Fire in Chatsworth, California (personal story)

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Doctor Q, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #1
    --- News story ---

    News link
    News link
    News link

    There is a major fire, burning since yesterday, in Chatsworth, California, part of the San Fernando Valley in the greater Los Angeles area. It covered 1200 acres by last night and is still burning this morning, now past 7000 acres. With so many homes threatened, the 1000 firefighters battling the blaze took the unusual step of keeping their aircraft in the air at night (usually they put a hold on aerial firefighting, due to the risks, when it gets dark). It was only 5% contained late last night, and at last report was only about 10% contained today.

    This area is 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, along the Ventura (101) and Simi (118) Freeways. This Google map shows the area, with the fire in the northwest (top left) portion. It started near the 118 Freeway and is in the hills north and west of many homes. At least one home had already been destroyed last night, and other structures are gone as well. The priority for firefighters is protecting the residential areas.

    --- My story ---

    I have relatives who live there, along the edge of the housing area, and yesterday evening they called me for help in preparing for evacuation. To get to them, I had to talk my way through a police roadblock. I guess they believed my story that I was helping a homeowner rather than driving into the fire area to gawk, as some people reportedly did.

    I helped pack photo albums, files, and other valuables into my car as they packed up their own cars. Standing on the front lawn, we could see smoke in two directions and flames on the ridge of the hill north of the house, as it came up from the canyons. Whether or not flames came over the hill on the west depended on the wind. High temperatures and heavy winds were keeping the fire going. So far, the wind hasn't pushed the flames eastward into the community. The major streets serve as ready-made firebreaks, but embers carried by wind can let a fire cross roads quite easily when winds are high.

    The flames on the ridge reminded me of lava flows in Hawaii (which I have gone to gawk at), but much scarier because these flames were a mile or two from us and hundreds of other houses. There were helicopters above, and very little noise other than those aircraft and an occasional siren. As it got late (I didn't get home until after midnight), it was still very warm, with the eerie glow of the fire making it a bit surreal, as if there were sunsets in progress in multiple directions.

    Firefighters are performing a full-fledged assault and I hope they will soon get the upper hand, and that I'll be able to return a carload of keepsakes and other possessions to my family tomorrow or Saturday, but they aren't out of danger yet and I'm still worried for the people in that area. And, to no surprise, I'm really tired today.
     
  2. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    #2
    Hi Doctor Q,

    I'm very sorry about the news. My prayers are with you and your family. I hope that they appreciate your generosity. Chances are it is a good feeling of tired. One of accomplishment and feeling of kindness. It was a beneficent act.

    If you want to chat I'm available my friend. ;)
     
  3. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #3
    If only the excess water on the Louisiana coast could be here instead, we'd solve two problems at once.

    I just learned that some close friends may have to evacuate from their home in the Thousand Oaks/Agoura area, further up the 101 Freeway. I haven't been able to reach them on the phone and their home is in the zone where high schools are being turned into evacuation centers.
     
  4. devilot Moderator emeritus

    devilot

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    #4
    How scary! I'm glad that at least your relatives have had some forewarning and are able to evacuate along w/ a few of their possessions in tow. Hope their homes will end up just fine.
     
  5. dubbz macrumors 68020

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  6. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #6
    Thanks for the good wishes.

    My wife finally got hold of our friends in Thousand Oaks. They were told to evacuate at 4am! The fire was above their back yard. They got out, slept a few hours on chairs, and are hoping it will be safe to return home later today.

    I'm sure there are hundreds of stories like this going on in as many families, and there is plenty of news coverage to let us all know what's going on, but nevertheless it's still a shock when it happens to your own friends and family.
     
  7. Calvinatir macrumors 6502

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    #7
    I live in North Calabasas, and I'm in the backyard right now looking at the flames....actual flames from my backyard...
     
  8. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #8
    Apple's laptop computers have had problems with overheating (or overwarming laps), but letting your PowerBook heat up that way is not considered a good idea.

    Seriously, are you going to leave, Calvinatir?
     
  9. m-dogg macrumors 65816

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    #9
    Wow. Not good. Fires freak me out a bit (more than other disaster situations). Hopefully the Fire Dept gets it under control. Or better yet, Mother Nature puts a stop to it.
     
  10. Calvinatir macrumors 6502

    Calvinatir

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    #10
    I'm most likely not going to leave, everywhere north of Thousand Oaks is evacuated..and I'm actually just on the south side of Thousand Oaks (in other words, I'm about 30 feet from mandatory evacuation) . Im in a voluntary evacuation area, which may become mandatory as the evening progresses.
     
  11. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #11
    All of these fires are scary, but nothing I've ever seen compares to the fires of October 2003. That was a regional nightmare. I drove past this fire last night at around 11:00 PM, on the way home from Dodger Stadium. Pretty impressive. It was still around 90° in the San Fernando Valley at that hour.

    Check out the smoke plume from the fire:
     

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  12. devilot Moderator emeritus

    devilot

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    #12
    Oh my gosh! That can't be real... it must be photoshopped! :eek: I really do hope nobody gets hurt. *shudder* Okay, I grudgingly allow for more rainy days. :eek:
     
  13. Calvinatir macrumors 6502

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    #13
    choppers and planes keep flying over my house; this is nuts!
     
  14. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

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    It's real, alright. In fact this is the visible moisture satellite pic. It's not even intended to show smoke, but it does when the plume gets big and thick enough. You should have seen the satellite photo from two years ago. Ten times more impressive.
     
  15. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #15
    The fire has turned back towards the house of my relatives. They are poised on the go/stay point and may stay that way through the night.
     
  16. wrc fan macrumors 65816

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    I guess everybody just decided to ignore my post. I don't mind... I was too busy evacuating. Thankfully the fire has been put out in my area (well there are still random spurts I can see sometimes) but it's safe to return and spend the night. Apparently my town was all over the news... so now it's known for being the (former) home of the Goldmans and having a gigantic fire.
     
  17. wrc fan macrumors 65816

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    I just seem the be the thread killer lately, don't I? Sheesh. I guess I shouldn't post anymore except in threads I want to die. :(
     
  18. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #18
    I think your picture just spoke for itself, and another thread was already running on the fires.
     
  19. wrc fan macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Wow a response! I was beginning to think the new contributors thing was to ignore all my posts :eek: :D

    There was another thread at 5:30am? I seem to have missed it. Could you give me the link?
     
  20. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #20
    We're not ignoring you, wrc fan, although we've been out of sync. I searched for "fire", "fires", "chatsworth", and "valley" before starting a thread, but none of those hit your lonesome thread. I didn't think of "wildfire" - d'oh! With the winds switching directions and the fire back down to 5% containment, are you still out of danger?

    The fire is now more widespread, from Chatsworth on the east to the 23 freeway on the west (see Google map). They are trying their best to keep it from crossing the 101 freeway into the Westlake Village area south of the freeway.

    School districts have now announced the closure of many of the area schools.

    The fire is now burning around the Chatsworth Reservoir (map) and residents have evacuated west of Valley Circle Blvd. There are many houses in danger, and firefighters are defending some of those homes one by one as the fire approaches them. My relatives are packed and still waiting in case the order to leave their home is given.
     
  21. wrc fan macrumors 65816

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    I knew you weren't (maybe :shiftyeyes: ). About 5 minutes after I posted I knew I should've said Chatsworth instead of SF Valley, but by that time my computer was off and in the process of being packed up.

    Fortunately, we are completely out of danger. We can't even see any flames here anymore. The firemen here did an excellent job of containing the fire and letting it burn itself out. This link is highlighted close to where I live (so now you can all try to stalk me :eek: )

    The fire, from what I can tell from the driving I did this evening, has moved south-west towards Calabasas. Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, and Agoura no longer seem in danger. We saw many people evacuating from Las Virgenes Rd in Calabasas. Hopefully Calvinatir is safely away from the blaze as a lot of those people will probably not get any sleep tonight. The air crews seem to be still working on the blaze (or were as of 9:30pm), so with luck no structures will be damaged.
     
  22. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

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    #22
    My cable and internet has been down for the past 2 days so I didn't even know about the fires until I got to work (in North Hollywood) and heard that a couple of my coworkers were told to leave their homes. :(


    Lethal
     
  23. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #23
    They should be able to get a handle on this fire today or tomorrow. The offshore winds are gone and they should turn onshore this afternoon. Considering the extent and location of the fire it's remarkable that only one home was lost.

    The bad news is we're looking at another round of offshore winds next Tuesday. Something else will burn. It's only a matter of what and how much.
     
  24. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #24
    My relatives saw the fire coming down the hill toward them last night but the firefighters stopped the fire's progress along the edge of the hill. They were about 10 houses from the evacuation line, but they got to stay put.

    There are two reasons the weather is blamed for these blazes: when we get less-than-average rainfall, causing brush to dry out, and when we get more-than-average rainfall, causing excess brush growth. It's odd to root for something to be average, but average rainfall is our best insurance against big wildfires like this. Nature is unpredictable one season at a time, but over the long-term fires are a part of the ecosystem and we know they will occur.

    It took only five hours yesterday for the blaze to spread from the Chatsworth area most of the way through the mountains to the south and west toward Calabasas and Agoura and I continue to be impressed at the job the fire teams have done.
     
  25. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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