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(@hobson)
Posts: 794
Noble Member
Topic starter
 

I haven't been on GN for a while. Just got back home this morning after our third evacuation due to the Monument Fire. It looks like we won't be evacuated again, but we're ready to go again if necessary. Took 2 guitars and a mando with me. Stayed in our cabover camper in our friends' driveway. Better off than our neighbors who slept on the floor in an office building and lots of people who slept in their cars. It's all very stressful. Man, am I tired.

Renee

 
Posted : 23/06/2011 10:20 pm
(@joehempel)
Posts: 2415
Famed Member
 

glad you're okay!! Welcome back!!

In Space, no one can hear me sing!

 
Posted : 24/06/2011 6:57 am
(@chris-c)
Posts: 3454
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Wow, that's not good Hobson. I hope you're OK now.

Are wildfires common where you are, or is this a relatively unusual event?

In the part of Australia where I live they're pretty common, and we have to maintain firebreaks around our properties and observe rules about when you can or cannot have any kind of outdoor fire going. It's winter here now so I have been doing a bit of 'cool burning' - which basically involves burning off smaller key areas for safety, once the fuel load on the ground gets too dangerous. Do people in your area need to do that kind of thing at all or is it managed differently, or just not usually a problem?

Our bushland burns very fiercely but it has evolved to handle fire and regrows with renewed vigour afterwards. It actually looks much better a few months after a fire than before the burn. Statistically the chance of losing our house isn't all that high, but statistics aren't much comfort when a fire's coming your way. :shock: I've had the experience of sitting on my verandah watching the flames on the hillside opposite, while the water bombing planes did tight turns over my roof and headed in to drop their loads. House don't regrow, so I'm quite cautious now.

Last year a fire destroyed a number of houses on the other side of town that were in a relatively suburban setting, but near a large area of bushland. Half the houses lost actually burned because the pads on their evaporative air conditioners (on the roof) caught fire and collapsed into the house. Very sad, because it would have been pretty easy to avoid that, if they had known to have a suitable cover to put on. Other simple measures like blocking the downpipes and filling the gutters with water before leaving were overlooked in the rush too. Most house lost here are set alight by airborne burning embers not by direct assault by a fire front. :(

I've also invested in metal sprinklers on the roof, and a fire pump that sits under the house ready to defend it. I've connected it to a bigger tank where it usually sits, but I also fitted wooden skids so that it can be dragged onto a trailer and driven to a suitable place to fight a fire.

Fire Pump

Burning off.

My friend to the left of the picture is a volunteer firefighter, and therefore an experienced and enthusiastic pyromaniac...

Hope it goes OK for you.

Cheers,

Chris

 
Posted : 24/06/2011 7:39 am
 Nuno
(@nuno)
Posts: 3995
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I was following the fire on the TV news. Disastrous.

Glad you're Ok!

 
Posted : 24/06/2011 9:09 am
(@blue-jay)
Posts: 1630
Noble Member
 

Glad you're okay Renee. That was some inconvenience, but you are all right. :D

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

 
Posted : 24/06/2011 12:39 pm
(@kent_eh)
Posts: 1882
Noble Member
 

Glad to hear you're safe, if a bit shaken.

I wish I could send you some of our water to help out.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep

 
Posted : 24/06/2011 12:46 pm
(@hobson)
Posts: 794
Noble Member
Topic starter
 

Thanks for the support. I slept for 10 hours last night and almost feel normal. Decided it was safe to unload the camper today. We are no longer under pre-evac orders.

Yes, wildfires are common here in the summer. But they don't usually spread so fast or take so long to get under control. Last year was very wet, so things grew a lot. Then we had the coldest temperature ever recorded in February or March. A lot of trees and bushes and cacti died and many are still standing. On top of that, we have only had 1/4 inch of rain so far this year. That is very dry, even for here.

We also have had restrictions on campfires or burning. The Monument Fire was first thought to have started in Coronado National Memorial, which at that time had already been closed for 3 days due to the dry conditions. Now it is believed that it started just outside the south end of the Memorial in Mexico.

We did turn off the evap cooler so as not to suck embers or smoke into the house. But the only covers I've ever seen are plastic tarps or canvas, not much use in stopping a fire.

Renee

 
Posted : 24/06/2011 7:45 pm
(@almann1979)
Posts: 1281
Noble Member
 

sounds like a frightening time - how much warning do you get of these fires usually?

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)

 
Posted : 24/06/2011 7:57 pm
(@hobson)
Posts: 794
Noble Member
Topic starter
 

There is no "usually." We have never had a wildfire come anywhere near this close to us. For the first evacuation, we watched the fire progress. Two days before we were evacuated, we started pulling papers out of file drawers, put the camper on the truck, and made lists. We had no official warning whatsoever that we were going to be evacuated. We were actually evacuated that time because another fire was accidentally started by a bulldozer clearing some brush to prevent the first fire from spreading. Because of the wind, the new fire moved very rapidly through our neighborhood. The slurry bombers dropping their loads a half mile from our house were another good clue. We took off as soon as we could, which took us an hour in spite of our preparations.

We were more prepared to leave the second time. When we saw flames coming over the top of the nearest mountain, we again left before the official order.

The third time we had barely returned home from the second time when we got the call that everyone had to be out within 5 hours because they were going to do controlled burns to clear more brush for up to 48 hours. We left within 3 hours to avoid the rush. We spent what little time we had at home taking pictures of everything in the house and grabbing a few more things that we wanted with us.

Renee

 
Posted : 24/06/2011 8:24 pm
(@chris-c)
Posts: 3454
Famed Member
 

Thanks for the support. I slept for 10 hours last night and almost feel normal. Decided it was safe to unload the camper today. We are no longer under pre-evac orders.

Great news. :D You must have been physically and mentally exhausted by the experience.
Yes, wildfires are common here in the summer. But they don't usually spread so fast or take so long to get under control. Last year was very wet, so things grew a lot. Then we had the coldest temperature ever recorded in February or March. A lot of trees and bushes and cacti died and many are still standing. On top of that, we have only had 1/4 inch of rain so far this year. That is very dry, even for here.

That sounds very similar to us. The combination of a good growing season followed by a dry spell is very dangerous. Add wind and it can be very hard to combat.

We did turn off the evap cooler so as not to suck embers or smoke into the house. But the only covers I've ever seen are plastic tarps or canvas, not much use in stopping a fire.

I had exactly the same experience when I tried to find a commercial cover. Couldn't find anything. But, some friends nearly lost their house through that circumstance. Some fool set alight a large area of bush through carelessness with sparks from an angle grinder and the resulting fire burned through Tim and Jenny's property destroying a shed, dry paddock grass and fencing, and setting light to their aircon which duly collapsed into their roof. By luck there was a fire crew in the area who managed to put it out, but it still did a fair bit of damage.

The problem with the evaps are that the embers can collect in the louvres and set fire to the pads, whether or not the fan is on. They tell us here to try and turn the fan off but leave the water running down the pads, but the evaps I've seen can't actually do that! Turn the fan off and the water pump goes off too. We've lost a lot of houses here because they do catch fire very easily. Some even have louvres that face upwards (to try and avoid the hottest air reflecting back off the roof) - and they make perfect ember catchers!

I did consider making my own cover using fire blanket material, which shouldn't be too hard, but it might be time consuming to track down and make. Seems like a market niche nobody is filling at the moment! (Maybe Hobson's Ember Covers could be a small business opportunity.. :) ) But what I did do was make a permanent ember guard by wrapping the whole unit with fine metal mesh (similar to the flywire, usually used on doors and windows). That lets the air through but is fine enough to keep airborne embers away from the flammable pads.

I hope that's the end of the danger for you for now. I'm sure that's been a very scary experience for you.

Cheers,

Chris

 
Posted : 24/06/2011 10:35 pm