Saturday, September 19, 2015


This is a must-watch, especially if you did NOT experience the Cedar Fire in 2003 or the Harris Fire that devastated Deerhorn in 2007.  Those fires will never be forgotten by those who were here, and the next one is not if — it's when.

While you watch this video of a family escaping in their car through the flames of the Valley Fire in Lake County this week, imagine what your evacuation road would look like under these conditions.  In 2007 (Harris Fire) the winds on Mt. Elena were clocked at 80-90 MPH.  The smoke so thick you could not see the lines on the paved roads. Embers flowed across like lava, and the Sheriff told me later he feared that his 4WD unit would stall because the fire was consuming so much oxygen.

If your evacuation road is overgrown now, or narrow and winding (and that describes most of Deerhorn!) make your plans to evacuate early.  Also take a day and use your week-whacker to get down the worst of the weeds and brush along your escape road.  Except for Honey Springs, Deerhorn Valley Rd, and Elena Lane, ALL other DV roads are private.  Clearing them is a homeowner responsibility.  And it's much easier when you work with your neighbors.

Most fire fatalities happen during late evacuation; cars stall, crash, run off the road, or are just over-run by the firestorm.  But you may not get that Reverse 911 if phone or cell transmission goes down. The winds in this video ran 20-30 mph, but the fuel was so dry that the fire behaved like the Cedar (2003) and Harris (2007) Fires that had winds three times as powerful—and fast.

Thank you Luis Valdez for sharing this video with us on

In Last May's Fire Behavior Workshop, our DV group had the opportunity to "tour" Deerhorn Valley with experienced wildland fire experts.  We were taught how to eye terrain where a fire is likely to run or create a chimney of firestorm.  It was pretty sobering information.  We are in hilly sloped area, and there are lots of chimney gaps that will channel fire upwards and create huge flames.  (Bratton Valley, Sierra Cielo, and upper White Wing were 3 of the areas we examined.)

FACES: The Story of the Victims of Southern California's 2003 Fire Siegecame highly recommended by the fire experts leading the workshop. It's tough reading... the stories of 16 people who did not survive the Cedar Fire. It examines each death, the warnings that did not come, decisions that were made (to evacuate or not), actions taken... and the tragic results for these victims.  You will look at your property and surroundings in a completely different way after reading it. Let's honor these victims lives by learning from their deaths.  Here's the link: