Dried shrubs and wind fuel deadliest wildfire in California

Dried shrubs and wind fuel deadliest wildfire in California

Dried shrubs and wind fuel deadliest wildfire in California

Written by Reuters

19 Nov, 2018 | 1:59 pm

Reuters – One of the main factors contributing to the recent deadliest wildfires in California was strong winds and desiccated shrubs and trees that enabled flames to race and leap over highways and containment lines into residential quarters said a California’s Fire Information officer on Sunday.

Brice Bennett said: “So this fire grew so quickly, so fast, simply because of the weather conditions, because the humidity was so dry and the embers were blown through the air. So the winds were carrying the embers across freeways, even a mile away across lakes. It didn’t really matter. It was carrying those embers so far ahead of the fire front, they all started new fires. So because of the weather condition, it was so dry, the probability of ignition was over 95 percent. So out of 100 embers, 95 would start new fires. And that was what made this fire so dangerous and so fast moving.”

In California, there are many trees dozens of meters high likely to become the “launching tower” for the embers. Under the effect of high winds, embers from far away could start new wildfires.

“The fire grew so quickly in the bush that is around this area and also grew in the trees. When it goes into trees, it creates a shower of embers as well. So it was a just a complicating problem that kept on growing and growing exponentially. So fire crews had to make the first assignment of getting people out safely before they could try to put out the fire. This phenomenon is very, very difficult to fight fire against because it is moving through the air and mother nature carries it wherever the wind blows,” said Bennett.

On how the wildfires could “jump” everywhere, he said: “Right along here is Highway 101 that carries along down through Agoura. This is where the fire blew across the freeway. It was Santa Ana wind event blowing this direction and it was able to carry embers across Highway 101, across many of the lakes and waterways in this area, and carried it all the way down through the canyons, all the way to the ocean.” said.

The Californian firefighting authorities said they have no effective measures to contain such a jumping wildfire and the only recourse for residents in such a case is to evacuate as soon as possible.

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