After burning through a month’s time, 259 square miles and over seventy million dollars, the Day Fire is history. Crews are heading home, scientists are assessing the damage, and homeowners in this area are heaving a big sigh of relief.
What put the fire out? Not the thousands of firefighters, the countless helicopters, engines, and water trucks, the air tankers, or even the DC-10. It was a change in the weather. A tenth of an inch of rain, to be precise.
But interestingly, this fire at this time–although human-caused–might possibly have been a good thing. Better now than during a full-blown Santa Ana, when it could have become uncontrollable. Plus, according to the above Ventura County Star report, few wildlife deaths have been reported.
My favorite story on the piece came from NPR’s Mandalit del Barco, who found not only color that other reporters didn’t (pictures of exotic cats being relocated) but humor (the firefighters’ name for the blaze, which was the Day After Day After Day Fire).
I plan to go into the Sespe wilderness this December, through which the fire burned, to get a picture of what the aftermath looks like.
For now, one last picture from InciWeb, of the fire in all its glory:
2 thoughts on “Turning the Page on the Day Fire”
Gorgeous photograph. Elemental power and fury.
The ultimate effect of the Day (“month” might be better), is perhaps postponed and dependent on the vaguries of our winter storms. Most of the burn lies in the watersheds of the Sespe and Piru creeks, and it’s a phenominal acreage of steep terrain that’s now denuded. Flood stage for the downstream Santa Clara River is 90,000 cubic feet per second, and two winters ago the Sespe itself dumped over 60,000 CFS into the system one stormy night much to the dismay of Santa Paula airport which saw part of its runway swept away. This winter is predicted for a mild El Nino, but who knows – the Santa Clara could hit 120,000 if a “storm echo” event occured on top of a week of saturating rain, or the timing could space storms perfectly for burgeoning regrowth. There’s little we can do about it except prepare to get out of the way. I expect United Water and the state water project are acessing these kind of thoughts and trying to decide what to do with water levels in Piru and Pyramid reservoirs – one would hope there is a plan besides opening the floodgates in a last minute panic as tragically happened in so many places such as Florence in the 60’s, or India just recently. The Missippii runs at 600,000 at New Orleans on an average day – it’s awe inspiring to think that our trickling Santa Clara could reach a sizable fraction of that, if for just a day. At risk here, should a runoff of devastating consequences occur, would be a renewed attempt to dam the Sespe in the name of flood control. A dam on the Sespe would face the same demise by siltation as the Matilija, except faster – but the lynching gang will be there.
The Japanese try to harness pyroclastic flows of volcanoes with levees of giant proportions, and yet the volcanoes stay in control- perhaps we will be facing our own version this winter.