|Credit: Bryan Johnson|
October 2003 Cedar Fire - San Diego County California
The Cedar Fire was a human-caused wildfire which burned out of control through a large area of Southern California in October 2003. The blaze was driven by Santa Ana Winds and burned 280,278 acres, 2,820 buildings, and killed 15 people including one firefighter. It was the largest recorded fire in California history. The Cedar Fire was one of 15 fires throughout Southern California in October 2003 burning at once. The collection of fires burned 721,791 acres of land. The Cedar Fire forced the evacuation of the main air traffic control facility for San Diego and Los Angeles, shutting down all commercial air traffic in the area and disrupting air traffic across the United States.
It was started by Sergio Martinez of West Covina, California, who claimed he was hunting in the area and had become lost. At first he stated that the fire was started accidentally by a gunshot, but later said he started the fire to signal rescuers. He was convicted of lying to a Federal Officer and sentenced to six months in jail. The total cost of damages from the 15 fires in October 2003 was around 2 billion dollars.
The article in PhysOrg and other journals brought home the very personal reminder of how deadly to one's health these mega-fires can be even when a long way off. Here is the link and forward:
"Pollution from forest fires is impacting the health of people with asthma and other chronic obstructive lung diseases, finds a study in Biomed Central's open access journal Environmental Health. This study uses data from pharmacies and dispensaries to measure the increase in drugs needed to alleviate symptoms associated with pollution."
|Smoking-Induced Acute Eosinophilic Pneumonia|
Now suddenly last week while taking my ridiculously expensive Swedish Driver's License driving test, I was required to take an alcohol breath test before we started off down the road and had to blow into a device that would click when the blowing test was finished, but it wouldn't click. I tried several times and no click. The instructor went ahead and did it for me so that the car would run. I also suddenly realized that I no longer have the deeper lung capacity I always had. I ran out of breath before the device would click and I could sense & feel this. Clearly there is more to damaging brush fire smoke fumes on all people than those who would commonly fall under a government at risk list. Hopefully one day they test this out. Watching the News of all the air pollution over in China, I can only imagine what's going on with the average person's lungs there in Beijing.
|Credit: NDTV News India|
|Credit: Living in a Toxic World|
Well, if you are old enough here, remember what it was like in Southern California in the 1960s and driving in L.A. smog congestion ? True, often times today, this smog backs up all the way to the San Bernardino Mountains where it becomes an Inland Empire problem. Still the smog persists, but not as bad as the old days. In some ways it is equal, but only because the population is greater. Can you imagine how bad it would be with 1960s emissions technologies still running the show ? That's where China and India are now, among other third world countries. An interesting point on that smog level in the mountains in the Los Angeles photograph. Notice the smog elevation level against the mountains ? Mountain of the pine forests in Southern California no longer extend lower as they once did. True, these mega-fires have taken a toll on forest cover, but smog was always a continual problem. San Bernardino Mountains have lost numerous Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pine to smog damage. They simply need clean air, most living things do. A former Wildlife Biologist, Tom Roberts, up in Idyllwild in the early 1980s predicted that Idyllwild would loose most of it's pines and his recommendation would be the Giant Sierra Sequoia Redwood as a replacement. Fortunately this hasn't happened YET!
Now getting back to Mega-Fire emergency warnings and heading these. It's also important that you definitely head these warnings even IF you think or feel you know better. I understand the people who want to protect property, but that was a decision you made and knew the consequences of when you first chose to live in these areas. Don't risk either your life or some rescuers life for your stubbornness. You can buy new things, but you can't replace yourself, family and/or your health.
Other Reference Reading:
Science Daily, July 2012: Gas from Pollutants, Forest Fires at Potentially Toxic Levels