Flames along Ocean Drive in LA County, Saturday night (Getty)
Monday Morning Update: Two firefighters have died. Gov. Schwarzenegger warns fire is “totally out of control.” (6:30 am eastern) Bloomberg has a good overview of the Monday morning situation. The LA Times and CalFire links (below) continue to be best for details.
The Los Angeles Times is constantly updating a wildfires website.
CalFire provides official information at http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current.
At 12 noon Eastern CalFire is reporting the Station Fire, above LA, is five percent contained.
The Watch has given considerable attention to wildfire risk. There is nothing especially unexpected or unique regarding the situation in SoCal or with other fires now burning in California.
Three prior posts with policy/strategy background:
Another post on June 9 highlighted a piece from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This study found,
Because of increasing concern about the effects of catastrophic wildland fires throughout the western United States, federal land managers have been engaged in efforts to restore historical fire behavior and mitigate wildfire risk. During the last 5 years (2004–2008), 44,000 fuels treatments were implemented across the western United States under the National Fire Plan (NFP). We assessed the extent to which these treatments were conducted in and near the wildland–urban interface (WUI), where they would have the greatest potential to reduce fire risk in neighboring homes and communities. Although federal policies stipulate that significant resources should be invested in the WUI, we found that only 3% of the area treated was within the WUI, and another 8% was in an additional 2.5-km buffer around the WUI, totaling 11%.
Earlier today Gov. Schwarzenegger explained that the Station Fire has been especially strong because there is a significant build-up of fuel since there has not been a fire in the area for sixty years.
There are many kinds of disaster. Tragedy requires a sense of heroic potential misplaced. What is unfolding in the hills above Los Angeles fits the definition.