Monday, December 12, 2011

Southern California Has No Fire "Off-Season"

 It is important for Southern Californians to not let their guard down quite yet in regards to Santa Ana Wind-driven wildfires. Although the region has experienced some rain so far this Fall season with some areas having above-average rainfall yet other areas in the region are experiencing a rain deficit. Regardless, with the strong Santa Ana Wind event earlier this month a lot of moisture was stripped out of the fuels which are once again dry, the current rain event notwithstanding. Below are some historical examples of "off-season" wildfire events. Actually, it is generally accepted that Southern California is never fully out of fire season even during the Winter and Spring months as evidenced by the following examples.

December 20, 1977: The Honda Canyon Fire started on the post of Vandenberg Air Force Base and fanned by powerful Santa Ana Winds ran across 10,000 acres in western Santa Barbara County. It overwhelmed the base commander, the base fire chief and his assistant killing all three as well as fatally burning a dozer operator who died two weeks later.

April 28, 1996: The Grand Fire was started by downed powerlines near Fillmore, CA. The same Santa Ana Winds that downed the powerlines also spread the resulting fire over 10,925 acres. No homes were damaged but some orchards were scorched along their margins. 

December 1, 1999: The Rafael Fire burned in the eastern Verdugo Mountains within Glendale, CA. Fanned by Santa Ana Winds it charred over 740 acres, but no structures were damaged.

December 21, 1999: The Ranch Fire was started by fireworks in the Upper Ojai Valley of Ventura County and driven by Santa Ana Winds consumed 4,371 acres and one home.

December 26, 1999: The Santa Anita II Fire was started by an arsonist in Santa Anita Canyon and driven by Santa Ana Winds burned 738 acres above Sierra Madre and Arcadia, CA. It damaged no structures but threatened hundreds of homes nestled in the hills below the fire.

January 3, 2001: The Viejas Fire started along Interstate 8 near Alpine, CA, in eastern San Diego County and was immediately driven by strong Santa Ana Winds. It consumed 10,353 acres and 14 homes.

February 10, 2002: The Gabilan Fire started as permitted burn piles amidst fruit orchards near Fallbrook, CA, which escaped due to Santa Ana Winds. It consumed 5,763 acres and 43  homes and damaged 13 homes.

February 6, 2006: The Sierra Fire started as a prescribed burn on the Cleveland National Forest which escaped due to Santa Ana Winds. It consumed 10,584 acres in Orange and Riverside Counties but burned no structures.

The seeds of this blog posting were sown in my Yahoo groups posting to SoCalFire on January 4, 2007, in group message #19500. That post still appears in the group archives but some of the information has been revised and many of the links appearing there are no longer valid.

No comments:

Post a Comment