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    an idyllwild weather clam!

    Our gal, The Idyllwild Weather Clam thinks that it will rain again today.

    Tuesday 22 August 2017
    Currently at 4:54 AM 57°

    Up to the minute now-casting provided by: Idyllwild Weather Clam Mega-Skyview Ultra-Precision Doppler 160000 Super Computron Forecast in Full Spectrum HD

    Entries in fire (17)



    This was just the beginning of our troubles.


    You may have heard that we're having a little hubbub up here. Due to an inconvenience we like to call the Mountain Fire, encroaching on our pristine and very piney paradise, authorities asked everyone to evacuate last evening. 

    Reflecting back, maybe "ask" is the wrong word.

    I have found shelter at a location very near the Festival of Dirt where I could see flames running up to the ridgeline this morning. Not very comforting at all.

    I'll try to keep you posted here as events unfold, but for more up-to-date news, I'm sharing other people's posts on Facebook. Maps, photos, pessimism, it's all there!

    Stay safe.

    Your pal,

    - bob


    Dryer! Sheet!


    My workplace, the far eastern outpost of San Diego's omnipresent charitable organization, was very blinky when I arrived this morning. Not only were the fire alarm strobe lights flashing in their moribund death-to-disco cadence, but a local news crew was set up in the parking lot with their remote news van, microwave antenna fully extended (burritos not included).

    The clients who were doing chores this morning looked like they'd been up all night, and they had. "We've been up since 3:00 or something. There was a real fire this time. You should go look at the laundry room." I joked, "as long as you don't say 'you should go look at the server room,' everything will be okay." I got some tired chuckles, then headed off to see the damage. One of the industrial dryers was well done and its glass door shattered. The next one over was singed and it was clear that the fire suppression sprinklers had worked perfectly. I don't know the cause, but somebody mentioned that some "dumbass" had left the thing running for hours and hours, which I find hard to believe.

    Dumbasses? Here?

    In the meanwhile, the place smells like Barbie's Glamour Waste Water Reclamation Plant and Deep Pit Barbecue.

    Good luck getting that image out of your head.

    And also, you're welcome.

    And, happy Monday!

    - bob


    The Junction of Highway 74 and Goodbye

    Them's some big rocks, chief.

    This has been a pretty big storm, but without the media play that the last received. Sure the snow was inconvenient, but the rain over the last few days has been unrelenting. Mix into that the already saturated hills and the denuded burn areas from the Cottonwood Fire, and now we seem to be missing a big chunk of Highway 74 just outside of Mountain Center.

    As always, please read the Town Crier Breaking News blog for more details (without any sort of judgement about whether it may be a blessing to not have to go to Hemet) and if you're really bored, go take a look at the Press-Enterprise's wall-to-wall coverage (very short walls, btw).

    We could lay some 2x6s across that chasm and be ready for the Monday commute—if you're really, really careful.

    - bob


    A Public Service Announcement

    Only you can, only you can...

    I had no idea that this year marked Smokey Bear's 65th anniversary, but apparently everyone else did, including El Orosito Bombero himself who got something of a makeover this year. A new suit, a new ad campaign, new videos, and you can even friend him on Facebook. It's a far cry from his previous social networking campaign...

    Only you can lick and lick and lick.
    All this leads up to Adventure Pass free day in the national forests on Veteran's Day, November 11th. Come enjoy the joint for free and refrain from burning it down, okay?

    Your pal,



    Fire Incident Town Hall Meeting

    Forest Service, CalFire and Idy Fire folks speak to an anxious crowd in the Idyllwild School gym.

    Folks in my little town are anxious. Freaking out. There's a little 2,200-acre fire not too far away, and we've had a tough time getting solid information about its progress. Clearly network teevee couldn't really be bothered with the story. The newspapers surrounding the hill are making a cursory attempt, but as usual, the Town Crier has stepped up its game. Between their Facebook presence and their breaking news blog, they're making the big media outlets look like chumps. Chumps!

    A lovely left-aligned image...
    What I've been looking for though, has been a map of the fire's perimeter. It's not on the InciWEB site, CalFire's site, nowhere. Maybe there's a map behind this group of people...

    Cottonwood Fire perimeter map. Finally.
    Ahh. There we go. Very helpful!

    - bob

    UPDATE: Click on the bottom photo for a much larger version in another window. Not for dial-up connections...


    Fire Near Idyllwild

    image courtesy Idyllwild Town Crier

    There's a little 400-acre fire burning about six miles from Idyllwild Arts up here in my little burg. Here's a link to the Town Crier Breaking News Blog, but few other sites seem to feel that the news is worth covering. CalFire even seems bored by the thing. The Palm Springs Desert Sun has a little story (didn't bump dead politicians on their front page though) that covers the basics but misses the bigger story. The Jazz In The Pines fundraiser for that very private arts high school is this weekend. Will it be burned out? If the highway stays closed, how will the throngs get here? Will they just turn around after hearing about the flamey flames?

    And who was supposed to be watching Mrs. O'Leary's cow?

    - bob

    UPDATE: Sandra on Facebook sent this link to the InciWeb site. You may not know this, but she's awesome.


    This Amazing Year! - Vision Of Evil Convicted Of Evildoing

    Oh, you know.Friends,

    A Riverside County jury, after deliberating far longer than I would've required, has convicted Raymond Lee Oyler of murder and arson. Future resident of hell, Oyler, was found guilty of starting the Esperanza Fire, killing five firefighters and burning down homes. The penalty phase of the trial is anticipated to take up to four weeks to complete, but once again, I can speed up the process!

    Let's look at the facts: he's been proven to be fond of fire, he looks down a lot, and we can really do without this guy hanging around. That's right, I'm recommending exacting brutal vengeance! Either I'm recommending it, or the cold medicine is. You be the judge!

    Your best pal in the whole (now brighter) world,

    - bob


    Red Flags


    Today, being the first day of July, is marked by the extreme fire danger in my little plot of paradise. Will some damn fool decide that his need to see things flashy and sparkly and boomy override the public's right to not live in a giant ash bin? The safe and sane fireworks stands are open in the desert this week. Cathedral City (home to the Jaunty Parents) and Indio (the "City Of Festivals," primarily of dirt) have thrown caution to the wind and decided that fireworks should be legal! Whoopee!

    I hope their fire departments are willing to drive up the hill to help out. You know, if it should prove necessary.

    - bob


    Log Used As Wilderness Ashtray, Fire Ensues

    Talk about your brain-dead moves. You're hiking through heavy brush then reach a peak that affords a gorgeous 360-degree view. What better time to have a smoke and take it all in. But where, pray thee tell, does one extinguish said incendiary device?

    A rotten log seems like a good bet. What could go wrong?

    First Apache Fire map from InciWeb.org.click to embiggen

    This is the first map that I've seen of the fire perimeter posted by the fine folks at InciWeb.org. The first thing you'll notice is that the whole area is pretty much roadless. I have old USGS maps that show roads up there, but they were removed through...wait for it...legislation!

    I wasn't sure if I should post this second picture from the CalFire blog, but here goes...

    The burning log and the mysterious 'Steffi.'

    This is a shot of the burning log noticed by one Pacific Coast Trail hiker and includes mysterious hiking companion "Steffi." They tried to put it out, but the wind got the best of them. You're on your own for dreaming up your own personal "Steffi" narrative. That's what the comments section is for, after all.

    - bob


    Hand Crews Bring Hands, Holding, To Apache Fire


    Apparently our little 700 650 700+ acre wildfire is no longer news. The only information you'll receive from now on is from the relentless Jaunty Little News Team and the CalFire blog. We'd like for Jaunty meteorologist Dr. Barry Spoon (68th in the class of '84 at Universidad do Chiropractico in Caracas) to get a little rest after a full night of pouring over charts and graphs, so let's see what CalFire has to say as of 7:00 this morning...

    Fire is burning in the San Jacinto Wilderness but is visible from many areas.
    Hand crews accessed the fire and established an anchor point and began building fire line along the ridgetop and the handcrews have spent the night Coyote on the fire and more crews will hike, fly to fire this morning.
    Winds have died down and based on fire weather forecasts, fires projected movement is expected toward the South by South East.
    Medium ROS, 15 mph winds, smoke, heavy downed timber, moving into brush.
    The Steep terrain have made accessing fire difficult and ground resources have lengthy travel times to access incident.

    640 personnel on fire, Resources assigned include 28 handcrews, working the fire in very steep terrain today. Aircraft should fly due to favorable weather and light winds.

    Got that? A ton of guys had a hard time getting here and can't fly to the fire, so they'll have to walk. With huge packs. Then fight a forest fire.

    Would it be weird if I brought them cookies or something?

    - bob


    Because We're Supposed To Worry About This


    Some flamey flames on the other side of the ridge this evening. Here's a shot from Palm Springs (via the Desert Sun):

    A vivid example of rapid oxidation.
    We're not really supposed to be alarmed though. My little burg is, at this time, not threatened. Let's have a surprisingly responsive news media explain it...

    Smoke and flames from a wildfire burning near Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains is visible across the Coachella Valley tonight.

    The fire, which burned about 1.5 acres as of 8 p.m., can be seen at least as far east as La Quinta and was even more visible at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains.

    “It’s coming down the ridge over on to our side of the mountain ... very high up ... but we can see it and certainly smell it from Andreas Hills,” said Marie Weigel in an e-mail to The Desert Sun. She is wife of Palm Springs City Councilman Lee Weigel, who lives in the Indian Canyons area.

    The fire was reported about 4:35 p.m., U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Valerie Baca said.

    Firefighters are hiking 3.5 miles, starting at Keenwild Station, on the Pacific Crest Trail to reach the blaze in the Apache Peak area, she said.

    They are expected to remain at the scene all night and continue their battle Wednesday morning.

    Not my idea of a fun nature hike, that's for sure. Updates as they occur...

    Your pal,

    - bob

    UPDATE: Oh yeah, KESQ is covering it too. Fewer words, more pictures...

    Hey kid, get a shot of that smoke.

    Fire crews from the U.S. Forest Service have been called in to battle a brush fire that sparked Tuesday evening in the Apache Peak area near Idyllwild.

    The fire has burned at least 1.52 acres by 7 p.m., Forest Service officials said. Officials, though, are still assessing the acreage burned.

    Firefighters are hiking to the fire to battle the blaze.

    Officials say the town of Idyllwild is not being threatened.

    Well, not threatened. That's good. I love officials.

    UPDATE II: Hey Bob! Where's Apache Peak fer crissakes! It's here:

    View Larger Map

    UPDATE III: The Desert Sun (which seems to be the only halfway serious news organization to be covering this thing) has a new article with a News Infographic™ to explain where the fire is. Kind of like the Google terrain map above. Scooped!

    UPDATE IV: The Idyllwild Town Crier weighs in at 8:00 AM on Wednesday with essentially the same information you've already read, except for one thing. As is their custom, breaking news can be a teachable moment:

    Apache Peak, named sometime after 1867, is a double-headed mountain along the Desert Divide in the State Game Refuge Boundary of San Jacinto Wilderness. The highest of Apache's summits is the westernmost with a height of 7567 feet, while the eastern summit reaches approximately 7400 feet, barely a quarter of a mile away.

    Now class, I want everybody to take out a clean sheet of paper...

    UPDATE V: I'm now looking at the CalFire blog (of all things) for the latest from the Forest Service. Not encouraging:

    Apache Wildland Fire
    Current sizeup: 650 Acres - 0% containment - Potential for 3000 acres [emphasis added - ed]

    Now it's time to get worried.

    UPDATE VI: Here are a couple reasons for people on The Hill to be encouraged:

    • The wind, although it's gusting up to 40 MPH, is heading West to East. This pushes the fire away from us.
    • On my way back to the Lodge this afternoon, I noticed that somebody had managed to bring a helicopter with a bucket to the party. The levels at Lake Hemet are a little lower this afternoon. Maybe they're dropping trout and bass on the fire. It's a Fish Show!
    • According to InciWeb, they've replaced the incident commander. Hard to know why. The first guy did such a nice job letting a 5 acre fire expand to 700+ acres. (um, you've heard of wind and dry brush, right? don't you think it's possible that there were circumstances beyond his control? - ed He had to go! An utter disaster! Boo! easy there, sport. - ed


    But He Looks Good Doing It


    I have happy news for the victims of the Southern California wildfires. Former FEMA director and discredited jackass Michael Brown is ready to accept your consulting dollars to help with your evacuation and recovery! The press release makes it clear that he thinks that he's pretty sure he's got a handle on how to help, kinda:

    Currently, the brush fires are affecting hundreds of local businesses and have forced more than 500,000 people out of their homes. Of these 500,000 people, an estimated 10,000 of them have taken shelter at the local NFL stadium, Qualcomm, vaguely reminiscent of circumstances of Hurricane Katrina evacuees two years ago.

    "The agency has learned some hard lessons regarding the handling of mass evacuations especially in regard to the bureaucratic red tape that is involved in such a process," said Mr. Brown. "This is a tragic time for many of the people of California, and Cotton Companies is working to ensure that normalcy is restored and that businesses and organizations are back up and running as soon as possible."

    Vaguely, sorta similar. In a way. Like, um, football or something.

    - bob

    P.S. Thanks BoingBoing!


    Do You Snore? - UPDATED

    Imagine a campfire without a forest...

    Above is a NASA photo from yesterday (click to go to NASA's site) showing the plumes of smoke from the fires. If you look at the little red dot indicating Lake Arrowhead, I think that was the smoke I saw tumbling into the Hemet valley last evening. If you look at the other dot depicting Fallbrook, that would be the glow I saw over the hill during my drive to work this morning.

    My house in the heart of Fire Danger Central has been offered up to San Diegans as an evacuation center (!). A move which is sure to peg the Irony Meter. No?

    - bob

    UPDATE: This is an updated picture from NASA showing how the smoke has really started to swirl since the winds have died down. Folks down in the Festival of Dirt are starting to get a sampling of what everyone in San Diego and Los Angeles have had to breathe since Monday. Maybe the snowbirds will toss a couple more Loonies towards the Red Cross now that it's affecting them too...

    Imagine a campfire without a forest...


    Reddy Kilowatt, Indeed


    The forest surrounding my Secret Alpine Laboratory is getting whipped around by 50+ MPH winds right now. The power is out and I'm, um, "sheltering in-place." The ringer on my analog phone isn't working, so if you need to call, just ping me on the cellphone and I'll spin the rotary dial on the home phone to call you back. My thinking at this point is that I should save the batteries on the cellphones as much as possible. Who knows when the power will be back up? So. Cal. Edison doesn't.

    I've laid in firewood, picked up more batteries, and I'm set. The rest of Southern California isn't doing so well though. There's a new fire at the junction of the 15 and the 215 and apparently the fire in Aquanga has been contained. Luckily, there's no other danger (beside the wind) in my immediate area. Northern San Diego County sounds like a very bad place to be at the moment though.

    With the high winds blowing right now, maybe it's not a terrible idea to leave the electricity off. You know?

    - bob


    A New Holiday Tradition


    I've been away from writing something substantial for a while, but this is just too good. First, are the delightful Thanksgiving bits. The folks, the sisters, the cutest nephew ever (Oh, I still win. Don't even think about it.) and our significant others were in attendance. The house performed nearly flawlessly. The heater worked when it felt like it and the wood stove had a little smoky flue problem, but that was it! My Dad considers anything below eighty degrees to be the harbinger of the next ice age, so he was uncomfortable. I also thought that the family left too soon (Feh. Jobs. Whatever.)

    Delicious food and good fun was had by all though. I had way too much fun with my nephew just screwing around. He had plenty of play time with everyone, but there was some very important knuckleheadedness to be done. Like this:

    But back to the tradition. Last year, my next door neighbors thought it'd be real fun to burn their house down. The fine folks at the Idyllwild Fire Department had other ideas though, only allowing a minor conflagration.

    This year, my neighbors across the street decided to pick up the baton with a nice chimney fire. And once again, the Idyllwild Fire Department had something to say about that too.

    Sure, that's fun, but what about the Tree Lighting Ceremony? Glad you asked. Here's a tree.

    More later...

    - bob


    The End Of Fear


    The fire is 100% contained and everybody in my little burg is relieved to say the least. We had phenomenal air support during the battle to knock the thing down, including the celebrated DC-10 supertanker. No pictures of the monster, but here's one from Saturday that I thought turned out well.

    The men who lost their lives fighting that fire were from here though, so it's fair to say that the normally light mood here is abnormally somber. "Getting back to normal" mode doesn't come easy for my neighbors and their efforts, like the carnival held this evening, appeared a little forced. I entirely get it having feared for my own house but for the folks who knew the chief and his crew, it's still tough.

    What this town does though is get together and make something else of the loss. Every event that was to be held to benefit something else, from the play at the school to the concert down the way to the Halloween Carnival itself are now fundraisers for the families left behind. They don't have to do these things, but they do. And that's yet another reason why I live here.

    Your pal,

    - bob


    Holy Crap!

    Yeah, I said it.

    You may have heard of a little conflagration in my neighborhood. Don't take my word for it, ask Chief John Hawkins:

    "This was a deliberately set arson fire," John Hawkins, chief of the Riverside County Fire Department, said in a televised press briefing. "And a deliberately set arson fire in which someone is killed constitutes murder."

    I've gotta tell you that the local media coverage stinks to high heaven. The article via the AP from the San Jose Mercury News is tons better than, say, the freakin' Riverside paper (except for the lack of photography). Hell, all of the local coverage has stunk it up in a big way. My folks are getting their news about this huge local event from CNN. My friends have been watching Fox News, Los Angeles stations, and for all I know the Toronto Daily News.

    How'd I hear about it? Oh, my sister called to ask if I was okay. "Um, sure," I replied. "Why do you ask?" She mentioned something about fire so I took a look at the mountain from the side lot at work. Yeah, holy crap.

    I asked the boss if I could leave and promptly did. Here's a shot from La Quinta on Highway 111 (only 555 away from being the devil's highway, by the way).

    What I discovered once I'd arrived back at The Lodge was that the fire had taken westerly turn, saving my little burg. The smoke is pretty heavy here, but I'll take it.

    That was awfully close.

    Your pal,

    - bob