Saturday, November 15, 2008

Home Loss Hard To Track

The home loss count is hard to keep track of. There are varying reports from low official counts to exaggerated news reports to just plain errors.

The Anaheim Hills apartment complex lost 40 to 55 units from what I read so far.

Reports say 300 homes have been lost in the Yorba Linda fire.

News reports from helicopters are pretty reliable as they show the damage as it is happening and can count lost homes as they see them. The problem is one helicopter can only cover so much area.

One fact is that hundreds of people are homeless tonight. It is a sad fact that wildfires in California claim a lot of homes and disrupt many lives.

Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park -- Are There Deaths?

The Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park has been designated a crime scene. An explanation of this is that they think some residents may not have gotten out.

Too many burned out homes still have cars parked in the driveways. When people evacuate, they pack their belongings in their cars and leave. There are still too many cars parked in front of burned out homes. Officials are investigating the possibility that some people did not leave.

My thought is that many mobile homes are owned by elderly people. Often in a fire evacuation we hear that elderly residents are reluctant to leave their homes. They have been through fires before and think they will be safe in this one. Just my thought that I hope is not true.

So far there there have been no reported deaths in this park. There have not been any reports of missing people.

Another Massisve Home Loss

In Anaheim Hills the fire swept through a 250 unit apartment complex. It does not matter whether you home is a $1,000,000 home or an studio apartment, a lost home is a the same.

Maybe those who live in the more expensive home have an easier time financially than those living in an apartment. Typically they would have more cash in the bank, more credit cards and may have the financial ability to stay in a nice hotel until they can get a better place to live.

Regardless, the mental toll of losing your home and your belongings is an emotional catastrophe.

Tragic Day In Southern Californa Fires

Today has been a tragic day in the various fires in Southern California. Although there have been no lives lost yet, there have been hundreds of homes lost.

In the Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park, an estimated 500 homes were lost. They still do not have an exact count. They are saying that 124 mobile homes were saved.

One woman said that the Oak Ridge Park was like a small "Mayberry" like community. They had bingo at the club house. There were potluck dinners and many community activities. She said it was more than just a place to live and now it is gone.

Hopefully most homeowners had insurance and will at least get their homes back.

The Corona Fire moved to Yorba Linda and now into Anaheim hills.

Up in Montecito, Santa Barbara there have been 111 homes lost. The Montecto Fire is now 40% contained.

Did you read my post earlier? It is really important that each person take a video inventory of everything they own. If evacuation is imminent for you a very quick picture survey will have to do. If you are not threatened by one of these fires you should take a very complete survey of everything you own.

When filing an insurance claim, a complete inventory will get you back hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars you would not get back without and adequate picture record.

DC-10 Jet Dropping Fire Retardant In Yorba Linda

There is a DC-10 jetliner that has been converted for firefighting. It just dropped load of fire retardant on the Yorba Linda Fire.

There have been three homes lost in Yorba Linda. This same fire burned twelve home in Corona.

Video of the Yorba Linda area shows six home burning. The home loss count at any given time is off. Numbers we here are official loss. News helicopters often show currently burning home well in excess of the number of homes officials tell us about.

Palos Verdes Has A 10 Acre Fire

They just announced that there is a 10 acre fire burning in Palos Verdes.

The problem with these fires is that there are only so many fire fighting resources. They get spread very thin when more than one fire is burning.

When the Tea Fire in Montecito began, fire departments 100 miles away were sending fire fighters and fire trucks in to fight this fire. Outlying areas send equipment to each of these fires.

If more than one fire is burning, firefighters have to be pulled from one fire to fight another fire that is more dangerous.

More Fires More Home Losses

Cornona and Yorba Linda have fires.

Homes are being lost in these fires also.

When the Santa Anna winds pick up in Southern California, fires break out. Some are started by wind blown power lines coming down. Others are started by arsonists.

This is a scary time of year. Every time the winds blow, there is the potential for fires.

BREAKING NEWS: The Oak Ridge Mobile home park has just now been declared a crime scene. Newscasters are being requested to leave the area. There are no details on what the crime is. It could be related to arson, looting or any other criminal activity.

Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park 90% Destroyed

They are saying that 90% of the homes in the Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park has been destroyed. This was a 600 to 800 space mobile home park. A newscaster is in the park surveying the damage.

This morning around 6:00 there were about 35 or so mobile homes burning. The fire department has been ordered out of the area. The winds made it too dangerous for firefighters to stay and save any of the homes.

Luckily, so far there have only been minor injuries and no loss of life in this fire.

165+ Home Lost In Sayre Sylmar Fire

The Sayre Fire is devastating. It has been burning for 11 1/2 hours and more than 165 homes have been lost. Most of those are in the Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park.

Even 165 is not a firm number. On the news they are saying, "Hundreds of home lost in Oak Ridge" This mobile home park has 600 spaces. This morning firefighters were in the park fighting the fire. They were ordered to drop their hoses and get out of the area. I have not heard that they have returned, but I do not know.

I just heard the first news on the Tea Fire in Montecito. No real news, just that they are still not out of danger. All the news is on the Sylmar fire.

50 Mobile Homes Lost In Sayre Sylmar Fire

The fire losses keep increasing. Just now there was a report that at least 50 mobiles homes had been lost in Sylmar. All of these are in the Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park.

A Channel 2 news helicopter spotted another fire starting miles from this one. They do not know where it is at this moment. Only guessing the newscaster says possibly the new fire in in the Corona or Brea area. No details yet. The helicopter is 50 to 60 miles away and spotted it burning

Get Ready For An Evacuation

Fires or any disaster means you should be ready to evacuate as soon as you know danger could be coming near you. The Sayre fire has 10,000 people evacuated from their homes.

Keep important papers and family pictures in a place that is quick and easy to get to. Often you only have minutes to gather a few things and run.

If danger is coming, be sure you know where your pets are. Get them indoors and have leases, collars and pet crates ready. Be sure you pack their food and food and water dishes.

One thing you can do well in advance, even when no danger is present, it to take pictures of what you own. If you have pictures, insurance claims will go quickly. Without pictures you will have a lot more trouble getting paid for your lost belongings. Go through every room of your house with a camera taking pictures. If you have a video camera, give a narration of everything in each room.

If you may be in danger soon, even using a cell phone to take pictures can save you time and grief later.

You have an amazing amount of belongings you may not even think about. A families underwear cost adds up. Knick knacks and collectibles need to be documented. Take you video/picture record of your belongings when there is no danger.

Sayre Fire, Sylmar, California

7:45 A.M. Nov 15, 2008
This dangerous wildfire has been named the Sayre Fire and started at Sayre Street in Sylmar.

Since 5:15 this morning the news has been only the Sayre Fire. There has been no news of the Tea Fire in Montecito, Santa Barbara. Hopefully that fire has been contained.

Officials were saying 10 homes have been lost. The news is showing a mobile home park where I counted at least 34 mobile homes burning. That is at least 44 homes lost. The news now says they have lost "dozens of structures", but there is still no exact number.

The Sayre Fire is being pushed by winds up to 50 mile per hour. The humidity is extremely low, currently 5% which increase fire danger. The temperature is predicted to reach into the 90s today. There is a red flag (danger) condition posted until 4 this afternoon.

Fast moving wildfires are driven by Santa Anna winds which are common this time of year.

I am on the coast 45 miles from the fire. We are in a coastal plain here. The sky is full of smoke from horizon to horizon. The winds are rapidly driving the smoke from the fire a very long distance. It gives you an idea of how bad these winds are.

Traffic in California is being severely affected. Interstate 5 is Closed. It is the main route from Northern California into Southern California. The two alternatives coming south are about 40 miles to the west on Highway 101 or 65 miles to the east on Interstate 15.

There are smaller mountain roads but heavy trucks cannot travel most of there roads. A tractor trailer big rig tried to use Highway 23 to go around this traffic mess and is stuck in a tight turn on this mountain road. The road is posted NO TRUCKS, but the driver disregarded or didn't see the signs.

Living on the coast, we are safe from any fire, but we relate to each area. The Sayer fire started about a mile from where my wife and I once had a business. It started 1/2 mile from where my wife grew up.

If you live near mountains in Southern California, you will be impacted by a fire at some time. The Tea Fire burned brush that has not burned for 30 years. The Sayre fire is burning in the area of the Marek and Sesnon Fires. It is almost the same area.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tea Fire Afternoon Update Montecito, Santa Barbara

There is a lot of help in the Tea Fire Area. Many agencies, companies and individuals are offering help and services to those who have lost their homes and those who have been evacuated.

The acreage has been down sized for over 2000 acres down to 1500 acres.

Electric power will be going on and off in the area due to fire conditions.

There are no accurate figures on lost homes, but estates are 100 to 200.

The getting close to sunset and when the sun goes down the "Sundowner Winds" pick up. Air masses move when temperatures change causing winds to increase.

Evacuations Using REVERSE 911

Many residents are being prepared to evacuate using the REVERSE 911 system. With this system, residents are called warning them of an impending problem. Instead of residents calling the city, the city calls the residents.

This fire is called the Tea Fire It stared in what was a Tea garden may years ago. It is a private fenced in area. It was a garden but is overgrown now. It was not a residence.

One Person Arrested

One person was arrested for being in the area of the fires. He was not an arson suspect, but ran from police when approached. There are no details on what he was doing in the area, but police were suspicious of him being there and had cause to arrest him.

AMAZING Pictures Of Lost Tea Fire Homes

I was on Twitter and someone posted this link to some amazing pictures of homes on fire in the Tea Fire.
Tea Fire Pictures

Radio news:
The Tea fire has no containment estimate. No control estimate.
840 firefighters were on the fire lines this morning.
Well over 100 homes have been lost.
2 serious burn injuries. NO FATALITIES REPORTED.

Fire Spared Newlywed's Home

There was a radio interview of a man who was just married in his Montecito house yesterday. His house was spared. He had been do landscaping and grading and believes the cleared area may have save his home.

His neighbors homes have been leveled by the fire. He said it would feel strange being the only one living nearby. Often our wildfires decimate a neighborhood but leave one or two homes standing unscathed. What a lonely existence for those who are spared.

He had only been in the house 10 weeks and mentioned the injustice of him being their for such a short time and how many 30 year residents lost their homes.

Firefighters may have a water shortage problem. Local reservoirs are low on water. They are also saying that water pressure in the area is low.

Fast Moving Fire Barely Time To Evacuate

Most Southern California wildfires start during our windy season in the fall. Winds last night gusted to 70 miles an hour.

This fire was moving so fast people barely had time to get out of their homes before their homes were consumed by fire.

High winds and a fire only 100 yard (a football field length) from you home mean you have to hustle just to save you life.

One man interviewed on the radio said that he only had time to grab a few things but he could not find his cat before he had to leave.

Helicopters Fly At Night For Tea Fire

This is the first time I have ever heard that firefighters flew at night to fight Southern California fires. Normally aircraft do not fight fires at night due to the canyons, power lines and winds created by the fires.

News says 10 people have been taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and 3 for burns.

Tea Fire Montecito, Santa Barbara 100+ Homes Destroyed

Last night around 6:00 P.M. a fire started in Montecito that has destroyed over 100 homes and injured four people.

Montecito has multimillion dollar homes of the stars. Oprah Winfrey has a home there as does John Travolta and many other well known celebrities. Do a search and you find Rob Lowe, Carol Burnett, Steve Martin, Johnathan Winters and many more live there.

Luckily only four people have been injured so far. Two firefighters and two civilians.

Montecito is nestled against the Santa Ynez mountains. Homes are on narrow mountain roads in areas of heavy vegetation. This area has not burned in over 30 years.

One of the main draws of the coastal mountain areas is homes with a view of the ocean. However, winding roads and long standing native plants make fighting this fire even more difficult.

California mountains are covered in "chaparral" or native brush that is very dry at this time of year and burns quickly and intensely. Wind and dry brush are ingredients for fires in this area.

Homes in the entire Santa Barbara area are expensive to begin with. Working class people have a hard time affording the cost of housing in the area. In the past Santa Barbara talked about subsidizing school teachers so they could afford to live in the area.

This give you an idea of the cost of housing in the area. If you Google "Santa Barbara Real Estate" you will find the median home price in the area is $842,500. There is a lot of very expensive real estate going up in smoke today.