May 8

Jesusita fire in Santa Barbara

27  comments

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Since a bunch of readers have asked, I’ll give a quick update about the fire in Santa Barbara.  I took the photo above when MD and I went out to dinner last night in downtown Santa Barbara.  The top of our car, which is parked next to the restaurant, is in the foreground, providing some perspective.

As it stands now, MD and I are a little ways from the evacuation area, but the margin is getting closer and closer.  Fires move pretty fast when they are driven by winds gusting from 60-70 mph.  I’ve driven around and looked at the fire and placed it on a map and compared it to where we are.  When I do this and think about it, the reasoning, cognitive part of my brain tells me that we are in no danger at this point, but the primitive, reptilian part of my brain screams a different message.

If you click this link you can see a Google map of Santa Barbara that will update every 15 minutes.  You can see the areas that are under voluntary and mandatory evacuations.  And you can see how far this fire has spread in just four days, which is what the primitive part of my brain is focusing on. You’ll have to scroll to the right to see the part of the fire that affects us.  Our house is north of E. Valley Rd and above the Birnam Wood Golf Course.  If you see the edge of this evacuation hit Birnam Wood, you’ll know we’re out of here.

The most annoying thing about this fire – aside, of course, from the potential of being burned to death and/or having your house burn to the ground – is the lack of information available from the press and the authorities.  I watched a press conference this morning and almost ran screaming from the room.  Instead of one person who knew what was going on transmitting information, the press conference was a parade of ‘authorities’ and politicians jockeying for TV time and thanking one another for all the support.  The politicians thanked the fire fighters, the fire fighters thanked the politicians, and both thanked those involved in law enforcement.  Absolutely no information of value was transmitted.

Which brings me to another almost unbearably annoying part of these press conferences.  Along with profusely thanking one another for all the help, everyone defaults to what I call ‘authority’ talk.  There are no policemen or sheriffs, only ‘law enforcement personnel.’ No firefighters, but ‘fire control personnel.’ There is no wind, but ‘wind events’ instead.  We have fixed-wing aircraft and rotary wing aircraft circling overhead instead of airplanes and helicopters.  A DC-10 tanker is on the scene dropping tons of fire retardant.  It’s called the ‘largest dropping resource’ we have.  The fire itself is referred to as the ‘fire incident.’ ARRRGGGHHHH!!!!

I’ll keep everyone posted on what goes on via Twitter.  If you don’t want to sign up, you can simply go to the Follow Me On Twitter button (with the little blue bird) in the upper right of this blog and find all the updates.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.

What follows is a series of photos showing the fire in different stages.

Below is a photo I took from the tee box on the 17th hole two days ago.

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Here is the view from the same spot about 18 hours later.  I was playing with our son, and hit our drives off the tee.

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By the time we got to our balls, a hot spot had erupted.  You can see how much change can take place in less than five minutes.

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Here is the view taken about an hour ago from behind an info kiosk located about a half mile from our house.

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A view of the fire at dusk last night.

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  1. Very frightening stuff. If I were religious, I’d be praying, I guess. As it is, I’m simply hoping for the best for you–from way back here, on the shores of Lake Michigan (–would that I could ship the thing TO you).

  2. Wishing you and your family the best. I was born (Cottage Hospital) and raised in SB but now live in Arizona. Of course when I was growing up Montecito was a sleepy beach town. Coast Village Road was 3 blocks away, 2 lane and had mom and pop businesses on it. It was a great time and place to live there. Now one sister is in town on Bath Street and another out near Turnpike (under mandatory evac right now). Mom’s at Val Verde. I am a long time reader of all your books, blogs, shows and anything else you throw out at us. Thank you for the time and care you put out, you have truly changed lives with your words and wisdom – one of them mine. Please keep us posted.

  3. Sorry to hear that you are going through fires ordeal again. I will definitely keep my fingers crossed for you and yours! You guys are my inspiration and source of daily information. I may be a bit too oversensitive but I liked you both ever since watching on PBS. There is something about you both that is real and down to earth.

    I dont know if there is we, your readers, can do but may be a bit of humor will do the trick. Hope you find it funny, otherwise I will just keep my fingers crossed!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc0j09Zm-lE&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fsadekat%2Eblogspot%2Ecom%2F&feature=player_embedded

    Funny. Thanks for sending.

  4. We had enough of California and the fires/drought/earthquakes/mudslides, etc. Now we live in Colorado – hey, here’s an idea, come back!!

    Strangely enough, we couldn’t wait to get moved here from Boulder because we constantly worried about fire there.

  5. What a strange, and beautiful, area in which to live. The only comparison I make, to myself, is Japan. Incredibly lovely country, absolutely besieged by disaster. I am not brave enough to live in either location. So tenuous.

    I’m an east coaster, to the core, but I know that my beloved outer banks are doomed eventually to be reclaimed by the sea. But so far, it seems a slower process to me. You live in an area where any moment compete annihilation may occur. Lordy! What a fearful old fart I am!

    But you are trading a near perfect climate, gardens like Eden, etc. (No, I’m not waxing biblical!) for some sort of life security that I personally need.

    Well, maybe we should all move to Nebraska- is that safe? No, that may be affected by the MEGA eruption in Yellowstone!

    I don’t know- good luck with all- youir personal safety, and your investmants!

  6. Thanks for posting, Dr. Eades. I was concerned about you and the safety of your family; will be praying for the situation.

  7. Wow that’s pretty close. So have you packed anything in the car ready to go?! I’d be getting those family photo albums in there pronto just in case.

  8. Nothing original to add except thank you for the update. You’re very important in my life and I’ve been worrying about the two Eades’ for days. Living in paradise does have its shortcomings.

    Indeed it does.

  9. YIKES! Just having the fire close enough to see is too close for comfort for me. Do take all necessary—and maybe some unnecessary—precautions. I’m in agreement with some of the earlier posters. You folks are my kind of people and you’ve made a huge contribution to the lives of lots of us.

    To the Nebraska poster: The first thing a homesteader did in the 1870s was plow 5 furrows around his claim to keep from being annihilated by forest fires. That threat is gone, but there are still tornadoes and blizzards… Take your pick. 🙂

  10. I am praying for God to have mercy on the people of SB. Our house burned in the San Diego fires of 07, and we are 3 months from moving into the rebuild. You loose everything, our street got no warning, and we were out of town. We’re very thankful to be alive, as we may have been asleep when it hit. Neighbors had stayed up until 3:30, and went to bed seeing only a faint glow. One neighbor said she looked out one minute, saw nothing, and the next the whole valley was on fire. Keep listining to your limbic brain.

    I typically listen to my limbic brain a little too much.

  11. Hey… I didn’t know that you moved to California. Boulder is so nice, I love it here in Colorado. It’s funny how we have both of those sides or our brain that tell us different things sometimes (the instinct and logical). I tend to follow the logical side (good thing or not I am not sure but psychologists certainly focus away from “gut feelings” saying that they are a myth) … which one do you listen to more?
    Also, can you please suggest any doctors that are low carbohydrate supporters in the Boulder area?

    I don’t know any docs there that are low-carb since we left. Ron Rosedale, who used to be our partner, moved to Denver and is in practice there, I think. He is a good low-carb doc.

  12. I know the incidentese may seem like an obfustication, but it’s actually useful. On a major incident like this one, there are probably resources from state, local, federal and military agencies and we really don’t care about details like, for example, whether a cop is sheriff, townie, mp or state trooper, hence the tendency to use generic terms like law enforcement. Also, the Incident Command System has standard names for each type of resource and overhead team position which must be used in radio communication to avoid confusion. A large incident means lots of stress, not enough sleep and needing to be very focused (perhaps while your own family is being evacuated) so it be very difficult for incident officials to switch gears in speaking to the public. Please bear with them.

    Anyway, thanks for the update and hope it continues to pass your neighborhood by.

    Thanks for the good wishes. The ‘incidentese (great name, BTW) is still annoying to me because it doesn’t have to be that way. God knows, Doctors have a vast vocabulary of terms that are meaningless to the non-medically trained and have to deal with patients who wouldn’t understand the medical terminology. We (most of us, at least) make the effort to give patients explanations in terminology that can be understood. I don’t know why the people who give these press conferences can’t do the same thing.

    People get into ways of speaking that are rote, and they don’t seem to realize how idiotic it sounds. The one that always gets my dander up is when the flight attendant says, ” please turn all electronic devises to the off position.” Do you think this same flight attendant talks that way to his/her kid who needs to turn off the TV and go to bed. No. They say, “Turn the TV off and go to bed.” Why don’t they just say that on the plane?

  13. As the Chairman of the Big Tujunga Fire Safe Council, I’ve learned a lot about making your home more fire safe. If you plan ahead and do great preparedness, you can increase your home’s chances of surviving a wild fire by over 80%.

    The structure of your home and the first 30 feet around it are critical to increasing your chances. Non-flammable roofing is a must. There are new fire preventive attic air vents that have spark arrestors to prevent burning embers from entering your attic that can be retrofitted to replace your existing vents. The area around your house foot print needs to be clear of all flammables, i.e. wooden sheds, tools, patio furniture, stored items, fuel, pesticides, etc. Then the next 30 feet needs to be religiously pruned. Low flammability plants can replace high flammability ones. Trees need to be limbed up to at least 8-10 feet of no low hanging branches. All branches directly overhanging or within ten feet of the roof need to be trimmed back. All low lying plants and grasses need to be kept cut short and tight. These same techniques are important to do from 30 feet out to the property line as well, but the first 30 feet are the most critical.

    There are fire resistant gels you can spray on your windows and the underside of the eaves and on all roof vents if you have a few minutes to spray before you evacuate. For a few hundred dollars you can have a complete gel kit standing by next to your hose ready to go. Unfortunately, water is often one of the first services lost in an emergency. For a few thousand dollars you can get a gel kit that runs off a generator and can use water from a stream, water tank or swimming pool to apply the fire retardant gel.

    If you want more specific info and links to more fire protection info, feel free to write me.

    Here’s wishing that all of you and yours stay fire safe.

    Be well and be safe,
    Ben Fury

    Thanks very much for the info. I really appreciate it, and, I’m sure, so do a lot of my readers.

  14. Glad you’re safe!

    This is really off-topic, but I just found this interesting article regarding meat-eating and cancer in which Gary Taubes was brought up: http://dcscience.net/?p=1435 Taubes even responds to it within the comments. It looks at different type of studies, as you have done, because the media bias fails us all. Perhaps you can give it a look whenever you get a chance and share your thoughts on it with those of us who follow your blog.

    I read it several days ago. It’s a great blog, especially if taken together with Gary’s comment. I’m glad you sent to that others can read it. In fact, I think I’ll ‘tweet’ it.

  15. just read your latest twitter update which says you think you are out of danger for now. I’m so glad to hear it! hope it stays that way.

    i was recently in California for the first time in my life, and drove up the PCH with my husband and baby (from LA) to spend a night in Santa Barbara. it really is such stunning country there. my husband grew up in L.A. but I’m from England – now that I’ve seen it, i don’t know why *everyone* doesn’t want to live there and can well understand why people call it paradise…

    It usually is paradise, but it hasn’t been so paridise-y these last few days. I’m glad the marine layer of cool, foggy air has drifted in at last.

  16. hello dr. eades,

    i hope i heard correctly that the fires are being brought under control…so hope you are back in your home and all is safe and well. just wanted to mention that i read the people magazine issue with kirstie alley on the cover…in addition to the many reasons mentioned for why she’s gained back 85+ pounds she says she gained an enormous amount of weight while eating a vegetarian diet! if only she would find her way here and start eating natural whole foods instead of cardboard boxes of chemicals.

    please send mother’s day wishes to md!

    MD had a great Mother’s Day. Two of the three kids got together and had us to a nice brunch. And gave her a Tiffany necklace, which she loves.

    Too bad about Kirstie. I didn’t know that had happened.

  17. OMG, you guys have sure been hammered with bush fires over the last couple of years! Our suburb has only been threatened twice over the last 20 years.
    @Ben F ury (hi Ben),
    Must also add the important action of keeping roof gutters clear of leaves and so forth. It is crucial for the survival of the house. Also, that 30 feet should also be kept clear of fallen leaves as well. Especially if you have gum trees around your home, as we obviously do but I also imagine are common in California, the leaf and bark litter keeps piling up all year round, not just in autumn.
    I think that after the horrific Australian experience in Victoria a month or two ago, your authorities are evacuating houses rather than letting people stay and defend. I know that we always send experienced staff to California when you guys get big fires, as our bush fire seasons are anticyclic.
    And has dear old Elvis make its appearance at Santa Barbara? We all love Elvis here! It gets flown over in an Andonov transport (as well as some brothers and sisters) and then back again to California when it’s finished here.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Has all this impacted the Choral Soc’s preparations?
    Michael Richards
    P.S. Your tweets are a treat!

    I’m clueless as to the Elvis deal. I’m not sure who or what he/it is (other than the original, of course, who now rests peacefully in Memphis). Give me a hint.

    MD’s choral society presses on. They are doing the Verdi Requiem next Saturday and Sunday. I’ll post on it a little later in the week. It’s a huge deal for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s the Verdi Requiem, a huge piece. But this performance comes with a lot of history that I’ll discuss in my post.

  18. Relieved to hear that you and MD are safe and that your home has not been damaged. I think of you both several times a day and hope lady luck continues to keep you and your house out of harm’s way.

    ~Monty

    Thanks for the kind thoughts. We appreciate them.

  19. Elvis:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_(helicopter)
    And Note Giuseppe Verdi with an I. Call him “Joe Green”.
    Caudio Monteverdi: “Claude Greenberg”!

    Cheers, Mate.

    AAARRRGGGHHHH!!! Don’t know how that happened, but it’s fixed. I guess I was so worried I would misspell requiem that I didn’t focus on old Joey’s name enough. Maybe I was thinking ‘green’ when I spelled it. 🙂

  20. Just a note that there are many misconceptions concerning the small hose operated gel systems. I am actually really suprised that there are no laws making them illegal to market. Remember the Australia fires and how many lives were lost there not to mention all the property? They were using the backpack and portable gel systems. First line of common sense, do you see fire fighters using backpack pumps and garden hoses on active structure fires? I bet the answer is no. We all put expensive alarm systems in our homes, expensive fire sprinklers on the interior, and spend thousands on in ground yard sprinkler systems, but why is it we are only willing to spend mere $300 to $3000 to adequately protect our home and everything inside against a wildland fire. This only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to misconceptions about exterior fire protection. The best thing you can do is create the legal defensible space and couple it with an exterior fire prevention/suppression system that works. It is going to cost you over $15000 but it saves you time, covers faster, is easy to use, and produces significantly more volume than a ridiculous garden hose.

    Thanks for the info.

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