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Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Fuel burns

Southern California is aflame with several massive wildfires eating through thousands of acres of federal land.

That last phrase is the key to the problem. LA suburbanites have built their homes right up to the wooded foothills that house, among others, the Los Padres National Forest. Now, there are two things about this that make the fire so devastating.

One, since the federal land is rugged, fire crews have a hard time getting out on it to put out the fires.

Two, since the federal land is protected, no one has been allowed to clear out the dead brush that is currently feeding the flames. Some of that fuel has been accumulating for fifty years.

The combination of suburbia bordering a massive fuel dump has naturally resulted in the loss of dozens of homes, with many more to come before the fire can be contained. Ironically, the best news for these homeowners is that the remnants of Hurricane Jimena are on their way with far more water than has been thrown at the fire to date.

The other good news is that the burned-over areas are not going to be susceptible to wildfires for at least another few years.

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