assigned."
What? That helps me understand where the fire is.
There are notable exceptions, but in the true American spirit, it is an individual effort that shines through. One, fireupdate.com stands out. Run by Ranger Al (run from a mirror site today because of the volume of hits). He didn't evacuate.
Ranger Al is running his server and computers by a generator. At this point, he has only two days of gasoline left, and is looking for dontations from folks who also remained in the mountain.
Even Google can't keep up - or hasn't indexed sites yet, as this search for the Old Fire indicates. It's frustrating for those who are looking for specific information and can't find it.
Some volunteers have shut down in the face of lack of funding. This site was a referral from a US Forest Service site that wouldn't (or couldn't) provide the information itself - and what the government did provide was out of date.
Other, individual sites again shine through with personal observations and fire maps.
What a great idea. Information. Maps. Pictures. Street Addresses. Next time, how about this information from the federal, state or local government officials who dispatch the firefighters and get real-time reports back.
I'm not asking for the firefighters to do this work -their task is fighting fires. How about the person that stands there and answers media questions? Let's get the information out to the people who need it most - the evacuees and homeowners.
Not the news reporter who blocks fire trucks with his own van and then lost his van to the fire.
Hangnails and Hanging ChadsI don't get it. Voters challenged the paper balloting system as an affront to their civil rights because their votes might not be counted.
Hanging chads, and all that.
Makes sense. Punch doesn't work, vote not counted. I get that.
In response, Riverside County, California, instituted a touchscreen voting system.
Wow. State of the art, right here on the left coast. Admittedly, I'm a computer techie, so I like this idea. Touch the screen, vote gets counted. I get that, too. Seems like it would work very well, especially since it's been tested in other parts of the nation for 15 years.
Ok, so we're not on the cutting edge on this one. Still, it sounds great. But, not to everyone.
Believe it or not, Susan Weber of Riverside doesn't like it. So, she did what every other red-blooded American would do, she filed suit.
Justice Pamela Rymer of the 9th Circuit, though, thinks the Touchscreen voting program doesn't violate Ms. Weber's civil rights. You know, let your fingers do the walking on the Touchscreen.
So, hanging chads are a thing of the past. Now we just have to deal with hangnails.
Dodging the BulletRunning Springs may have dodged the bullet. According to recent TV reports, the blaze jumped up over Nob Hill, in between Running Springs and Sky Forest.
Here's a map of the area. I live right where Highways 330 and 18 meet. This weblog is giving blow-by-blow reports of the blaze.
We're Thankful For What We HaveThere's not a lot to say today. Some of our friends up in the mountains have lost their homes to the fires, and we're hopeful that the tired and hungry firefighters can make a stand at the edge of Running Springs tonight. We'll know more tomorrow.
In the meantime, I'm thankful for what I have.
30 Miles of FireFire coverage is everywhere. My favorite is Big Bear news because it give the updates near where my cabin is located. The last fire struck in early September (just last month) and was called the Bridge fire.
The latest fire is known as the "Old Fire" and is not yet contained.
The Old Fire has jumped one of the major mountain routes, Highway 330, and destroyed 25 homes in Crestline. The other fires have destroyed nearly 850 homes and claimed a dozen lives.
Yesterday, I tried to get up the hill, but no go. All major roads (Highways 18, 300 and 38) leading in were closed.
NASA was kind enough to provide this view from space of the Old Fire, and this one of the Simi fire. All weekend long, it's been snowing ash here in Orange County. Friday, it was so overcast with smoke, you could look directly up into the sun and see the sunspots.
KCAL 9 television has coverage, too, along with this photo of a fire tornado. Although this map changes daily, today's lists no less than 12 large incident fires in Southern California.
Some say the fires are of biblical proportions. I'm just sorry that arsonists may have set some of the fires.