Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Montecito Fire Caused By A Bonfire

Over 200 homes were lost due to young people's bonfire. They had a good time and left the area thinking their fire was out. Hours later the Montecito fire became a reality. It sounds like this was just an evening fire, not a campfire.

This is the second Santa Barbara area fire started by young people.

I used to go camping a lot. We had large fires in our LEGAL fire pit in campgrounds. These campsites were next the to same type of hills and brush that burned in Montecito. Lots of campers have fires while camping.

From what I observed, very few campers put out their fires before going to bed. Our policy was to DROWN a fire and be sure it did not smoke or sizzle when water was poured over the coals.

I hope campers and others think about the losses in these Souther California fires when they light a campfire.

Oak Ridge Residents Given Free Access To Homes

The Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park residents were being escorted into the park for a look at their homes. They are expected to be given free access to the area today. I am sure ID will be required for proof of residence.

This will give people a chance to salvage whatever might be left from their burned homes. Even burned to the ground homes will often have somethings that can be salvaged.

Someone found a single picture in a burned home. Sometimes that is worth more than words can say.

I once watched a motorhome burn to just a frame. It was hose down by the fire department nd hauled away. This was at a favorite beach spot of ours, so the next day my wife and I were there again and saw a small pile of rubble where the motorhome had been.

Out of curiosity I walked over to it and found one picture and then more pictures. I salvaged the pictures and some papers just before a county truck came by and scooped up all the burned remains into a dumpster.

In the charred remains I found phone numbers and was able to track the RV owner. The owner was a single man living in the motorhome. He was glad to get his pictures back.

So, even in burned out ruins, there may be pictures and other memories left to find and bring a smile or a tear.

Lost Power Dangerous In A Fire

When a fire ravages an area one result can be loss of power. The obvious thing is that you will not have lights in your home if this happens at night. You need flashlights with fresh batteries in your home. This is a good idea whether there is a fire or just a normal power outage.

This Montecito fire tells a different story on how lost power can be dangerous in a fire. I read about two instances of people being trapped behind looked gates in Montecito. The first gate was pried open from the outside to allow those trapped to escape.

Christopher LLoyd's home was behind locked electric gates and his caretaker was trapped behind them on the property. The caretaker crashed his truck to the gates to escape.

Both of these situations could have ended tragically without quick thinking.

What is in your life that could prevent you from getting help in any kind of emergency? Does an elderly friend or relative need a system to get help if they fall? Remember the TV commercial, "Help, I've fallen and can't get up"?

Maybe locked electric gates need a battery backup at the gate in case of emergency. Maybe they need some sort of manual override that does not compromise day to day security.

Monday, November 17, 2008

GREAT NEWS! Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park

There is great news in the Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park today. The L.A. Coroner says that the cadaver dogs have not found a single death in any of the homes in this park.

Of 600 homes 400 residents have checked in and indicated everyone in their home is accounted for.

Cadaver dogs hit on remains twice. One turned out to be nothing and the other is believed to be someones created remains from a funeral urn.

Good News Today On Southern California Fires

The good news is that is is not much news on the Southern California Fires. Yes, the fires are still going. Yes, homes are still in danger and people who have been evacuated are still not being allowed back into their homes because of that danger. However, there is no big breaking stories.

The news is fairly quiet. The winds have died down to a whisper. All the news is comparatively slow paced. GOOD NEWS!

Fire News Good This Morning -- Not Over Yet

The Southern California fire news is good this morning. There are still evacuations in the Brea, Anaheim Hills Diamond Bar fire areas. Most people have been allowed to return home.

There are no morning reports of major home loss overnight. None of the fires are over yet but the news is looking good.

My wife grew up in Sylmar. She lived a block off of Sayre Street (Sayre Fire). She attended Sylmar High School, one of the major evacuation centers.

Last night my wife got a called from an old school friend. One of my wifes friends lived in the Oak Ridge Mobible Home Park. These fires touch of in many ways. Based on maps, we believe this friends house was lost.

This morning some people will be allowed into the Oak Ridge Park to evaluate the damage to their homes and retrieve some of their belongings. This is only for people with their homes still standing. They will only be allowed about 10 minutes each to get anything important to them. 124 mobile homes were not destroyed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Looters Apprehended in Evacuated Areas

There have been at least five looters arrested. Once people have been evacuated, the looters think there is an opportunity to take advantage or a tragedy.

Arsonists and looters should be given severe penalties for their crimes. I hope none of those caught are given light sentences.

Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park NOT 500 LOST?

I just heard an interview with the manager of the Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park. She said 475 homes were lost. The number the news keeps giving is 500. She also said 60% of the lost homes has been searched and no victims have been found and no one has been reported missing.

It seems that until "the dust settles" there will not be accurate figures on losses. I mentioned these errors in an earlier post.

Regardless of whether it is 475 or 500 homes lost, this is still a devastating loss to all who are homeless today. The numbers don't really matter.

Sayer, Sylmar Fire Dogs Have Not Found Victims

The search dogs have completed searching about 30% of Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park where the Sayre fire destroyed 500 mobile homes. Fortunately the dogs have not found any victims at this time.

Another positive note is that no one has been reported missing at Oak Ridge. Not everyone have been accounted for since people have gone their separate ways after losing their homes.

Montecito, Santa Barbara Arson Suspected

Investigators have determined that the Montecito, Santa Barbara fire was of human origin. Arson is suspected in this fire.

A radio interview just occurred: The Montecito fire is 70% contained. 230 homes have been lost in that fire.

There is very little information on the Montecito fire. The other fires have taken over the news. Luckily with 70% contained, there is not a lot of news in the Santa Barbara fire.

Dogs Search For Victims

The Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park lost 500 mobile homes. The park was closed as a crime scene to investigate possible crime or loss of life.

Dogs are now searching every mobile home lot searching for possible victims of this fire.

Arsonist Caught In The Act

A 39 year old man was caught in the act starting a fire in Malibu Creek State Park. He was seen by a citizen starting a fire on the side of the road. He was seen igniting leaves and newspaper. Malibu Creek State park is about 1/2 hour north of Los Angeles on the coast.

The man who saw this arson taking place stomped out the fire and reported it. The sheriff caught the shortly later. This arsonist is in jail on $75,000 bail.

This crime should get life in prison in my opinion. If you rob someone or kill a person, it only affects a few people. An arsonist devastates the lives of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of people.

You an read the full article at MSNBC

FIRE! Sylmar, Chino Hills, Anaheim Hills and More

Another day and fires are still destroying homes and tearing up lives. This is a part of Southern California life. FIRES! Usually the home loss is not as severe as in these fires.

News this morning saying 800 homes lost. Last night I calculated 1000 from all of the fires from Santa Barbara to Sylmar to Anaheim Hills. This includes all fires in between.

The winds are down and firefighters are having an easier job of gaining control over these fires. Regardless these fires are no where near over.

As I have told you, I an 45 miles from the Sylmar fire and at least double that from the other inland fires. I am about 30 miles from the Montecito fire. Over half of the horizon here is covered in smoke. The sun is shining through the smoke casing a eerie orange cast on the area.

One way to help in a disaster is by having an inventory so some of your belongings can be replaced. What about your computer data? Can you replace it? Backing up your computer data and photos is an important part of disaster preparedness.

The typical backup method is to burn a CD or DVD of your important information. However, if you store those disks in your home, you may still lose everything.

One answer is to backup data and store it in a bank safety deposit box. Or mail backups to an out of the area friend or relative.

Another option is to backup online. There are services that you can use for a nominal monthly fee to back up your data, pictures and important information. Two I have heard recommended are www.carbonite.com/Carbonite
and mozy.com/Mozy