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Daily Archives: May 6th, 2013

Let’s talk about fires.  In particular, wildfires.  In case you’re wondering, a wildfire was partially the reason as to why I didn’t post on Friday (I was in the midst of preparing a filler when I got distracted).

So, what is a wildfire?

wildfire (noun) \-ˌfī(-ə)r\

: a sweeping and destructive conflagration especially in a wilderness or a rural area

If you’ve been following state news, you’ll know that there were a few fires in Southern California recently.  Here’s a map.  The biggest one so far as been the Springs Fire, which started in Camarillo Springs and spread into Newbury Park.

Why does the Springs Fire matter?  Because Clib (and Clia) are located in the Newbury Park area of Thousand Oaks.  And because when I’m working out there, I like to stay in Camarillo.  So, the Springs Fire was kind of relevant to me this past week.  See?


The photo on the left was taken on Thursday around 19:00.  The photo on the right was taken in the same general area (I think I shifted left a bit) on Friday around 15:00.

At the closest, the fire perimeter was a bit more than half a mile from us.  But since we were northeast of the fire and the winds were blowing mostly southwest, we weren’t evacuated.  But it was bad enough on Friday that it was raining ash and soot on us.  It made for a difficult time breathing.  Oh, and I got to drive through the beginnings of it on Thursday going to work.

Wildfires are interesting to me.  Or actually, the weather involved with wildfires is interesting to me.  The Springs Fire was able to grow to 30,000ish acres in a large part because of the Santa Ana winds.  The Santa Ana winds are a strong, very dry katabatic wind that blows from the high desert to the coast.  While they can be a cold wind, they’re generally known to be hot winds.

The Santa Anas happen when the air over the Mohave Desert cools and descends rapidly.  As that chunk of air descends, it generally will heat up from compression and dries out.  The air was actually already quite dry when it got shoved over the high desert, but descending and blowing across the desert dries it out even more.  Now all that air has go somewhere.  So it goes whistling through the mountain passes toward the coast.

The problem with this is that a lot of the area the wind blows through is chaparral.  If the winds are hot and dry, they have a tendency to pick up any stray ember or spark and turn it into a wildfire.  Hence, the Springs Fire.  Or any number of other fires in Southern California’s history.

In this case, there hadn’t been a major fire in this area for over 20 years.  That means there was a lot of brush and undergrowth available to fuel the fire.  The Santa Anas were particularly hot and gusty this time.  Relative humidity had dropped into the single digits.  These are all very good conditions for a wildfire.  And we got one.  And it was made worse because after it had reached the coast, a coastal wind started blowing inland.  That caused the fire to double back on itself and burn areas that it hadn’t burned on its journey to the coast.  It’s a pretty sizable area that’s been burned.

So.  Wildfires.  And weather.  Interesting stuff.

And in case you’re wondering, the title of the post comes from the time when I was trying to remember the witches’ lines in Macbeth (you know the one: “Double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn, and cauldron bubble”) and somehow my brain got stuck and I ended up with “Fire, fire, fire, fire!”  I…don’t know what happened either.