Now I know fall is here. I just spent 20 minute raking leaves out of the pool. That means the fall Santa Ana winds have started.

[Now, let’s just hope that the fire in Fillmore and Moorpark doesn’t go to the south (i.e., towards Thousand Oaks and the ocean… and camp….) or to the east (towards Simi and Chatsworth)]


Something Missing in LA Fire Coverage

As people know, there is a major fire in the Los Angeles area. The paper coverage is good, well, it’s adequate. TV coverage is weak. In the past, one could depend on NewsRadio for the information about major disasters. Not KNX 1070, the CBS station, but KFWB, the other all-news radio station. Well, KFWB is going to news-talk, and in this time of major city disaster, it is sorely missed.

Even with the internet, there is no substitute for talented news coverage during major news events. Alas, we’re rapidly losing this today.


Me Doth Think They Exaggerate

Headline on CNN: Rain, quake prompt evacuations in Southern California

The truth? With no mudslides threatening, evacuation orders lifted in three Yorba Linda neighborhoods

The quake? Sayeth CNN: “Concerns grew Wednesday morning, when a 3.1-magnitude earthquake struck. Though it was not strong enough to be felt, officials felt that it might increase the odds of a landslide, Alders said.”

3.1?!?!? That’s a truck hitting a median out here. We don’t even stop our conversations for those.

(Grrr. What does Atlanta know about earthquakes.)


It’s Weird Out There Again

We have another fire near us, this time up in Sylmar, moving towards the upper reaches of Granada Hills. We have no danger of the fire coming down here in the urban areas, but the smoke and ash sure is… much worse than during the Sesnon fire.

I just got back from feeding Rocky, ixixlix‘s dog. I saw a dog behavior I’ve never seen. He would wrap his front leg around me, effectively grabbing me (this is a 150lb + Newfoundland) — which I could sense as a “please don’t go”. Even though I don’t need to feed him again until tonight, I think I’ll go by again in a few hours, just to reassure him and visit him. He has no idea what is going on (ixixlix is out of town at her mom’s funeral).

But the ash is bad. Earlier this morning I went out side (mask on) and got ash from the pool, which was just black. The ground is covered with ash. The prevaling winds are blowing the smoke and ash to the south and west… in other words, directly over Northridge. I know other LJ folks who live in the area (or who have parents who live in the area): my gut says you’re likely fine, as the Sesnon fire did create some new fire breaks. Still, embers can fly, so we all need to be alert.

As for me: I’ll stay indoors until mostly until we go to Pasadena tonight. I’ll delay laundry (and especially hanging stuff outdoors) until next weekend.


The Surreal Life

As you may or may not know, we live relatively close to the Sesnon Fire. The fire started up near Tampa and Sesnon, and we live down near Tampa and Plummer. So we personally have little risk, but it’s still surreal:

  • Given how much the radio talked about the bad traffic problems, driving home was a breeze. There was very light traffic on the 405, and no traffic on the 118.
  • It was weird looking at the Santa Susanna Mountains, and seeing active flame up in the Porter Ranch area. It was still active as we headed home about 20 minutes ago.
  • It was even weirder as we visited some friends in Chatsworth (right at the edge of Chatsworth Park North), and hearing the flame dropping choppers overhead… and as we left, seeing a flareup in the Stoney Point area.
  • The smoke in the area was bad; my throat still hurts. I haven’t been in smoke like that before.

This has been a fast moving fire; it wasn’t going when I left this morning, and now the hills around the valley are all burning. It will be interesting to see what happens overnight, when the winds kick up. For now, I’m going to go outside and clean debris from the pool.


Smokey Bear says: “Don’t Play with Matches”

Remember the “Buckweed” fire last week? It charred more than 38,000 acres and destroyed 21 homes in the Santa Clarita area? Do you know what started it?

According to the LA Times, a boy playing with matches. A Fire Department spokesman didn’t identify the boy or where he lived, but did note “Arson investigators interviewed the young man, and he acknowledged he had been playing with matches and accidentally started a fire.”

He has been released to the custody of his parents. I’m guessing he won’t be sitting down for a while. At minimum.

Somehow, I sense that this story will morph into a cautionary children’s tale about why you shouldn’t play with matches.


Rating the Papers

Living in Los Angeles as I do, I’ve been following the fires with interest. During the day, this has primarily been through the local media. Some observations:

In terms of other media, as usual, KNX 1070 and KFWB 980 have been the radio stations of choice. TV is interesting. Variety has a good article noting how stations moved things around. KNXT (oops) KCBS-2 and KCAL-9 switched off coverage, as did FOX-11 and MY-13. When one went to primetime, the other did news. Others shuffled off programming (either news or entertainment, as appropriate) to secondary digital channels. I think this is a new trend, and may end up being a good thing after the digital TV switch. It certainly shows the benefits of media consolidation in markets, something I would have never thought of.


Fire Reporting and Google Maps.

One of the things that amazes me (well, not really) about the fire coverage is the role that Google Maps is now playing. For example, this map prepared by the Daily News is excellent in how it shows the locations of all the fires, evacuation centers, etc. The Los Angeles Times has also prepared its own map showing where all the various fires are their status. Some, however, stick with the tride and true, non-interactive maps. SignOnSanDiego has prepared two non-google maps: one of the Witch Fire and one of the Harris Fire. The Press-Enterprise also has a non-interactive map.

I think the Google Map interface has its strengths and weaknesses, compared to the traditional. On the plus side, they are easier to update, and can provide much more information. But they seem to be weak (or the folks using them are weak) in showing the current burn areas and the boundaries of each fire–those show up better on the traditional maps.

ETA: Here’s a good link to a number of Google Earth maps.