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Great post!

People in southern California are facing the same threats we face here in the foothills of The Sierra. As the cities become more crowded those with the means tend to move “into the hills”.We are building our homes in the hills amongst the beautiful mountains and trees. When you factor in the Santa Anna winds, which can blow hot air from the interior desert at speeds of 65+ miles per hour for days on end there is little you can do to save your home. You could have fire resistant landscaping 1000 yards around your home and with sparks flying at 65 mph it won't matter.

We have been watching this happen here for the last 40 years, except now there are three times as many people living in high fire danger areas. In addition we haven't developed a new source of water in our state in over 20 years. Southern California is a desert made to bloom by man. What happens when we have the next “big” drought? I am afraid that what we are seeing today is going to be repeated again and again. We can prepare and plant fire resistant plantings, build our homes of more fire resistant materials, and change our neighborhoods design to better resist fire but when the “Santa Anna's” start blowing, look out!

Building communities in fire-prone ecosystems is asking for trouble (says the guy living on the San Andreas fault).

Beyond the risk to human life, and the financial insanity of insuring all this very, very expensive private property and providing state and federal monies to fire victims (I want to say "victims" but that seems cruel--although I would never consider myself an earthquake victim if it ever comes to that), these ever-expanding communities of 3/4-acre lots destroy a unique biome that makes California a biodiversity hotspot--not that anyone will want to talk about that at a time like this.

It'll take more than a few coffeeberry to undo the damage we've done to California's coastal sage scrub.

Southen California will get over this very quickly, and this fire won't do anything to slow its growth.

I pray the cost in human life for this fire remains low, and I am especially concerned for firefighters working in this extremely dangerous situation. I wish I could be more optimistic about what lessons we might take away from this disaster.

Trey's right, sometime everyone should read about how the LA Dept of water and power plotted and diverted water starting like 100 years ago from the Sierras and the Owens valley in order to be able to sustain the rate of growth of the greater LA area. Otherwise there would be no LA as we know it. The story of the Owens Valley is fascinating. LA is artificially sustained by "stolen" water piped through the desert through the Aquaduct. Now Atlanta is going through the water wars.

See links
http://wsoweb.ladwp.com/Aqueduct/historyoflaa/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Water_Wars

Yes, Brooke, I did know a bit about that and recently heard about the water troubles in Atlanta. (NPR, most likely)

The thing I can't figure is what do we do now? We have plenty of room here in Buffalo, no wildfires, and no water shortages (though the G Lakes are getting a bit shallower), but nobody wants to come here! Plus I don't where they'd work if they did.

People like to "live on a ridgetop" as Californian Jesse Colin Young once sang.

We are following these fires very closely from our perch in Oregon---as our hearts belong in Southern California. I've never known a time where fire wasn't part of the reality of living in canyon country. But a huge rainy season followed by drought has made this year a tinder box. It puts our landslides and gale force winds into perspective.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around half a million people being evacuated and the reality that at least one of these fires was arson. The politics of where to build cannot be addressed now--the human toll is too high. The real question will be if we can begin to talk about it and *do* something about it after the ash clears. I fear we won't.

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