California really does have the same four seasons that the rest of America has. They just happen to be somewhat subdued in some of the milder climates. The rumor that California has only two seasons, summer and a few days of not-summer, is completely inaccurate. In fact, besides the traditional four season, we have a fifth season that overlaps at least summer and autumn. It reality, this season never ends. It is always ‘fire season’.

Like any other season, fire season affects how we garden here. We prefer to grow plants that are less combustible, which is often contrary to the preference for native specie. In suburban and rural areas, we must manage native vegetation and keep it away from our homes and other buildings. When the weather gets smoky from forest fires, some of us postpone gardening chores for healthier weather.

The Rincon Fire near Paradise Park (not to be confused with Paradise) burned for a few days a week and a half ago, and filled the Valley with thick smoke. By the time that smoke cleared out, smoke moved in from the Camp Fire that burned Paradise more than two hundred miles to the north. Smoke from the Woolsey Fire and the Hill Fire that both started on the same day in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties stayed to the south. The Bear Fire, which was the second relatively small forest fire in our region, started and was contained just yesterday, just a few miles outside of Boulder Creek. Most of us were not aware of it until after it was contained.

Incidentally, a 50% chance of rain is predicted for next Wednesday.

1. Clear blue sky finally appeared on Thursday morning.P81117

2. The orange moon demonstrates how smoky the sky was on the previous evening. It is not easy to zoom in and get a good picture of the moon.P81117+

3. Ponderosa pine forests are the more combustible parts of our region. The darker understory is a mix of coast live oak, canyon live oak, madrone and other chaparral flora. The dead ponderosa pine that I got a picture of for ‘Six on Saturday: Dia de los Muertos’ is to the right in this picture. Sunsets were spectacularly colorful before the smoke blew away. I can not explain why the color was so bland when this picture was taken.P81117++

4. Our debris pile continues to accumulate more biomass from the landscapes and surrounding forests. It is not yet big in this picture. It will get significantly bigger before it gets taken away. Once gone, we start the process all over again. It never ends. There is so much forest out there, and we are constantly trying to keep it away from the buildings.P81117+++

5. These numbers on the side of my work vehicle allowed the volunteer firefighter who used to drive it to go into areas that had been evacuated ahead of forest fires. Several of our vehicles are outfitted with these decals.P81117++++

6. This is the picture that you probably did not want to see. It is what remains of the home of one of my colleague’s clients in Malibu after the Woolsey Fire moved through. The front garden was exquisite. The home was even better.P81117+++++

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

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50 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Fire Season

    1. We have been safe here so far. It is distressing to hear about the experiences of the refugees who are arriving though. Almost all who come here have people they can stay with. However, some will be homeless. That is bad on a good day, but even worse after losing a home and a hometown to a fire. Rain will be excellent, but will not restore Paradise.

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      1. So true. Someone else said rain could bring mudslides, too. I see reports about FEMA but don’t know what’s true. I’ve had family members suffer house fires, lose everything – momentoes, important papers, pets – but in terms of CA, the physical plant of entire communities are lost. Devastating.

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      2. Mudslides are always a concern after fires. The mudslides in Montecito last January were a direct result of the fires from the previous season. We get it all here, although fires such as this are certainly not normal.

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    1. Thank you. During the day today, it became apparent how many refugees are arriving here. After Santa Rosa burned, parking lots here became temporary campgrounds until people were able to go home . . . or settle in.

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      1. You explaining what you’re going thru is not inconsiderate and certainly needs no apology. You are thinking of it there and people all over the country are thinking of you, living thru the most horrible things. It’s a helpless feeling from over here, not being able to do anything to help, and seeing so much destruction and suffering. Be well. 😔

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  1. I hope rain comes soon. Those fires are horrendous. I always think California’s seasons are spring, summer, fire and mudslide. I have friends north of San Francisco and across the street from their house are hills that except for February are bone dry dead grass all the time. When I look out at them, I just see a fire hazard.

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      1. Torrential would not be bad this early on. It does not become a problem until the slopes have been saturated by a rainy winter. Prolonged rain, even if not heavy, is what saturates things. The first good storm is always so much fun that we do not give much thought to problems, even though the first storms are also the messiest, with clogged drains and such everywhere. It will be so worth it!

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      2. Yeah, the air smells different and the roads are slick. Years ago, I was meting a friend who had moved to California for lunch in DC and we were having one of those tropical downpours where an umbrella is not much use. I got to the restaurant with one wet arm and shoulder and wet from the knees down. There was Joe, in shorts and a t-shirt, pretty damp and the first words out of his mouth were “Isn’t rain wonderful?” with crazy grin. Gotta believe it. Even with 60 inches and counting this year.

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      3. My average annual rainfall in town was about a foot. Just a few miles away, on the far side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, I got twice as much. Boulder Creek nearby is one of the rainiest places in California, and gets about seven feet of rain. Trona, where I am considering buying a winter home, gets four inches!

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      4. They are actually full fledged climates. They are why the entertainment industry was established in California. There are so many different environments to choose from within close proximity. If you ever saw the movie ‘Vertigo’ or ‘Harold and Maude’, that is where I live.

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  2. While I understand your comment that it is small, that debris pile could spark a pretty good fire! Our fearless leader suggested yesterday that we should be raking the ground under our forests. I hope he understands a little more when he sees the area today! So sorry to see your friend’s client’s house — when you multiply that by 1,000 in So Cal and 10,000 in Paradise it is truly a disaster! Thank goodness the winds have died down so there can be progress in fighting the fires. We have rain predictions for later in the week (maybe Thanksgiving Day) in So Cal too — bringing concern about mudslides too.

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    1. I would rather have that brush pile out in the open in the yard than out in the landscapes near buildings where it came from. Pruning trees for clearance from fireplaces and heaters is an important task now that the weather is getting cooler. There is no end to it. The forest makes more combustibles faster than we can clear it.

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    1. Until now, the Oakland Hills Fire was the worst we had ever seen here; and it was prominent in the news because it was in Oakland. I saw it, and I still can not comprehend it. I seriously can not comprehend what happened in Paradise. This is supposedly the worst fire in the history of California.

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    1. There are no major fires here. A major storm is expected on Wednesday. It will be the first since early last spring. Some of the refugees arriving here will still be homeless when the rain starts. We will make it work. We always do.

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  3. The fire season is one known to many people who live in and around South Australia, where I live. We have had a dry winter, and there are so many areas with enough growth to fuel a huge fire, if the conditions allow for it. Strong winds from the north, and a spark is all it might take to bring another huge fire close to where I live. I wish it would rain again, but it isn’t happening yet.

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    1. When I was in school, we learned that parts of Australia have climates that are similar to ours. Adelaide is supposed to be comparable to San Jose. Perth is compared to Los Angeles. Yet, we get our rain in winter, and summers are long and dry. It seems odd that your winters are dry, and rain happens in summer.

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  4. Just shocking, Tony. We have been watching what’s happening in California with a sense of recognition. I do hope you receive rain and that it’s enough to put those fires out.

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    1. The fires are slowly being contained, and might be mostly contained by Wednesday when the rain is predicted to arrive. Los Angeles and Ventura counties will not get as much rain, but it should help.

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    1. It is not likely that anyone can make much of a difference. We are aware of the problems, but unable to do much about them. Forests can not be allowed to burn because there are too many of us living here. Without fires, they continue to become more combustible. Treehuggers who believe that they are environmentalists are a major problem that must be addressed. They literally protect the problems.

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    1. Sadly, forests are not managed like they used to be. Nor are they burning as they would naturally. Although coastal redwood forests are not naturally very combustible, they are so now because of how they regenerated without management after the primary harvest a century ago. They would benefit from harvest now. However, the treehuggers want to keep such harvest illegal. So many of the so-called environmental protection laws are very detrimental to the environment that they should be protecting.

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  5. The past couple of years we have been dealing with fear for our friends and family down in So Cal. The Thomas, Woolsey, and Hill fires in Ventura county have hit too close for comfort to their homes and lives. So far everyone has been safe and been able to return to their homes, but it has taken a toll on both their physical and mental health.

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    1. Goodness! I can remember seeing three separate plumes of smoke to the east, west and north, all at the same time. The fire to the west was closest, but across the canyon. The fire to the north was on the other side of the summit. The fire to the east was far away. It was distressing nonetheless. I had nothing to lose there but the forest; but I was seriously worried about my neighborhood. The region burned in the 1950, from a fire that was started up on the ridge at the farm a few miles away.

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