Malibu Surfside News

Malibu Surfside News - MALIBU'S COMMUNITY FORUM INTERNET EDITION - Malibu local news and Malibu Feature Stories

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Publisher’s Notebook

• Time to Move On—Not •

BY ANNE SOBLE

Normally the residents on Malibu’s western boundary would have basked sufficiently in their good fortune at having been the beneficiaries of nature’s beneficence during one of the largest runaway wildfires in decades that their lives would return rapidly to whatever constitutes normal.
However, any Malibuites who want to count their blessings and move on may find that more difficult to do with all the attention being focused this week on some NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Chapman University research that should put every local resident on high alert for a mega wildfire season.
Because the threat of major wildfire danger is written into the scripts of annual firefighting agency budgetary pleas, Malibu residents can become desensitized to dire wildfire season warnings. But the outstretched palms of bureaucrats do not accompany the cautions in the current limelight. These warnings are centered in data that, at least on the surface, eschews political wrangling.
The JPL-CU wildfire research that was announced at the NASA JPL website located at: www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-160 is centered on satellite data sets of moisture changes in vegetation and soil in Southern California, with special emphasis on local wilderness areas. Rainfall patterns and the vegetation dry-outs that followed the precipitation in areas west and north of Malibu have resulted in an increased fuel load along traditional fire paths to these areas that can be quantified and mapped.
These unusually heavy fuel conditions may require fire prevention and fighting agencies to think differently about their preparedness programs. They also may mean that there has to be a sea change in assessment of wilderness interface terrain in terms of resource allocation. The bottom line is Malibu’s extreme vulnerability.
This use of satellite observations to enhance fire information and management systems is being used by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Malibu’s first line of defense, and the neighboring firefighting agency in Ventura County. Hopefully, it will result in the enhancement of the collective decision-making process for wildfire engagement across boundary lines.
Does this mean we now have sufficient tools to give special attention to areas, such as where the Springs Fire started, or where fires that might affect Malibu from other directions could start? Yes, in the sense that we can focus attention on the heaviest fuel loads. No, in the sense that there now are so many of these areas in the Southland that it is impossible to predict where the next random spark might occur.
There is no doubt that all the interest in this satellite research is warranted from Malibu’s point of view. In conjunction with an arsenal of the latest firefighting equipment and the well-trained and dedicated personnel who are the rank-and-file of Southern California firefighting agencies, everything that can be done to bring wildfire preparedness in line with the forces of nature improves the odds for wildfire outcomes in our community.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home