Category: CharacterDriven

Lessons learned and ignored from a fire that destroyed 3,450 homes

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Published: Oct 19, 2016 6:17 p.m. ET

Conditions that contributed to the Oakland Hills fire 25 years ago re-emerge

Courtesy California Office of Emergency Services
A firefighter silhouetted in the flames of the Oakland Hills firestorm of Oct. 20, 1991. The fire killed 25 people and destroyed nearly 3,500 homes.

For Jim and Veronica Harris, the morning of Oct. 20, 1991, in the hills just above Oakland, Calif., was hot, dry and ominously windy. From the third-story balcony of their home on Estates Drive, they watched as a tall cloud of gray and black smoke marched steadily toward them. Soon, they began to see pine trees literally explode from the heat. “We looked at it and turned to each other and said, ‘This doesn’t look good,’ so we started packing,” said Veronica Harris, a retired nurse and speech pathologist who now lives in Denver. read on

Firestorm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

firestorm is a conflagration which attains such intensity that it creates and sustains its own wind system. It is most commonly a natural phenomenon, created during some of the largest bushfires and wildfires. Although the term has been used to describe certain large fires,[1] the phenomenon’s determining characteristic is a fire with its own storm-force winds from every point of the compass.[2][3] The Black Saturday bushfires and the Great Peshtigo Fire are possible examples of forest fires with some portion of combustion due to a firestorm, as is the Great Hinckley Fire. Firestorms have also occurred in cities, usually as a deliberate effect of targeted explosives, such as occurred as a result of the aerial firebombings of HamburgDresden, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Thousands of homes incinerated but trees still standing: Paradise fire’s monstrous path
Ariel view of destruction from the Camp fire in Paradise off of Clark Road. The Camp Fire has burned more than 7,000 structures in Paradise. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Driving toward Paradise on the afternoon of Nov. 8, Jonathan Pangburn was less worried about the flames burning through the forest than he was about the smoke. Black and thick, it billowed over the road like a dangerous fog, cutting visibility to less than three feet in places. read on

California fires: Death toll reaches 42, making Camp Fire deadliest in state’s history

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