The wind is blowing hard. After a night spent being awakened several times by the roar, it becomes automatic to turn the TV on the first thing in the morning to see if there are any fires burning, and where the fires are. Last night it was Ventura's turn. Ventura is about 70 miles north of Los Angeles and about 35 miles south of Santa Barbara, on the coast.
Plant fascination means weird compulsions to notice plants during disasters, as in this coverage of Ventura police putting out a spot fire.
Hey! Aloe barbarae!
The wildfire coverage by local news has become so amazingly good one can compare the coverage with google data and see precisely where and what is going on. Information so available and so precise it can become an exercise in self-horrifying, bordering on ghoulishness, but it is also a lesson in how fires destroy, educational for those of us who are in high-danger areas.
This is the home the TV reporter is standing in front of in the first image of this post. Google street view, 2011. Hmm. Compare to the first image of this post. They took out that trashy Queen palm and replaced it with a small Cycas revoluta and added a couple more boulders. Pavered the driveway, and built a brick mailbox pilaster, too, replacing the little metal one here:
Here it is on TV this morning, destroyed. I took photos of the TV screen. Note the Cycas revolutas along the driveway in the above photo, and in the photo below there they are, with the larger Cycad, grown larger since Google photographed the street, at the extreme right edge. Huh. That hedge was a pretty skillfully espaliered juniper, it looks like. Huh. They sure had a nice lawn. Wonder if it is artificial turf...
...and the remains of the house. Is that a pot of cute little succulents on the table, with the rest of the home destroyed? Breaks your heart.
On the same street four other homes were burned. The house indicated by the arrow was just sold in August for $855,000. Owww. The new owners were probably changing a few things, maybe painting, enjoying the view from their new back yard, getting ready for end-of-year holidays in their new home. Luckily everyone was evacuated safely, but an ordeal they now face, homeless until they can rebuild.
The two homes here on the right also burned to the ground. The home partially visible on the left, indicated by the arrow, appears to have survived untouched.
Not a significant amount of vegetation around the well-maintained homes. Tile roofing, not flammable cedar shake. So why did they burn? 70mph winds blew in a fire that perhaps raced through the canyon behind these homes; embers hammered the homes and probably entered through roof vents and set the homes on fire. Or just embers blowing in from miles away.
This image was an education, though it doesn't really come across in a still image. It's the trunk (not the crown) of a palm tree on fire, sending a blast of embers out to potentially start other fires.
The lesson there is to have your palms "skinned" as well as having the dead fronds removed. "Skinning" means removing the dried bases of the fronds taken off. Costs more than leaving them, but how much does a fire cost?
Update 12/13/2017 The Thomas fire is still burning and has destroyed over 700 homes and 237,000 acres (370 square miles or 960 square kilometers).