From treasured gated neighborhoods to rural logging towns.
More than videos of embers and glowing red skies, the pictures from the 2018 Camp Fire that still haunt me are of cars parked along exit routes as people desperate to escape discovered they were trapped.
The fire destroyed the City of Paradise and killed 85 people, becoming the deadliest fire in California history. It’s a tragedy that raises an important question as California’s fire season gets worse every year: Can we predict the next paradise?
There are a few ways to think about it, from looking at an area’s risk of megafires to the number of evacuation routes it has.
California officials rank an area’s wildfire risk — based on its vegetation, fire history and topography — as moderate, high, or very high. Over 2.7 million Californians live in parts of the state that are considered very high risk, painted bright red State wildfire hazard map.
“These designations have predicted some of the state’s most devastating wildfires in recent years,” 2019 analysis reads Several California newspapers put it together, pointing out that “almost all of the heavens are painted bright red.”
is home to more than california 75 communities, including Paradise, where at least 90 percent of residents live in these high-risk areas, the analysis found. Cities at high risk of fire include:
Rancho Palos Verdes, Calabasas, La Canada Flintridge, Palos Verdes Estates and Malibu at Los Angeles County
South Lake Tahoe and Pollock Pines in El Dorado County (both were evacuated in recent weeks)
Lake Arrowhead in San Bernardino County
Kensington in Contra Costa County
But there is more to the story. This list includes the places where fires are most likely to occur, but does not reflect what happens once a fire starts.
Heaven had six exits, but rapidly growing fires closed some and mass evacuations caused traffic jams on roads that were usable.
(It’s important to note that while traffic slowed the evacuation in Paradise, fewer than 10 people who died were in their cars apparently trying to escape, according to an investigation Butte County District Attorney. Most of those killed were elderly people in their homes.)
According to a 2019 analysis, across California, about 350,000 people live in fire zones that have no more evacuation routes than paradise per capita. Location Relatively few exit routes include:
Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Pacific Palisades and Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County
Newbury Park, Oak Park and Moorpark in Ventura County
Carmel Valley and Jamesburg in Monterey County
Jamul, Ramona and Scripps Ranch in San Diego County
Big Bear, Minnelusa and Sugarloaf in San Bernardino County
Nevertheless, there are some important caveats here.
Just because there are exit routes doesn’t mean people will actually use them all. In an emergency, many people are likely to choose the roads they know best, which can lead to traffic jams on the more popular routes out of town.
So this summer, Streetlight Data, an analytics company in San Francisco, conducted a slightly different analysis.
Its researchers matched exit routes in each community and measured their general traffic load using GPS data from cellphones. This allowed them to predict which routes people would be most likely to take during the evacuation.
Streetlight identified 15 locations in California with more constrained evacuation routes than Paradise, ranging from some of the state’s most expensive gated neighborhoods to remote logging cities.
“It really cuts into the income level and locality,” Martin Morzinski, the company’s vice president for marketing, told me. “When it’s smoky, things are busy, what have you, people take the path they know.”
The five locations with the most limited evacuation routes were:
Bell Canyon in Ventura County
BrookTrails in Mendocino County
Lake California in Tehama County
North Shore in Riverside County
Coto de Caza in Orange County
Since Tim Brehm’s move there in 1980, three major blazes have ripped through Bell Canyon, a mountainous gated community home for nearly 2,000 residents.
Brehm, a retired high school teacher, prepares his home every year by cleaning brushes and creating hundreds of feet of protected space around his home.
He knows there are two ways out of Bell Canyon, but he never uses it. He always held back to protect his property, although he admitted that the fire seemed to be getting more belligerent.
“I’ve always had a viable escape plan: Put my keys in my pocket and my truck is right there,” Brehm told me. “If everything goes south, I’ll just get in my truck and go.”
How to prepare for a wildfire:
Pack your go bag.
Prepare your home
Track forest fires near you.
Britney Spears: The artist’s case returned to a Los Angeles courtroom this afternoon.
Maternal mortality rate: A bill before Governor Gavin Newsom aims to reduce the death rate among black mothers, Associated Press reports.
Gel Vaccine Mandate: A federal judge has ordered that all employees entering California prisons be vaccinated, Associated Press reports.
Poisonous Air: A new analysis finds that West Coast residents are experiencing a large increase in the amount of smoke from wildfires, KCRW report.
Top public utility regulator resigns Maribel Batzer — a regulator of the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees Pacific Gas & Electric — is stepping down, According to KTLA.
Golden Gate Stimulus II: The third California stimulus payment is due to expire on October 5. Some of the reasons for the difference between payments are, according to sfgate.
Marijuana conviction: Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon says he will dismiss 60,000 marijuana convictions Associated Press reports.
Overwhelmed School Districts: In Los Angeles, 15,000 students enrolled in distance learning outperform public school programs, Los Angeles Times reports.
Aliso Canyon Settlement: The Southern California Gas Company has agreed to pay up to $1.8 billion in a settlement for a 2015 gas leak that spewed harmful fumes into homes at Porter Ranch.
New mayoral candidates: Representative Karen Bass has entered the race for mayor of Los Angeles, KTLA reports.
Homeless people sued for their rights: In San Luis Obispo, a group of homeless people are demanding the right to camp in open spaces and sleep in cars, CalCoastNews reports.
theranos test: Elizabeth Holmes persuaded billionaires to invest in Theranos despite warnings its tests were dangerously unreliable, according to evidence presented Tuesday during his trial.
San Juan Bautista Farm: In an effort to protect the scenic area around San Juan Bautista in San Benito County, a land trust purchased a 540-acre farm for $4.4 million, according to wed news.
San Jose Apologies: More than a century after arsonists destroyed San Jose’s Chinatown, the city council approved a motion to apologize to Chinese immigrants and their descendants for their role in perpetuating systemic racism, Associated Press report.
where are we traveling
Today’s travel tip comes from Mary Kay Wolf, who recommends poplar In Santa Barbara County:
A small western ghost town known for its cotton groves, Los Alamos has blossomed as a destination for wine lovers and foodies. More quaint than Solvang and Los Olivos, it offers a trip in time and all the charm of a well-loved rancher’s watering hole. It borders the Santa Ynez Valley and is an excellent stop on the way to California’s beautiful Central Coast.
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions at [email protected] We’ll be sharing more in the upcoming versions of the Slitter.
And before we go, some good news
Starting today, fourth graders in California can apply for a pass that allows them and their families to explore 19 State Parks Free for one year.
The California State Park Adventure Pass was championed by the governor’s wife, Jennifer Seibel Newsom, who said in a statement that it would help “promote a healthier, more equitable California for all.”
apply for the program Here.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. – Soumya
ps is here Today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: to persuade with threats (6 characters).
Steven Moity and Mariel Wemsley contributed to California Today. you can reach the team [email protected].
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