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From the June 2014 Battle Mountain News

posted Jul 7, 2014, 11:26 AM by Joe Christy

Join Us June 28 To Talk About Evacuation

For our summer public event this year, we are joining with the Bonny Doon Community Emergency Response Team [CERT] to host a community conversation about wildfire evacuation planning on Saturday morning, June 28th, from 11am to 1pm at the Hellenthal Station on Martin Road, adjacent to the Ecological Reserve.

We will have fire officers to talk about the mechanics of how and when an evacuation is declared, planning checklists and other materials. Most importantly, we will have large scale maps of the mountain to facilitate neighborhood-level planning. Recent experience across the west has shown that there are significant differences in the speed with which communities evacuate in the face of wildfire and that those differences are decisive in the loss of property, the area of wildland consumed, and, heaven forfend, the loss of lives of firefighters and residents.

We are all in this together. We need to work together to save ourselves and our neighbors. Please reserve that Saturday morning to come together with us and begin this crucial planning process.

We Need Help in the Cotoni (aka ex-CEMEX) Timberlands This Summer

We are seeking people with experience/interest in birding, native plants, wetland biology, and wildland fire to volunteer to help us begin our two year project to build 9 miles of fuel break along the Warrenella road bisecting the Cotoni timberlands (which the land trusts insist on calling after the last successor of the cement company that originally used it to fuel their kilns) between Empire Grade and the coastal prairie above Davenport.

Professional ecological and archeological surveys are under way, but while our environmental clearances are in process, we need to flag the fuel break. Before fall, when vegetation management work per se begins, we will be establishing boundaries, marking areas for special treatment, and laying out a mosaic of the incredibly rich biological diversity within the treatment area for retention. This is a rare opportunity to see this fascinating landscape before any of it is opened to the public; moreover, a considerable portion of the fuel break lies in restoration and conservation areas which preliminary plans suggest will not be open to the public. Please contact us as below if you are interested.

Fire Weather, Part I

Last month at an inter-agency fire season planning meeting I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Craig Clements of San Jose State University, where he directs the only laboratory for fire weather research in the United States. Prof. Clements' research is not into the “fire weather” we commonly worry about that is conducive to wild fire, but rather the weather produced by fires. While 98% of wildfires are contained within a day at less than 4 acres on average, for the remaining 2% which grow to have a catastrophic impact on the human environment a major factor is the weather that they themselves create. Beyond the anecdotal, everything that is know about the fire weather has been discovered since 2000. Over the next few months I'll be sharing some of those discoveries.

To begin with the anecdotal, most of us have heard that the heat from large wildfires creates a wind and some have seen video of fire tornadoes, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsyvOYcWgcg . The first thing I learned from Prof. Clements is that fire tornadoes are by no means rare; the only thing that is rare is that they become visible. There is almost always enough horizontal shear in even gentle surface winds that the column of rapidly rising air over a fire begets small, but intense cyclones. Wildfires usually burn so dirty that smoke hides them.


 

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