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Friday, June 23, 2017

Fires Continue to Rage in Utah and Big Bear, California

By Douglas V. Gibbs
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My wife and I were in Big Bear Lake just a few weeks ago.  The Big Bear area is a collection of mountain communities over the Inland Empire vernacular region in Southern California.  While up there, aside from enjoying local shopping and views of the lake, we had a couple of great meals, and I decided to take a look at a few of the home listings in the area, I noticed two things.  One, the lot sizes are pretty small.  While I would prefer owning acreage, I was told that because of the National Forest surrounding the area the lots remain under an acre (and the larger the lot and/or the closer to the lake, the more the likelihood the property approaches a million dollars, or exceeds a million).  Second, the fuel for a fire looked pretty hefty.  A better than usual rain and snow season resulted in an incredibly lovely growth of vegetation. . . which also provides even more fuel for a fire.

As the West, especially the southwestern United States, faces Summer's triple digit heat, the fires have emerged, one of which is burning in Big Bear.

The fire in Big Bear has been burning for a week, and so far has burned 1,562 acres just north of Big Bear Lake.  The area has experienced mandatory evacuations, and so far the blaze is 35% contained.

A part of the challenge has been that the wooded area is rocky and steep.  Hundred-year-old trees that had held boulders in place on hillsides are now gone, adding a new dimension as firefighters not only have to fight the fire, but watch their every step and listen for rolling, burning logs or tumbling rocks in the darkness.

Overnight winds helped with the firefighting by pushing the fire back into itself, slowing its spread.

The temperatures are expected to remain high, and wind speeds are also going to be increasing.  Combined with dropping humidity the conditions ahead pose additional challenges for the more than 1,200 firefighters battling the fire.

The cause of the fire remains unknown, but an investigation is underway.

In Utah, almost 28,000 acres have been torched.  Evacuations of neighborhoods and the evacuation of fire crews in some areas, have taken place.  Authorities state the fire is only 5 percent contained, down from the previous 15 percent, which means the fire crews have been losing ground against this massive blaze.

Fire officials report that reality dictates that in order to make major progress crews need to be placed in extremely unsafe conditions.

As with the Big Bear fire, temperatures are high, the wind gusts are blowing, and the terrain is challenging.

Homes have been damaged in Utah's Brian Head fire, but the number has not yet been confirmed.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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