Western US is on fire - the 2020 Version

MacMadame

Staying at home
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37,833
Lightning struck all over California on early Monday morning (around 3am where I was) and it started fires all over the state while we were also in a heatwave with record temps. Having so many fires all starting on the same day all over the state has put a big strain on our resources which has allowed the fires to rage out of control in some areas. Another issue is that many of the areas on fire have terrain that makes it hard to get to and also they aren't normally the ones that catch on fire so there is a lot of undergrowth to fuel fires. Another complicating issue is that it's hard to follow C19 protocols while fighting fires.

We have been in a Spare the Air situation for a few days and it's been extended through Sunday. You can see the smoke in the air and smell it. Air quality is unhealthy. Healthcare professionals are worried because between C19, the heat wave, and smoke, people can get very sick.

Right now there are three "complexes" in Northern CA made up of numerous fires, so many that they aren't really talking about the individual ones. One is CZU Complex which is down in Santa Cruz and north along the coast. One of the areas hit is Big Basin park. Largest state park in CA largest grove of redwoods. Some of the historic buildings are gone. Another is the LNU complex which is up in the wine country area that hasn't fully recovered from from big fires in the past couple of years. The whole area is on fire. On the map, it looks like the fires are as big as all the individual big fires they've had recently. Three people have died.

SCU Complex is my complex. For a while, there were fires north of me and south and an evacuation warning for an area 7 miles from me and about 6 miles from my son's place. They also closed Mission Peak. But they've put out all the fires near me and now it's just a bunch in the south. The evacuation warning is still in effect but it's very unlikely This complex is the biggest. Every time they report on it, they say it is made up of more fires. It's up to 20 today. Luckily for people, the areas still on fire are very rural.

Governor Newsom told everyone in the state to be ready to leave their homes at any time though officially there are no evacuation warnings in NorCal except in the 3 complexes.

The good news is that help is coming from all over the west and the Governor is asking for more help from all over the country and Canada. Also, FEMA is helping and we've gotten some grants to help fight the fires.


 
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SkateSand

Cat Servant
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826
The air quality where I am in northern California is horrible. Even though we are staying inside as much as possible and all our windows are kept closed, we're coughing a lot. But it's very still here, with no wind, so the smoke is just staying socked in as we are surrounded by mountains on our western, northern, and eastern sides, and the smoke is coming up from the fires south of us. I'm actually glad about the socked-in smoke, because I'd rather it be too smoky to go outside, but have the wind still so it doesn't fan the flames any further than it already has, plus it's ten degrees cooler than normal, as well. I'm sure once the smoke clears if we get our typical north-west wind currents, it will go back to the ten to twenty degrees hotter than normal it has been, plus there will be wind to fan flames again. :( It's going to be a very long wildfire season until the November rain kicks in. :(
 

MacMadame

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It's hard watching all the places you love to all go up in flames. Napa and Sonoma counties have been so hard hit by fires in recent years and they are very much aflame. Even though our complex (SCU) is technically the biggest in the states, it's also very rural. This is good because it means people aren't dying. But bad in that all the places I've biked, all the parks we ran or hiked in, all the places we visit to enjoy nature are all burning. And also it's very hard to get to some of these fires to fight them.

We are reaping the consequences of ignoring climate change and our infrastructure.
 

aka_gerbil

Rooting for the Underdogs
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We've been getting a lot of smoke and ash here, but we are were it's flat and surrounded by irrigated farmland.

My heart is breaking over the Walridge fire threatening Dry Creek and the Russian River Valley. It's one of my favorite places to go wine tasting. Particularly in Dry Creek, there are still a lot of family owned places that haven't sold out to big conglomerates. It's not the wine itself, and buildings can be replaced, but I've gotten to know the people at the places we frequent every year. I know their names, the stories about their kids, and how the individual wineries came to be. I know what it all means to those people, and my heart just hurts for them.
 

MacMadame

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Those people have been through so much. That area had 2 big fires in 2019 and 2017. And this year with C19, tourism is pretty dead. So they are getting hit after hit.
 

aka_gerbil

Rooting for the Underdogs
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2,190
They really do just keep getting slammed year after year with these monster fires.

At least some of the places I get newsletters for said they've been doing booming sales with shipping out wine during YNW. That said though, it's more than just the wine sales. It's the people who come in to town who stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, etc.

Every year, they talk about how long it's been since Dry Creek had a fire. There is so much there to burn in those hills. I'm hoping they can keep it from coming down into the valley itself and, on the other flanks, from getting to Westside Road.
 

myhoneyhoney

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2,563
I have friends (including my work manager) who have been evacuated. The traffic was so terrible, long wait just to get out of their neighborhoods. The air is horrible here in the East Bay. The cars are lightly covered with ash. It's also stinging my eyes. Stay safe, my Cali friends!
 

MacMadame

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They really do just keep getting slammed year after year with these monster fires.
It's because of climate change. Dry winters and hot summers create the perfect conditions. And while I don't think anyone was expecting such a lightning storm -- we pretty never used to get lightning -- I think they will become a regular part of this time of year as well.

I've been thinking about this. I've never been evacuated before. Do they tell you where to go or are you on your own? Mr. Mac is really bad about this sort of thing. He went to a disaster preparedness class so he's supposed to be putting our earthquake kit together. It's been two years and it's mostly all over the kitchen and half the items are missing. Sigh.
 

aka_gerbil

Rooting for the Underdogs
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2,190
It's because of climate change. Dry winters and hot summers create the perfect conditions. And while I don't think anyone was expecting such a lightning storm -- we pretty never used to get lightning -- I think they will become a regular part of this time of year as well.

I've been thinking about this. I've never been evacuated before. Do they tell you where to go or are you on your own? Mr. Mac is really bad about this sort of thing. He went to a disaster preparedness class so he's supposed to be putting our earthquake kit together. It's been two years and it's mostly all over the kitchen and half the items are missing. Sigh.

I grew up in the South and am used to summer thunderstorms--just not here. It was disconcerting to wake up with it thundering because of the momentary "wait, where am I" fog.

I have no idea about how the evacuations would work. I have honestly not given it a lot of thought because I live in an area considered low risk.
 

MacMadame

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I have no idea about how the evacuations would work. I have honestly not given it a lot of thought because I live in an area considered low risk.
I am freaking out about it because there is one fire that if it jumps into a certain neighborhood in my town (which is currently under an evacuation warning), there is nothing to stop it traveling right up to our place. We're in a direct line and there is no terrain between us to stop it and lots of tinder in the form of dead grass in the hills just above us. Also, I keep getting conflicting info about how close the closest fire is to us.

Since we moved here, I've been concerned about fire because we're kind of trapped. There aren't a lot of roads in and out of the neighborhood. Most of them are cul de sacs and dead ends.
 

aka_gerbil

Rooting for the Underdogs
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That sounds terrifying. I am so, so sorry.

I assume the other neighborhood in question would go to mandatory evacuation before things got really dicey, and that would give you time to get out?

I've been seeing a lot of complaints on twitter about the fire maps not being accurate.
 

SkateSand

Cat Servant
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I've been thinking about this. I've never been evacuated before. Do they tell you where to go or are you on your own? Mr. Mac is really bad about this sort of thing. He went to a disaster preparedness class so he's supposed to be putting our earthquake kit together. It's been two years and it's mostly all over the kitchen and half the items are missing. Sigh.

Since I've lived in northern California, I've been evacuated twice, and a third time was a warning to be prepared to evacuate (we ended up not having to that time). All three times a sheriff's deputy drove door-to-door to alert everyone to evacuate. I don't recall them telling us where to go, but there are usually places that are listed online that you can go to. Best to have that information in advance. We didn't end up going anywhere except out of the neighborhood or area and waiting to get permission to return.
 

VALuvsMKwan

Wandering Goy
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7,227
I am freaking out about it because there is one fire that if it jumps into a certain neighborhood in my town (which is currently under an evacuation warning), there is nothing to stop it traveling right up to our place. We're in a direct line and there is no terrain between us to stop it and lots of tinder in the form of dead grass in the hills just above us. Also, I keep getting conflicting info about how close the closest fire is to us.

Since we moved here, I've been concerned about fire because we're kind of trapped. There aren't a lot of roads in and out of the neighborhood. Most of them are cul de sacs and dead ends.

What's the downside of packing what you need and evacuating now?
 

MacMadame

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That sounds terrifying. I am so, so sorry.

I assume the other neighborhood in question would go to mandatory evacuation before things got really dicey, and that would give you time to get out?

I've been seeing a lot of complaints on twitter about the fire maps not being accurate.
I do think if the other neighborhood goes to evacuation order we will have time to pack. Also, I've gotten Mr. Mac to actually do something about our earthquake kit so I feel a bit better about that. We are also talking about a plan.

I don't think the maps are necessarily inaccurate. I am pretty bad at map reading. And the news just shows burning buildings that could be anywhere.

The other thing is, the city is minimizing things so people don't panic. So it's not like they are going to publish any info to help people decide how worried to be.
Since I've lived in northern California, I've been evacuated twice,
How scary!
 

Lacey

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I have no idea how to tell you to evacuate, I would imagine that you should pack lots of water, snacks and foods in case you are on the road for a while. I agree with those who say go sooner rather than later. Be safe everyone who lives there.
 

aka_gerbil

Rooting for the Underdogs
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I do think if the other neighborhood goes to evacuation order we will have time to pack. Also, I've gotten Mr. Mac to actually do something about our earthquake kit so I feel a bit better about that. We are also talking about a plan.

I don't think the maps are necessarily inaccurate. I am pretty bad at map reading. And the news just shows burning buildings that could be anywhere.

The other thing is, the city is minimizing things so people don't panic. So it's not like they are going to publish any info to help people decide how worried to be.

How scary!

If if you don't pack-pack yet, maybe it would put your mind at ease to have a list of what you want to take. Fingers crossed that you don't have to leave!

Instead of using inaccurate, I probably should have said not-up-to-date with where the boundaries are.
 

MacMadame

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I have no idea how to tell you to evacuate,
There are plenty of lists on the internet. My issue is: where to go if I do have to. And can I get to where it's safe or will all the roads be closed?

I do have an invite to visit a friend in Portland though I don't know if she realizes we have 2 cats and a dog. :lol:

A friend of mine lives in the Santa Cruz area though exactly where I am not sure. They were told to evacuate so they moved a bunch of stuff to their second place in Scotts Valley and then went to stay in a hotel in San Jose. At which point they had to back to Scotts Valley and retrieve a bunch of it (things like cars and propane tanks that you wouldn't want to catch fire) because then they evacuated Scotts Valley.
 

skatfan

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5,054
For evacuating you hopefully have some friends in a low risk area to stay with. Otherwise it’s to Hotels or govt shelters (those are last resort for folks who don’t have other options). Last year I hosted my cousins during the PGE outages because I was in an area that wasn’t affected-because other family members also had to evacuate. I was 100 miles away then.
 

aka_gerbil

Rooting for the Underdogs
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2,190
There are plenty of lists on the internet. My issue is: where to go if I do have to. And can I get to where it's safe or will all the roads be closed?

Maybe it might be worth it to go over some different routes out ahead of time? Come up with different plans.

As for the where to go part, I'd think of it in two parts: where to go first to be physically safe, then where to go to stay until you can hopefully return home. You don't necessarily need the second part figured out right now.
 

MacMadame

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They've increased the warning area to the southern part of our town. It's still just a warning. And it's mostly stuff on the other side of the freeway. And the Community College.

I was supposed to attend a Campaign Kickoff for a friend running for the School Board in that District but they canceled it because of the warning. I assume too many of the invitees are in the warning area and are going somewhere else.

We will see what is on fire tomorrow and go from there. But I'm getting ready to go somewhere else just to get rid of the stress.
 

Aceon6

Isolating from mean people
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21,217
I’ve never had to do a fire evacuation, but have done some for hurricanes. The lists are just a start...
1. Back up your critical computer data to the cloud or an external drive or flash drive.
2. Take pictures of every room and the contents of every closet, shelf, drawer, and storage tub. Copy the pictures to cloud storage.
3. Put copies of your critical documents in the cloud.
4. Assuming you haven’t scanned them, move your family photos and documents to a safer place. (My former job let us bring one large tub each to a safe place near the server room on the main campus. It was amazing to see hundreds of them stacked ceiling high as far as you could see.)
5. When you load up the car, make sure your most critical items are on top and within reach so you can grab them if you have to abandon the car.

My nephew had to do a dash earlier this year with his wife, two teens, and a dog. He folded the back seats then put the dog’s crate in the car, then packed stuff into the crate. The kids and dog sat on the rest of their stuff for the 30 minute ride to their friend’s house.
 

MacMadame

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There doesn't seem to have been any lightning last night at least not over our place! :cheer:

I found out about the expanded evacuation warnings after Mr. Mac went to bed and I didn't want to wake him so that's why I was a little hysterical, I think. I feel calmer this morning.

We have a storage locker nearby, nowhere near where fires would go, so I think we will put some stuff in there. And pack up the car and pickup with things we'd want to take with us.

Now we just need a place to go!
 

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