Saturday, September 05, 2009

Youtube features some timelapse amateur videos of LA wildfires


The Los Angeles Basic wildfires, just like tornadoes, invite a lot of amateur filmmaking. This may be the largest fire in the area ever. (I remember driving through some burned areas in December 1978.) And this time homeowners look across valleys and wonder if the flames really can reach them, or if they will be put in the position of “Lot’s wife.”

But for someone who contemplates moving into the LA basin for job or career reasons (still possible for me some day, whatever the economy now), the wildfire threat seems as potentially destructive as earthquakes, or as hurricanes in the Gulf region.

Here is a time lapse video of the La Canada Flint Ridge Station Fire, by WTK Johnson. The film shows people in rapid motion moving across the "lakeview terrace" to check on the danger, day and night, 24 hour time lapse. Sometimes the wind picks up and it looks scary.


“Willow City Video” has an impressive two-minute video of the start of the Station Fire from the Angeles Ridge here.

There are other time-lapse videos, and at least one from downtown Los Angeles, on YouTube.

The latest media reports indicate an arson investigation. But even accidental carelessness in wilderness areas of this arid region with underbrush can pose enormous danger. It’s better of one does not smoke at all, for example. Carelessness wheb camping can be tragic.

Even so, it seems that most California wildfires are caused by dry thunderstorms or lightning, not intentionally by man. The Huffington Post has an article from June 23, 2008, "800 California Wildfires Caused By Lightning Strikes", with link here. Dry Santa Ana winds make them worse. In remote areas, lightning fires are a natural occurrence, necessary to stimulate some vegetation that waits for fire every four or five decades.

It's surprising that building codes are not even stricter about clearing out dry brush near new housing developments, to build firebreaks. Here is a State of California reference on the codes.

A Weather Channel program Sunday (Sept 6) mentioned steps that homeowners should take, such as removing juniper trees near a house.

Wildfires, even in the Southeast (as near Myrtre Beach SC) have been an increasing problem since the late 1980s, with global warming. In 1988 there were severe fires in the Yellowstone area.

Wikimedia attribution link for public domain picture of a wildfire in California in 2008.

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