Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 8, 2009

Jesusita fire jumps Route 154

Filed under: Risk Assessment,State and Local HLS,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on May 8, 2009

Wildfires

Associated Press photo by Eric Parsons. US Forest Service firefighter Mike Espinoza surrounded by flying embers along Northridge Road in Santa Barbara

The Jesusita fire has reached the city limits of Santa Barbara. Over 20,000 have been evacuated, more evacuations are likely. Wind gusts are exceeding 50 miles per hour. The temperature is 100 degrees. The fire now encompasses over 3500 acres and is estimated to be only 10 percent contained. (Accurate as of 1:25 pm eastern)

4:30 pm eastern Bloomberg updates: Now over 30,000 evacuations.  Good overview and outlook for the season.

ABC NEWS is headlining: All Hell Broke Loose: Santa Barbara Fire Humbles Firefighters.  Video included.

The Associated Press and San Francisco Chronicle filed a new story at 1:00 pm eastern.

See the Los Angeles Time’s  Jesusita Fire Map.

CAL FIRE is providing periodic updates.  They also provide a very detailed fire perimeter map (but it has not been updated for 24 hours).

In the half-hour I have been researching and posting (it is now 1:56 pm eastern) CNN has headlined, “California wildfire expected to gain strength.”

KTMS is the Santa Barbara news radio station.  You can listen to the local webcast.

It is also worth visiting the Santa Barbara County Fire Department site, not for current information but to see the effort they have made since February (and well before) to prepare residents for the wildfire season.

Budgets, policies, strategies, and such are only meaningful to the extent they are effective in prevention most of all, mitigation because prevention is not always possible, response when prevention fails, and recovery of some sort after the response.

In this afternoon’s New York Times report on the Jesusita fire, Governor Schwarzenegger is quoted as saying, “Seventy-five percent of the response cost” would be covered by the federal government. “This is very, very helpful for us,” he said, “because, as you know, we have a financial crisis in California. But I want to reassure you all that even though we have this crisis, we will not be short of money when it comes to fighting this fire.”

This is certainly not the time to refuse help, financial or otherwise. But it is long past time to ask a set of serious policy questions about whether federal funding has long subsidized unsustainable risk-taking by individuals, communities, and States.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 8, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

California is the leading transfer recipient of federal disaster dollars since enactment of the Disaster Assistance Act of 1950 (Public Law 81-875)and the start of the modern post-WWII federal disaster era. A timeline of the 20th century disaster events and policies is available from Clair Rubin & Associates.

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