28 November 2008

Firestorm in Carbon Canyon, Part VII

There are plans to have a meeting at Western Hills Golf Course to discuss the recent Triangle Complex fire that affected Carbon Canyon and, I suppose, Chino Hills generally, moderated by the local fire chief and city officials. I'm all for that and definitely would want to be there and it has been said that community officials want to hear from residents about their experiences.

There will, I'm sure, be some people who, as was the case at the briefing I attended on the Monday evening before we were allowed to return home, will criticize officials for not doing enough or not being there at a certain location at a particular time to fight the fire or who really feel that citizens should stay and assist in fighting the fire and maybe some of it is warranted in isolation.

But, looked at in context, it bears remembering that a great many firefighters risked their lives to protect the various communities in the canyon and that placing blame achieves nothing, even if it is completely fair to point out missed opportunities, mistakes, and offer substantive suggestions without questioning motives or making unfair and misplaced accusations.

Moreover, the comprehensive fire planning that has taken place over the last fifteen years or so, planning that was all but non-existent in 1990, went a long way toward the successful defense against the fire.

I would like to hope, however, that there will be some discussion about a few essential points:

1) this fire started miles and hours away, which gave essential lead time to implement the defense plan;

2) if this fire had started in the canyon with the conditions of severe drought, low humidity, strong winds, and high fuel content in plant materials, the results would have almost certainly have been disastrous;

3) almost all homes lost in this fire did not exist 20 or 25 years ago and in some cases much sooner;

4) the intrusion of suburban development in wildland areas is a policy decision that portends catastrophe in wildfire situations, and

5) there has to be a limit to what should be built in the canyon, not because of NIMBYism, but because of inherent risk to natural disasters, as well as other significant effects relating to traffic, loss of natural habitat, pollution, declining infrastructure and other issues.

As soon as a date for the meeting is announced, I will post accordingly and, hopefully, there will be sufficient publicity elsewhere to assure a good attendance.

Meantime, here are some more photos from my excursion yesterday morning in the Brea side of the canyon:

1) The canyon up which is the proposed entrance road to Canyon Crest just east of the burned-out Manely Friends stable and house.

2) The canyon bottom west of Hollydale Mobile Home Estates.

3) A burned out abandoned car and other debris at El Rodeo Stables.

4) Looking south toward the confluence of Carbon and Soquel canyons.

5) Burned arundo at the La Vida Mineral Springs property (is this an opportune time to try arundo mitigation before it quickly springs back?)

6) Charred hillside south of Hwy. 142 near La Vida--a prime candidate for mudslides this winter?

7) Scorched "Manely Friends" sign lying on the ground at the entrance to the destroyed stables east of La Vida.

8) This is where the proposed main entrance to Canyon Crest will go, just east of "Manely Friends."

9) Carbon [Canyon] Creek on the north side of Hwy. 142 just west of Sleepy Hollow.

10) An ironic happy face spray painted on a rock with burned vegetation behind it, north side of Hwy. 142 a little west of Sleepy Hollow.

11) A view of the south side of Hwy. 142, west of Sleepy Hollow, showing absorbent material placed at the base of the hills throughout the canyon to mitigate mudslides. Rainfall, though at about 1 1/2 inches, was not hard enough to trigger mudslides--FOR NOW!

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