Thomas Fire

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Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:36 am UTC

I don't know if this news is too local for here or not:

http://www.vcstar.com/story/news/local/ ... 921986001/

http://readyventuracounty.org

I live in the outer crook of the Ojai Valley (Meiner's Oaks) and preemptively evacuated Tuesday to my girlfriend's house in Oxnard. I usually work from home, so I've been out of work for two days now too. Hoping to set up a partial workstation in girlfriend's living room in the morning so I am not actively bleeding money while waiting to see if my mobile home burns down. The valley is now surrounded on three sides (originally and mostly southeast, partly southwest, and now northeast as well) and entirely under mandatory evacuation via the only road in or out that's still open. At present my house is still further from the fire than the closest evacuation shelters.

I don't know what I expect people to discuss here but I'm having trouble sleeping and thought I should post about it.

ETA: One thing that would be super useful to me, since the official site about the fire (second link above) is so sparse on information, is any newer news articles anyone can find about updates on the situation, especially maps of the fire perimeter. (That one on the official site hasn't been updated since yesterday morning it seems).
Last edited by Pfhorrest on Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:10 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby ObsessoMom » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:52 pm UTC

To us, it's not the Thomas Fire. It's the Pfhorrest Fire, and of course we care!!! Keep us updated. We're sending you positive energy.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:23 pm UTC

If that fire gets close enough to be threatening: Run, Pfhorrest, run!

(All the best.)

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:58 pm UTC

thanks so much :)

I have a temporary workstation set up at my girlfriend's house so I can keep earning money now at least.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:10 pm UTC

One thing that would be super useful to me, since the official site about the fire (second link above) is so sparse on information, is any newer news articles anyone can find about updates on the situation, especially maps of the fire perimeter. (That one on the official site hasn't been updated since yesterday morning it seems).
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Deva » Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:43 pm UTC

How about this .gov site? Links to this map, also. Appears newer.
Changes its form depending on the observer.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:26 pm UTC

Very useful, thanks so much!
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Sableagle » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:28 pm UTC

There's a Google Crisis Response team now.

It's only showing the Fire Warning area, though:

ThomasFireWarningMap.png


InciWeb has a page for the Thomas Fire but it seems to be the same map, updated 42 minutes ago:

Basic Information
Current as of 12/7/2017, 4:14:12 PM
Incident Type Wildfire
Date of Origin Monday December 04th, 2017 approx. 06:30 PM
Location Upper Ojai near Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Ventura City to Hwy 33
Incident Commander Unified Command: CALFIRE, Ventura County, Los Padres NF, Ventura Fire, Ventura Sheriff.

Current Situation
Total Personnel 2,509
Size 96,000 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained 5%
Estimated Containment Date Sunday December 24th, 2017 approx. 09:00 PM
Fuels Involved
Chaparral and brush

Significant Events

Extreme fire behavior with rapid rates of spread and long range spotting when pushed by the winds. On the northeast side, the fire is established on the north and east side of Hwy 150 and is on the west side of Hwy 30. Fire continued to make significant runs overnight, pushing northwest of Ventura and has reached Hwy 101.

Outlook
Planned Actions

Continue structure and infrastructure defense with perimeter control. Direct hand line construction where possible.

Projected Incident Activity

Fire will continue to threaten the cities of Ventura, Ojai, Santa Paula, Casitas Springs and unincorporated areas of Ventura County and spread to the west toward the city of Ojai and continue to move to the southeast into the City of Ventura. With continued forecast for northeast winds and low humidities, fire will continue to spread with high winds.

Current Weather
Weather Concerns

Wednesday, the Santa Ana winds will be weaker with northeast wind gusts between 20 and 30 mph, however, dry conditions will continue with relative humidity in the single digits and low teens.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:37 pm UTC

Stupid question. How does a major fire cross over a highway? Is there any way for California to build a "fire barrier" system?

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby ucim » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:48 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Stupid question. How does a major fire cross over a highway?
It looks both ways before crossing. :)

Small fires can't cross, but a large enough fire raises the temperature over a wider area, and is throwing of lots more embers and other burning stuff, and is generating more airflow. And a highway often has flammable substances in it (i.e. grass in the median) The conditions that make the fire a major one also contribute (topography, wind, dryness), so the bigger the fire and the worse the conditions, the wider the fire break has to be. If the fire is big enough, a highway isn't enough. So it's a matter of planning for the biggest fire you can imagine, deciding whether the land used in a fire break (which is substantial) is worth using for that purpose, and then finding out that the fire that happens is bigger than you planned for, and is somewhere else anyway.

I second calling it the Pfhorrest Fire, and hope he (and all his people) come through ok.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Sableagle » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:55 pm UTC

Radiative heating and wind-blown sparks, I think.

The amount of incandescent material on the burning side gives off a lot of IR radiation, which can heat the stuff on the other side to auto-ignition point.

Also glowing embers get lifted into the air by the fire and blown across the road by the wind. The hotter the stuff on the other side already is, the less of a spark it takes to start a "spot fire" in it.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:58 pm UTC

Most asphalt formulations used for road construction are flammable and have ignition points lower than the highest temperatures observed in high-intensity wild fires.

There are reports of roads literally catching fire during forest fires.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:02 pm UTC

Also support calling it pfhorrest's fire.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:13 pm UTC

ucim wrote:deciding whether the land used in a fire break (which is substantial) is worth using for that purpose,

Worth cross-linking with the discussions about off-carriageway installations here? ;)

(For bonus, arrange so you can gain energy from Seebeck/Peltier exploitation between burning and non-burning sides?? :P)

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:18 pm UTC

Wait, are solar panels flammable?

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Prefanity » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:24 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:Most asphalt formulations used for road construction are flammable and have ignition points lower than the highest temperatures observed in high-intensity wild fires.

There are reports of roads literally catching fire during forest fires.


Yeah, this. Specifically, "asphalt" refers to the viscous hydrocarbon used in various asphalt concretes.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:02 pm UTC

I saw this map which shows the fire having burned clear through my neighborhood and panicked:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/07/m ... e-growing/

so I called my landlord, who says online info about the fire is woefully out of date. says the fire has burned around the north of ojai and blown into the west, where it continues to be blown, further out into the wilderness away from civilization. there's still little bits of fire all around the whole valley, but no intense blazes that threaten neighborhoods. so it looks like it's basically blown past, and ojai valley is likely to be the one little unburned bit in the middle of the huge burn area.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:07 pm UTC

Well, if the fire does hit your house, and your girlfriends house, and you can't find any place near you, and you somehow end up on the opposite side of the country...

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby ObsessoMom » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:36 pm UTC

Warning, Los Angeles Times link, so expect lots of annoying popup ads:

'Truly a miracle' Ojai survived a night of intense fire, city official says (updated 10am this morning)

May Pfhorrest's trailer continue to stay safe!

* * *

Edited to add: Here's a fairly recent animation of the fire perimeter's spread (updated today at noon PST). Again, it's the LA Times, so popup warning:

http://www.latimes.com/local/california ... story.html

* * *

I'm getting intense winds farther south (I live in San Diego, 30 minutes from the Mexican border), but no fires near me so far. Yet. That may change soon.

Perhaps because we are living in the Age of Superlatives, San Diego County (along with Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura Counties) is currently under the first-ever Purple Flag Warning. Until today, the highest degree of fire danger that authorities ever announced was a Red Flag Warning. I'm currently watching hurricane-force winds break branches off my pair of Peruvian pepper trees.

Over the past two days, we've also been having a swarm of earthquakes (several in the 3.0 to 4.0 range) in San Diego County. I didn't really mind them until the one at 3 o'clock this morning, about which I am still cranky. Sheesh, enough with the apocalyptic stuff already!

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Diadem » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:04 pm UTC

Questions from a non-American that are probably obvious to Americans, but:
Why is it called Thomas Fire?

I saw some pictures on Reddit the other day about people commuting through a forest fire ( https://i.imgur.com/IuS83DO.gifv ) . But that was in a very different place, if I can trust Google Maps. Are there multiple fires?

Also: Why the fuck would you commute through a forest fire? Don't Californians like living?
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Liri » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:11 pm UTC

High winds also help fires cross large distances, as you might expect.

A friend of the family's house burned down there. :(
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Sableagle » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:12 pm UTC

US employment law says you get to work or starve.

It's called Thomas because it started ... umm ... let me check my earlier post.
Location Upper Ojai near Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Ventura City to Hwy 33
There you go.

Re: moving to the east coast:

It'd be more useful to move some eastern water west. Looks like Ojai is mostly just below the 800' contour line and French Creek runs into the Allegheny River at nearly 1000', 3512 km away. That's a 1:11522 gradient ... oh. That may not be enough. Awkward damn Great Plain.

Anyway, Allegheny's contaminated since 2009. You'd be trading one problem for another.

Lake Celilo on the Columbia River up north is closer, at 1253 km. That's still a very shallow slope, 1:4111. I think you need more than that.

Background Theory

A = cross-sectional area = depth * width
P = wetted perimeter = the length of contact between the water and the channel = 2 * depth + width
R = hydraulic radius = A / P

Q = A * R(2/3) * slope(1/2) / n

Where n is the Manning coefficient of roughness, 0.01 for glass up to 0.08 for very rough riverbeds. We can call it 0.015 for concrete.

For 1 m depth in a 1 m channel,
Q = 1 * (1/3)(2/3) * (1/4111)(1/2) / 0.015
Q = 0.5000000 m3/s (to 7 decimal places).

Nearly 8000 US gal per minute. That's 40 to 60 fire hoses. That would help.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Deva » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:15 pm UTC

Yes to multiple fires. Sees Rye, Skirball, and Creek fires nearby. Supposedly names them after their origin, as above.

Edit: Map.
Fire Map.png
Changes its form depending on the observer.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:22 pm UTC

That GIF isn't exactly through a forest fire, as those hills are mostly covered in grasses.

That highway is the infamous 405, one of the main arteries of Los Angeles. Sometimes the alternatives to it involve hours of detour.

(That's the Skirball fire on the map above, FYI).

And I doubt the driver is commuting, seeing as how that's at night.

As far as sending water this way: there is a geological theory that the Colorado River once emptied westward through what's now Oxnard (long enough ago that the Monterey oceanic canyons were supposedly down that way back then, and were carved by said river). I'm fully in favor of redirecting the Colorado back into the Santa Clara river basin and sending all that water our way.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby ObsessoMom » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:00 am UTC

Diadem wrote:I saw some pictures on Reddit the other day about people commuting through a forest fire ( https://i.imgur.com/IuS83DO.gifv ) . But that was in a very different place, if I can trust Google Maps. Are there multiple fires?

Also: Why the fuck would you commute through a forest fire? Don't Californians like living?


That footage is from the Sepulveda Pass, where Interstate 405 goes through the Santa Monica Mountains. I used to drive it several times a week. The videographer is headed south from the San Fernando Valley toward the University of California at Los Angeles campus. The Sunset Boulevard exit (the one listed second on the sign) is where one would exit for UCLA. It's a divided highway with very little shoulder, so the only ways to turn around would be either to abandon one's car and go back on foot, or to continue forward to the next exit.

A lot of people from flatter areas don't realize how 3D California is. Lots of mountain ranges and canyons. The urban areas tend to be flatter, with streets laid out in grids, but those grids stop when they run up against a mountain range or canyon. A bottleneck...um, pass...like Sepulveda Pass is often the only way to connect Point A to Point B without going a good thirty or forty miles out of your way, or more. This is why our traffic is so horrible.

(Um, Phforrest, it's a tempting thought, but the Colorado River runs dry most years before it gets to the Gulf of California, because a lot of it is being sent to Los Angeles already. And to San Diego. That's mostly what comes out of my taps.)

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:59 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Stupid question. How does a major fire cross over a highway? Is there any way for California to build a "fire barrier" system?


Big enough fires can jump breaks of hundreds of feet. Size of blaze corresponds roughly to the size of break needed to stall it. Highways do help, but often they're not terribly wide areas of non-flammable stuff. The aforementioned "asphalt catches fire" can happen if it's hot enough, and even if not, wind blown sparks are common, and sometimes various natural things exist in the divider, allowing the fire to hop in stages.

Firebreaks help, but honestly, south CA's a region that pretty frequently has droughts, and everything just dries out and becomes flammable. It's a challenging area for fires, particularly with how many people live there.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:42 pm UTC

Also in the case of the places where the Thomas Fire jumped the highways, those are mostly mountain passes, so the fire spreads from above the road on one side to above the road on the other side, and the fact that there's a road down in that little canyon doesn't really mean much to the fire.

Places where it's jumped highways that I can tell from the maps available:

- Eastern CA-150 between Ojai and Santa Paula, where the fire started.
This is a small two-lane road along a mountain grade, with Sulpher Mountain uphill on its south/west side, and the Sespe Creek downhill on its north/east side. I don't know what side of the road the fire started on but I'd bet on the creek side since that's where things where humans would be are (like St. Thomas Aquinas school after which the fire is named). Once the vegetation around the creek was ablaze, it would just blow up the mountainside, and a few meters of asphalt wouldn't make much of a difference there, the hot embers rising from the fire below would just hit the trees uphill from there either way. "Fun" fact: Sulpher Mountain is called that because it's geologically active, constantly seeping oil and tar down its sides, and the whole area smells of sulpher. I'm sure that that made the fire lots of fun to fight in that area.

- Southern CA-33 between Ojai and Ventura, in Casitas Springs.
This is where the 33 turns from a big four-lane freeway with a median in a broad flat valley, which the fire didn't jump, into a small two-lane road running through the unincorporated community of Casitas Springs, where it has a steep mountain cliff on the east side, and an overgrown riverbed on the east side. (Bear in mind that "rivers" in this area run mostly dry most of the year, so don't make any better fire breaks than roads do). The fire came from the east, blown by winds from the east, which would have blown all its hot embers clear over the road and scattered them across the overgrown area downhill to the west.

- Northern CA-33 between Ojai and the national forest, in Ojala.
This is a part of the 33 that's already a small two-lane road that's only nominally a highway, starting to wind its way into the wilderness outside of town. Ojala is another, even smaller unincorporated community right next to where the highway passes through a narrow pass with steep cliffs on either side of it, so the fire would have been burning above the road to the east, and just blown across the pass to the other mountain on the west. Another "fun" fact, passed down from my landlord who defied the evacuation orders: the rock quarry next to Ojala neglected to evacuate their explosives with themselves, so when the fire passed through there, there were apparently major explosions echoing miles down the canyon, audible from my neighborhood.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby morriswalters » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:55 pm UTC

Move underground and let the fires burn over you. Which, as unrealistic as it might be, is more realistic than bringing in water from elsewhere in the country.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby sardia » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:03 pm UTC

I googled a map of fires to see how close San Diego is to burning. She's in central part, so it looks fine.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:32 pm UTC

One of my coworkers further south says she is threatened by the Liberty and Lilac fires in that area too.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:45 am UTC

Evacuation orders for my neighborhood were lifted today, hurray!
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