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Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to discuss wildfire fighting program

Original post made on Sep 1, 2020

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is set to review numerous solutions to address the increased threat of wildfires, including the creation of a Wildland Fire Program.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 1, 2020, 9:16 AM

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Comments (12)

9 people like this
Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 1, 2020 at 1:32 pm

ALB is a registered user.

This article describes how our climate has changed to be like that of Southern California where there is more experience in mitigating fires. Why not study the techniques employed by the Native Americans who for thousands of years used fire to prevent fires. I do not see how herbicides can do the job. Santa Clara County needs more equipment, technology and fire fighters to be prepared. The Diablo winds will return in autumn. Hopefully this August lightening storm is a fluke but we cannot bet on that being so. I applaud the supervisors for taking this critical issue seriously.


21 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 1, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

We are as unprepared for wildland fires as we were for Covid 19. Prevention and the creation of standby emergency response capability - not paper plans but people and equipment - are always underfunded because we believe it won't happen here.

WRONG! Sept and October are our highest wildland fire risk months.

The next big fire could very easily be on the Bay side of Skyline with thousands of homes that are NOT DEFENDABLE because they have happily been built in fuel rich areas (trees and brush) on narrow roads that will both impede evacuation and fire response. Many of those homes will be destroyed and hundreds of people will be trapped attempting to evacuation and may well perish.

Former US Forest Service Smokejumper


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 1, 2020 at 5:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

And these weather forecasts will make the situation much worse:

Record heat possible once again Labor Day weekend; wildfire risk to worsen following reprieve
Filed in Weather/Climate Discussion by Daniel Swain on September 1, 2020 • 101 Comments

"The GFS ensemble has recently started to disagree–and now suggests the potential for a potent early-season “inside slider”-type low pressure system to drop southward over Nevada and interior California in the 7-10 day period. If this were to happen, I would expect a fairly dramatic cooling trend (which would be good news), but also a potentially significant offshore/north wind event (which would be very problematic) along with continued dry conditions. At this point in time, neither of these scenarios would be great from a fire weather perspective, especially given that there are still numerous large fires burning across NorCal that will likely still be burning 10-15 days from now. I really do wish I had better news to pass along about the weather to come, but the reality is that autumn is often peak fire season in coastal California due to the increasing prevalence of offshore wind events. Most of the state probably has at least 2 months of fire season remaining, perhaps 3 (or even 4 in SoCal). My hope is that we can at least avoid a large number of additional fire ignitions in the coming weeks and months given the extremely dry state of the vegetation and the ongoing fire crisis, but given the realities of modern California that’s more wishful thinking than anything else. Stay safe out there."

Web Link

A week of high temperatures will reduce the fuel moisture to less than 10% and then high winds will follow. One spark is all it will take to create an inferno. The only way to prevent a big fire is to hit every little fire with overwhelming force within minutes - sadly we do not have that capability in the Bay area. And the only way to stop a big fire is a big change in weather which increases the humidity, has no wind and, finally, rain. Remember the LNU fire jumped 8 lanes of Highway 80 in Vacaville - you cannot build fire lines that wide.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 4, 2020 at 11:43 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As predicted:
"As if the Bay Area didn’t need any more headaches, the National Weather Service on Friday issued a “fire weather watch” for the East Bay Hills and North Bay Hills for Monday night at 10 p.m. through Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. With low humidity levels, hot, dry winds are forecast to blow toward the ocean from Utah and Nevada, reaching up to 45 mph at higher elevations and spiking fire risk from San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos to Santa Rosa, particularly on Tuesday."

Please be very careful with all fire sources(barbecues, lawn mowers, auto exhausts, etc.) and be prepared to evacuate. Have a go bag and a plan and don't wait to be told if you sense danger.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 12, 2020 at 1:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Well folks things are not getting any better and we still have at least two months of fire season to go.

Here is another perspective:

"Witnessing the urban fire in Paradise, some of those we interviewed for our book no longer thought it fanciful that a fire that could maraud into the very heart of a major city, such as Los Angeles, San Diego or the communities of the San Francisco Bay."

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 13, 2020 at 12:54 am

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

Peter Carpenter,

"...Prevention and the creation of standby emergency response capability - not paper plans but people and equipment - are always underfunded because we believe it won't happen here."

My observation is that funding and attention depends on politics (like everything). How often have we heard political candidates or folks in office say they want people to come to them with "solutions" (not problems).

"Problems" is what risk management science is all about. Problems which don't have easy solutions or can't be foreseen. Politicians don't have a standard to leave their county, city or state "better prepared" for something when they are gone. So - am glad to see the term "risk" come up here and suggest that risk management has been the road less traveled with politicians. Unlike Covid, in the case of fires, googling risk management and fires I get enough hits to know that this issue is not new.

I also applaud the supervisors for taking this seriously and suggest that funding will follow when risk management is elevated in the culture of government and leadership.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2020 at 10:09 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

For anyone who thinks that "it can't happen here" on the flat lands of the peninsula look at this graphic video of the wind driven Alameda Drive Fire which started in north Ashland Or and destroyed most of the towns of Talent and Phoenix. Note the relatively light tree canopy - most of the fuel was the homes themselves.

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 13, 2020 at 10:18 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Problem 1 is the amount of overgrowth of vegetation which dies in the heat and is next to road ways and public parks. SU uses cattle to clear the hills next to 280 of overgrowth. Managed goat herds have been used to clear poison ivy and berry bushes on golf courses and public park areas. VTA used goat herds at 237 and Zanker Road when they had a large facility there. That whole area in the Baylands was over grown and hard to get to places.

Suggest that each city look at where they are vulnerable regarding overgrowth, especially next to public access areas. Shoreline is vulnerable regarding over growth. Palo Alto also has overgrowth down at the shoreline areas next to 101. I look at the flood control at Louis Road and the giant ditch has dead matter in it - large dead bushes. Is it coming from the higher elevations?

Each city should review where their weaknesses are next to parks and homes. Also look at homes which are not keeping their overall landscaping clear of overgrowth and cite them - get them going on clearing the overgrowth and dead vegetation. Also overgrowth on trees which stress out when it is hot or fall leaf drop time. Home owners have to manage their properties individually.

The city garbage collectors need to accommodate additional leaf bags in excess of the plastic cans. If people are limited by the garbage collector provided cans then that has to be renegotiated.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2020 at 10:25 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Resident - look at the video. Very little of this fire was carried by vegetation - the largest fuel source was the homes themselves. Things like combustible roofs, unscreened soffit vents, etc allowed the homes to easily catch fire and burn and when they did the heat and embers from each of those homes spread the fire to other structures.

This is not somebody else's problem to manage vegetation - it is everyones problem to both manage vegetation and to build/retrofit fire resistant structures.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 13, 2020 at 10:37 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I was in Maui when a major fire was in process in the hills at a major intersection regarding the west and south hotel areas. We all had to wait at the bottom. At some point they had to let out the people going to the airport and let in the people arriving from the airport. We all drove through with flying embers going every which way in the wind generated by the fire. The embers were gigantic. That whole transition point has been rebuilt with a new highway that has no growth next to it.

They are building new transition points so that people can be moved from point a to point b on roads that have very low vegetation. Since they are in the tourist trade then moving people around the islands safely is a major concern. They put money and manpower into clearing the public places.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 14, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Some very useful guidance as to what each of us can do to address the risks of wildland fires:

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2020 at 10:11 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In much of the wildland urban interface on the Bay side of Skyline Ridge this exact same scenario could easily occur:

Web Link


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