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Joey
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PostMon Aug 12, 2019 3:34 pm 
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Recent article:
https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-washington-towns-wildfire-risk-prepared/

Read the article and then think of a wildland fire in your neighborhood when the wind is up.  You wake up to a siren and someone pounding on your door yelling "Get out"!

What's your plan?

Now you are in your car and just starting to leave the area.  But your normal way out is blocked by fire/down wires/down tree/car wreck/car abandoned/the list goes on.

What's your plan?

Here in the urban/wildland interface of eastern King County we have been fat and happy for a good many years and have not had to think about this scary stuff.  But after closely following major wildland fires in the west for a number of years and pondering climate issues, I am sure thinking about this scary stuff now.

Here is something I am doing that you can do also.  Get a big bunch of your neighbors together and ask for a presentation by your local fire district or city on things each of us can do to increase the odds that our home can survive a wildland fire.  My goal is to get at least 50 people from my immediate neighborhood to turn out for a presentation by Redmond fire staff.

You can also get together with your neighbors and identify *every* possible way to escape your neighborhood.  And since we are talking "save lives", be creative when thinking about escape routes.  One route in our neighborhood involves someone opening 2 gates on their property so people can drive though their pasture.

Of course there is lots of information online.  For example, try a search on:
wildland fire defensible space

Here's another search:
fire evacuation checklist
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treeswarper
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PostMon Aug 12, 2019 4:48 pm 
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I advocate looking around for large openings with very few conifers.  Golf courses, parking lots, sports fields.  Fire crews have such places identified each day as a safety zone.  You can too.  By figuring that out, you've got a last resort place to head to if the roads are clogged and impassable.  Go over it with your family and friends. 

Where I live, I figure my safety zones to be the rodeo grounds/park or one of the irrigated fields, or a parking lot.  The larger the opening the better.

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NacMacFeegle
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PostMon Aug 12, 2019 5:34 pm 
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What we really need is zoning to prevent further urban sprawl - if we'd had strict laws against building new development outside of towns and cities a few decades ago wildfire risk to people wouldn't be such an issue.

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Cyclopath
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PostMon Aug 12, 2019 7:59 pm 
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You'll see me in a kayak with two freaked out cats.
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treeswarper
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 6:08 am 
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[quote="NacMacFeegle"]What we really need is zoning to prevent further urban sprawl - if we'd had strict laws against building new development outside of towns and cities a few decades ago wildfire risk to people wouldn't be such an issue.[/quote

Uh, I live in the "urban" area.  My town is on some kind of list of top ten places likely to burn up, although it would take a big wind and other conditions to do so.  Paradise was a town.  Weed is a town.  Wenatchee had  a warehouse, in town, burn up during a wildfire that started from embers. Leavenworth, which is also a town is listed as the number one place most likely to burn.
Pateros was "urban" and the neighborhoods on the outskirts burned.

Then there were the fires of 1910 which burned up towns.

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MtnGoat
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 7:19 am 
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NacMacFeegle wrote:
What we really need is zoning to prevent further urban sprawl - if we'd had strict laws against building new development outside of towns and cities a few decades ago wildfire risk to people wouldn't be such an issue.

yeah, that way we could pack everyone into the urban cores they don't want to be in to begin with, and push housing prices higher even faster, on the basis that innocent people should be forced to conform to your value judgments about risks

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Windstorm
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 9:20 am 
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Joey wrote:
You can also get together with your neighbors and identify *every* possible way to escape your neighborhood.  And since we are talking "save lives", be creative when thinking about escape routes.  One route in our neighborhood involves someone opening 2 gates on their property so people can drive though their pasture.

Thanks for bringing this up. My neighborhood is a long road with no outlets and the terrain makes it unlikely we'd be able to simply drive through a couple of gates. However, we do have an at-grade trail crossing (former railroad grade) and the posted weight limits on the trail's bridges are definitely high enough to allow passenger vehicles. All it would take to get vehicles onto the trail would be a chainsaw or bolt cutters. Nice to realize that we actually do have a way out in an emergency.
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NacMacFeegle
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 11:23 am 
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MtnGoat wrote:
yeah, that way
NacMacFeegle wrote:
What we really need is zoning to prevent further urban sprawl - if we'd had strict laws against building new development outside of towns and cities a few decades ago wildfire risk to people wouldn't be such an issue.

yeah, that way we could pack everyone into the urban cores they don't want to be in to begin with, and push housing prices higher even faster, on the basis that innocent people should be forced to conform to your value judgments about risks

What does their innocence or lack thereof have to do with anything? Urban sprawl has resulted in millions of people being forced to rely on expensive personal vehicles to make time consuming commutes for work and basic necessities. Even if restricting urban sprawl drove housing prices up (which would not necessarily be the case), that increase would be countered by the costs incurred by a wastefully dispersed population. More stable, vertically oriented cities and towns would be more liveable than they are in America today thanks largely to urban sprawl. We'd have more farm land, more intact forest land, and wild fires would be less of a concern, and that's only a very small portion of the advantages zoning to prevent urban sprawl would have yielded, and could yield in the future.

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MtnGoat
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 12:15 pm 
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NacMacFeegle wrote:
What does their innocence or lack thereof have to do with anything? Urban sprawl has resulted in millions of people being forced to rely on expensive personal vehicles to make time consuming commutes for work and basic necessities. Even if restricting urban sprawl drove housing prices up (which would not necessarily be the case), that increase would be countered by the costs incurred by a wastefully dispersed population. More stable, vertically oriented cities and towns would be more liveable than they are in America today thanks largely to urban sprawl. We'd have more farm land, more intact forest land, and wild fires would be less of a concern, and that's only a very small portion of the advantages zoning to prevent urban sprawl would have yielded, and could yield in the future.

It has to do with everything. Innocent people do not exist to serve your ends, your ideas, or your value judgments.

No one is 'forced' to rely on anything of the sort, they make the value judgments for themselves of where to live, why, and what tradeoffs they'll accept in making those calls. Not wanting to live in an urban core is every bit as legitimate a choice as the desire to live in one.

"Waste" is another judgment call. I didn't consider it waste to not live in Seattle when I schooled and worked there, I judged it as well worth it to not have to live in the city. And seeing how it's working out now on the streets and in service of Googlization via city council, I'd count it as triply applicable now.

We're not here to conform to anyone's judgment of 'waste' or 'efficiency', that is not what life is for.

When you don't want anything to do with the density, population, crowding, noise, crime, or any of the other issues in urban cores, let alone the lack of a yard or the stars at night, calling a city 'livable' is itself a non starter. Everywhere outside the city is not your playground or reserve.

Your 'advantages' are not something innocent folks lives exist to serve. I know this may seem incomprehensible to folks with a utilitarian...using their own values as the utility to be served, or else.

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Windstorm
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 12:31 pm 
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I don't suppose you guys could have this argument somewhere else and leave this thread for discussion of defensible space and escape routes and the like.
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MtnGoat
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 12:42 pm 
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Agree, that is a better discussion than what to force people to do in service of Utopia. On the other hand, immediate pushback is necessary when someone decides what everyone else needs to be forced to do because they place everyone else's lifestyle below their own demand for an urban existence.
****************************************

Arguments on escape...

Escape routes can be a real problem when traffic flow is not prioritized in city decisions... the impacts of traffic 'calming' and *intentionally* reducing road capacity in CA's fires last year made escape from Paradise a huge issue.

Quote:
The so-called Skyway “road diet” slowed traffic, and a local civic group donated benches and landscaping to beautify the zone.

Nearly two weeks ago, Skyway was the scene of unspeakable horror when the worst wildfire in California history besieged Paradise. Up to 27,000 residents trying to escape the flames instead were stuck in traffic, the buildings around them burning. Some died in their cars when the fire roared over them.

Not prioritizing throughput kills

Don't let the local govts continue to make escape routes worse by intentionally reducing traffic throughput.

Defensible Space...
this is something I wrestle with here in E WA. It is so hot in the summer months I am loathe to remove any shade trees, or the oak forest on my acreage. I got a D on the local fire inspection last year, the guy said don't feel bad it's nothing but D's or F's nearly everywhere on your road anyway!

I trim everything I can reach with the saw to minimize ground travel for the fire, and they said they liked my pool and the loop road which is my driveway, which makes it more defensible because their rigs can get in and out easier if necessary. Gave them standing permission to use the pool as a reservoir if necessary, drain it dry if you need to

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Joey
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 12:54 pm 
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And now, back on topic...

Here is a map that shows King County fire district 34 (where I live) and the Redmond city limits.  It also shows fire stations.

https://bit.ly/2Tt3vAm

The city and district have signed an agreement to treat the combined area as a single unit for emergency/disaster response.

I happen to know that there are a number of locked gates in district 34 that (1) separate existing residential neighborhoods and (2) would provide significantly different evacuation routes if the primary evac route for a neighborhhod was not passable for any reason.  With that in mind, I am inquiring with both  Redmond and King County emergency management if there is a plan to open any of these gates and direct people to them should the need arise.

So far I have not got a warm feeling that the officials are thinking about the potential need to use these alternative evac routes.  But I am still making inquiries.  It is possible that I have not yet talked to the right people.  Also someone at the county is checking on this and will get back to me.
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kvpair
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 2:11 pm 
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Joey wrote:
Here is a map that shows King County fire district 34 (where I live) and the Redmond city limits.  It also shows fire stations.

https://bit.ly/2Tt3vAm

Thanks for the pointer, Joey. FWIW here is a King Co map showing fire risk at the WUI. Correct me if wrong, but based on you being in Redmond, it doesn't seem hugely worrisome, does it, but perhaps I'm missing something.

King Co Wildland Urban Interface Risk Map
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Joey
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 2:49 pm 
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kvpair wrote:
FWIW here is a King Co map showing fire risk at the WUI. Correct me if wrong, but based on you being in Redmond, it doesn't seem hugely worrisome, does it, but perhaps I'm missing something.

King Co Wildland Urban Interface Risk Map

That map was apparently produced in 2004.  I expect the people that study fire in the urban/wildland interface know a great deal more now.  And it seems odd that the map appears to indicate an urban interface in a large mountainous area north of I-90.

Recently I read an article noting that one of the key factors about whether a wildland fire will "go big" is whether there have been wetting rains.  In other words, all rain is not created equal.

I know in past years we have had super dry summers and there have been instances of "red flag warnings" that included my area.  In fact, the whole area around Paradise CA was in a "red flag warning" when the Camp fire hit.

We live on a small acreage parcel and have lots of huge conifers around the edges of our pasture.  Yeah, it looks very 'northwest' with those branches sweeping down to the ground.  But I now realize that is a big no-no in terms of defensible space so those branches are going to go.  Doing that pruning will change the  look of our property but it also just might help to save our home should a wildland fire happen.

More to the point, here is what typically happens in California.  Firefighters take a quick look at your home and decide if it looks defensible.  Obviously there are a *lot* of factors that go into that decision.  If they decide it is not defensible they make a mark at the start of the driveway and go on to the next home.

If there is ever a wildland fire here and firefighters are looking at my home, then I want them to see that I did my part to help make my home defensible.  Hopefully they will then stick around and do their best to save it.  That is all I can ask.
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NacMacFeegle
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 3:00 pm 
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MtnGoat wrote:
Agree, that is a better discussion than what to force people to do in service of Utopia. On the other hand, immediate pushback is necessary when someone decides what everyone else needs to be forced to do because they place everyone else's lifestyle below their own demand for an urban existence.

As I recall we've also had this argument before.....

I only wanted to point out that we need long term planning that would fix the problems that resulted in the need for concern over wildfires. It's attitude's like yours that created this and so many other problems in the first place. Intelligent long term planning helps everyone and hurts no one.

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