Destruction: 12 homes destroyed, five damaged.
Size: 656 acres.
Containment: 15 percent.
When people are told to evacuate their homes because of dangerous fire conditions, people often say, “But I don’t see any flames.” The realistic reaction should be to think of a brush covered hillsides as a campfire or a fireplace. Until the embers under the burned wood/brush are entirely out, the wind could blow them to an unburned area and a new fire started.
“All it takes is one ember, one ember to head downwind and start a fire,” Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said at a 2:15 p.m. news conference today.
Science magazine, in a 2017 article titled “In California Fires, a Starring Role for the Wicked Wind of the West,” explained that “’California’s biggest and deadliest fires have been propelled by Santa Ana winds, which can gust to 100 mph. That wind speed makes smothering fires nearly impossible,'” said Chief Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).
“‘In many cases, it’s all we can do just to try to control the path of the fire, trying to keep it away from people and homes,’ Berlant said. ‘Stopping a fire when wind is 50, 60, 70 miles per hour is almost not possible.
“‘These fires burn into anything that’s in their path. A wind-driven fire is like a freight train and stopping a freight train on a dime doesn’t happen.
“’Helicopters can’t drop water or flame retardants in high winds,’ he said, ‘because the gusts blow the liquids away.”
Dangerous Santa Ana winds are expected to start tonight around 11 p.m. with the National Weather Service predicting that some winds in canyons and hills may gust to 70 mph. and the winds may last about 12 hours. By Halloween, the winds are supposed to be mild.
Mandatory evacuations remain in place for a good share of Pacific Palisades north of Sunset Boulevard, from Chautauqua to Temescal Canyon Road. Residents east of Temescal and above Sunset are in a voluntary evacuation area.
Do not wait until the last minute to evacuate. Pacific Palisades only has three ways in and out–Sunset, Temescal and Chautauqua–and we’ve already witnessed evacuation chaos this week.
Residents on Nextdoor Palisades have been complaining about the traffic gridlocked that ensued early Monday morning (in the dark) when mandatory fire evacuation orders went out.
One resident wrote: “Yesterday we tried to evacuate but Temescal was closed, Sunset was closed [eastbound at Chautauqua], and only Chautauqua was open which was like a parking lot. We moved 10 yards in one hour”.
Another wrote: “Can you please explain why southbound PCH was closed, diverting all traffic [onto Sunset and] into a mandatory evacuation area, making it impossible for residents to evacuate?”
In a Daily News Opinion piece today (“Congestion Kills, so Why Do Politicians Make It Worse?”) the authors write: “When the Camp Fire obliterated the town [Paradise] in 2018, many people were unable to evacuate due to congestion. Eighty-six people died, some of them in their cars as they tried to flee.”
Pacific Palisades has an evacuation route problem, just as Paradise did.
Residents don’t have a lot of different roads to choose from to reach Sunset, particularly those evacuating from the Highlands, Paseo Miramar, upper Marquez Knolls, Castellammare and the hillside neighborhood north of Bestor. Most of those roads have only one way in, one way out.
Evacuation Center: The Palisades Recreation Center is listed as an evacuation center. Yesterday, the park was in the middle of an area for mandatory evacuations. Circling the News stopped by the gym today and asked why.
There’s one road going to the Rec Center, which has pine trees and eucalyptus on either side. The woman inside seemed to think that firefighters would be able to come and save the residents sheltering there because there was defensible space. I sent an email to Councilman Mike Bonin’s office and Lisa Cahill was going to look into it.
Finally, where are the police?
One reader wrote: “I drove into the Palisades yesterday after they had lifted some of the evacuation orders. I was quite surprised at the lack of police presence. Not only were the roads north of Sunset open, there were no police at all.
“The lack of police presence and the potential for looting in this situation was a concern. Sad, we have to consider this but it seems to be a good time for robbers. Especially if we are to keep our windows unlocked for the firefighters.”
Today, Tuesday, there were orange cones up to stop people from turning north into the Alphabet Streets off Sunset, with the exception of Swarthmore. One could freely turn up that street and then gain access to the Alphabet Streets, which are in a mandatory evacuation area, by making an illegal left turn. Even though Caruso’s Palisades Village is in a mandatory evacuation area, one store owner said that Rick Caruso was leaving it up to store owners if they wanted to open or not. Yesterday afternoon, only Erewhon appeared to be open. On Tuesday, several stores were open around 2 p.m.