2018 November - Paradise California wildfire


For Tomnod, they have to do more to the images. Equals time, manpower, finding old image dates for comparisons, and putting new and old images onto the Tn platform. I think like you do, @kateg Put some of it up for us and still have Open Source. We tagged burnt buildings in Fort McMurray Canada, so why not in California? I’m confused too. I can’'t tag squiggle-polys on ground that is too “close” in coloring to know if it was burned. I’d rather tag ashen building footprints. I’d even like our DRAW campaigns back (though they said no to that long ago).



The numbers just keep climbing… …many want to work on this campaign. :crossed_fingers:



These numbers are horrific… and that the fires spread through these areas without warning time. I haven’t read, and maybe I missed it, the population in the area of the Camp Fire?
This article tells us the number of acres, structures etc.


I believe the population mentioned in one article said 27,000 people.


I completely missed that…thanks. I was wondering how many people had to move quickly to get out, and how much time they were given when the fire first started? It seems to have caught many trying to escape, but I don’t know these areas, and the roads and the terrain.


Mountainous. Hilly terrain. Narrow, rural roads for the most part, or divided 2-lane State roads. Nearer to cities, 4 lane highways, like the 101.

The fires spread by strong winds and transport of embers to new areas. At times, fires make their own whirlwinds, e.g. fire tornadoes. In addition, many areas that burned, like Paradise, had trailer parks and each trailer had a propane tank which caught fire under extreme heat. Homes heated by natural gas added that fuel. Homes with fireplaces likely had a stockpile of timber to burn. (A cord of wood in the US is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLICD83B_qg ) Cars with gasoline, and homes with gas, paints, etc. also fueled the fires. The winds, embers, fire tornadoes, propane, and gasoline (and other ordinary accelerants used in homes and businesses) all contributed to the inferno. All these were in addition to the hundreds of thousands of acres of drought-dead underbrush and trees. Note that most acres were / are Federally owned lands, or privately held, not under State control.

In Malibu, it came over the mountains and within minutes blew into the residential areas.

The 3 major fires competed for the fuels once the fires converged. Fire hopped over ridges, across roads (like the 101), and zipped up neighborhood streets / roads.


Last night I listened to a man telling a NPR (National Public Radio) reporter about how he told his disabled wife that he was heading down the mountain to work. They lived in Paradise. He told her if anything seemed out of the ordinary he would turn around, come back and call out of work. He said as he drove down the mountain there was just a slight haze in the air so he continued on to work. Once he got to work, he found out that the fire had rapidly increased. He immediately headed back home, but when he got to the base of the mountain, a state police road block had been set up. He explained to the trooper about how his wife is disabled, doesn’t drive, and would never leave her cats and dogs. He pleaded for them to let him head up the mountain. He told the reporter they said, ‘Get back into your vehicle, turn around and get out of here. No one is going up onto the mountain.’ (close to those words). He said he spoke to his wife 3 times by cellphone. The last time he spoke to her he told her to go across the street to a neighbor’s house, and if no one was there to stand out in an open area so she could be seen. When he tried to check on her again, all phone service was out. He looked in every shelter there was and no one saw or heard about his wife. When he was allowed to go back to Paradise, he said he actually got disorientated because most of what he knew was just a low pile of ashes. When he got to his home, it too was a low pile of ashes. The poor man was choking up as he spoke with the reporter, so they ended the interview at that. How sad. I’m sure there are many stories like this. Heart wrenching at the least.


I heard the same story. His wife died. It is so very sad and upsetting that no firefighters went up to get her.

Apparently Paradise had a practice evacuation in 2016 that involved that entire town of 27,000. Things could have been even worse it they hadn’t had that practice run, but everything happened so quickly and the roads out there just aren’t adequate for an evacuation.

After the past few years of horrible fires, it has made my husband and I decide there are places we will rule out moving to when we retire.

Last year, my good friends’s mom and stepdad lost everything but their lives in the Santa Rosa Tubbs Fire. They were living in Santa Rosa but their neighborhood was on the edge of the city, next to the wilderness. They even knew that a wildfire was possible and had mentally prepared for it, but never dreamed that things would happen so quickly. Her mom happens to be a light sleeper and woke up when the fire got close. She immediately woke up her husband and things happened so fast they just had time to put on shoes and leave. They didn’t even have time to grab their pet birds. My friend’s stepdad would have died if her mom hadn’t happened to wake up. He was fast asleep. They literally woke up, ran to the car and drove away. They were some of the last people to get out. They didn’t even have time to check on neighbors. There were no evacuation phone calls or alerts. It was around 1 am, so they weren’t awake to even know what was happening. A year later they are okay. They have moved to a new town.

When I was in high school, my family lived in Oklahoma right in “Tornado Alley”. Our town was small, 25,000 people, and the town, as did most all towns in this region, had sirens that were built for warning of a tornado and to get to your planned underground shelter. We had a shelter, and neighbors who did not planned with those who had shelters, to go to those homes in an emergency. They tested the sirens a few times a year and they were LOUD. I think that sirens should be installed to supplement any other warning system in these fire situations. Especially in neighborhoods on the edge of the wilderness (they may not be heard in more rural areas). In fact, I think the sirens should go off automatically when smoke is detected. PG&E didn’t make the phone calls. There needs to be an “impartial” siren that is not worried about whether a situation warrants an evacuation phone call. PG&E is what everyone uses around here and it is a large company traded on the stock market. I do not think that a company worried about stockholders, should be in the public utility business. The California government announced on Friday that they are going to look into whether or not PG&E should be allowed to do business. Maybe we should have a state-run gas and electric utility. It is thought that PG&E was partly responsible for last year’s Tubb Fire and the Camp Fire. They also were 100% responsible for the San Bruno (just south of San Francisco) pipeline explosion back in maybe 2011, which resulted in many deaths and a neighborhood destroyed. All of the issues with PG&E have had to do with cost cutting and pleasing shareholders (your stocks go down if you tell towns they need to evacuate too often).
I am curious to see if changes are made after this fire season.


My son and I had a discussion about government running some things instead of private businesses, I explained to him that a government is there to “provide” and as cheaply as possible, and a private business is there to turn a profit - not just for themselves, but for their shareholders as well. For the latter, safety, personnel and other cost-cutting measures are too commonplace… and the ones that end up paying the price are the consumers. My son’s argument was that big business can do what the government does, but more cheaply. My reply was, “Exactly, remember what I just finished saying?” End of conversation. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I remember growing in Albany, NY and back then they had the warning sirens for a possible nuclear attack. There were two big cone speakers (sirens) mounted so they faced opposite directions on a utility pole at the end of the street. These sirens were in every neighborhood. When they were tested, you could hear yourself think! Eventually they stopped testing them and they just sat up there unused. Back then music was a very big thing and it seemed like nearly everyone was in a local band. Little by little guys would climb the poles, cut the wires to the speakers and lower them to their buddies. They worked great with their amplifiers for guitars, etc. They could handle quite a bit of power. All the guys had to do was to build boxes for the speakers.

Where I live now there are 3 volunteer fire companies in just this town. In the town to the south (different county) there are 3 volunteer fire companies. In the town to our north there are 6 volunteer fire companies. At every fire station there is a tower with at least 2 horns for their sirens. Most days we can hear all 3 of our town’s sirens, 2 from the town in the next county, and 2 from the town to the north. We can even hear the sirens from 2 fire companies across the river! So yes, I believe that sirens would be a good thing to use. All of our sirens are tested every day at a set time - usually at 6 PM with the exception of the companies in the next county… they test theirs at 7 PM. Should a siren fail, it’s fixed immediately or at least by the next day. There are fire companies in the hill towns that get their sirens tested weekly by the county fire dispatcher on Saturday’s, but their sirens also are set to go off for one “round” at 6 PM every day. Actually, our fire company used to have 2 sirens themselves, one at the old fire station down by the river and the other that was on a tower behind a gas station/repair station. After the owner retired and shut down, the fire district purchased that property and built a new and larger fire station up there - right at the top of the hill. For some reason they did not install a new siren up there. I think it had to do with the fact that the old multi-story school that the fire company owned and sold to a developer who put in senior housing. I guess they didn’t want to disturb the old folks with the siren being right across the street. We used to call it the Civic Center because we had a bar, kitchen and gymnasium/auditorium with a stage where we held bingo weekly, rented the hall out for weddings and birthdays, etc… We even used it for people to come to warm up and eat when there was a major power outage. It also served as a polling place (now it’s the new fire house).
Yes, sirens would be a big help, but they would have to take into consideration the wind. If the wind is blowing toward the siren, it’s reach would be diminished. So they would need to have them every so many miles to be effective. Let’s see what “improvements” they end up with.


Good point. Maybe pointing in opposite directions like your Cold War relics/ amplifiers. Hopefully the people in the local/regional Office of Emergency Services are thinking of solutions.


That is terrible @Kateg. TG they are okay and are able to start over. Very hard at this stage of your life. Our fire departments have control over the sirens and they also have control over NotifyNow in their command centre. NotifyNow - It sends out a text, email and automated call (to landline or cell) if there is an emergency approaching - winter storm that will close all surrounding highways, tornado, bush fire that has become a threat, etc. This system is tested twice a year. It can be used by all residents of the city as well as surrounding area…about 25 kms. How would someone be notified in this area for such an event about to happen…just the sirens…or with this type of system also?

We have a province run gas and electric company and that is all I have ever known in our province.
They are publically responsible fiscally and in all other areas.

EDIT: I read now that the area will be hit with strong winds today 50 mph…


Was just having a discussion my son about this only this morning, before I logged on here. There are plus’s a minus’s to everything. Back in the 70’s when public transport and utility’s were government run we were having many union strikes - gas/power cuts, bus/rail strikes, miners strikes etc. which basically held the whole country to ransom. It followed on from a discussion about fake news on the internet, cyber security, hacking, and how all that can hold a country to ransom.



@Mel_Nod, could we please tag imagery once the smoke has cleared? See below my comments below for an excerpt from from the above article:

(Maybe Someone would want to fund those maps, like the same group who paid for the last set of fire images in California (two years ago?). Sorry, if this is bothering Tomnod, we all just feel so desperate to help. Even if there is an algorithm, human eyes would be better, and we would finish it in a snap. Maybe Digital Globe could donate the imagery to Tomnod to help with their algorithm development?? We could also dust off Tomnod Draw to trace boundaries of burnt areas. Perhaps this could help with algorithm development? Then the results of our tagging/boundary drawing could help local communities understand where the burn occurred. Scientists could use this dataset as well. I don’t know if the communities have money to buy the imagery. The California state priorities right now are shelter and food for the displaced. The maps are something that may not be on their radar right now, but would be useful later to understand fire damage. They could gather other information like wind conditions, barometric pressure, and temperature to better understand the fire. This fire was hampered by the high pressure system sitting on top of the greater region and slowing the distribution of smoke. How did this affect the spread of the fire? Just one example - there is a wealth of information to be gained from analyzing the imagery.)




Oh they needed that rain so badly…I hope it is enough to put out most of the fire!


Air quality is back to green for whole region including the fire region (except right next to fire). 90% contained.


Here is the historical geographic coverage of the Camp Fire: