Video shot by survivors of the Camp Fire who escape for their lives shows just how terrifying this fire is


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/11/09/video-shot-by-survivors-of-the.html


#2

That is wery wery super scawy. Call the troops out in a huwwy.


#3

I wonder how much smoke it takes to choke a car’s engine?


#4

I seriously doubt it would be possible for smoke density to be that high. I’d be more worried about all the plastic parts on modern cars melting.


#5

Yes, I suspect radiant heat is the real danger. I once drove past a gas station fire and was amazed by the heat hitting us 200 ft away.


#6

Yeah, I’d expect by the time the smoke density kills the engine, the smoke density has already killed the driver, plus the tires have melted.

All in all, that video was damned scary.


#7

Smoke or lack of oxygen. It actually doesn’t take much of a drop in oxygen to stall an engine. A modern vehicle’s ICE would stall at around a 25% drop in partial pressure of oxygen, which is very achievable in “bubbles” of air near a fire like that. Turbocharged vehicles would do better, as they pressurize what air is available (also why turbocharged engines perform better at high altitude). O2 sensors are usually downstream of the engine and thus pretty useless. The pressure or flow sensors that are upstream of the engine will send the wrong information to the ECU under low O2 concentrations and make the engine run rich, possibly stalling it.

TL;DR: Driving through a fire is a bad idea unless it’s the only way out.


#8

Too bad those people that were pulled off to the side had no way of knowing they would be in the clear if they drove for just thirty more seconds.


#9

Wildfires are one of the few effects of climate change I don’t get to experience and I’m so glad about that. That’s quite literally hell on earth. Damn.


#10

Yet.

And 9 characters.


#11

Ah, but before it’s as hot here as it is in California, the sea will have risen enough to drown half the country.

tenor


#12

I’m pretty sure that they weren’t stopped, they were just driving at a more sensible speed given the visibility conditions.


#13

We can smell the fires from where I work and live; scary stuff indeed.


#14

One if the most terrifying aspects of the fire was that the smoke density was so bad many people could only guess which way was their best chance for escape.

The smoke is so bad in San Francisco that people have been walking around in dust masks all day, and we’re almost a 4-hour drive away. I can scarcely imagine what it’s like at the actual source.


#15

Aye; I just bought a new pack of masks today.

The wine country fires last year played sheer havoc with my respiratory system; both my kid and I got sick the week after.


#16

Remember that in our day and age that there is no event so terrible, no disaster so destructive, no loss of life so tragic that our President can’t find the time to compose a tweet to make things even worse.


#17

Trump is such a colossal, malignant sociopath that his tweet actually made me consider the possibility that the wildfires might be arson by a White House black ops team to punish a blue state that he loathes and despises.


#19

If I was in that car, I’d either be chanting “Fear is the mindkiller” or singing:

Zaglabor astragard!
Hootrimansion Bambriar!
Bangliatur Poosbladoooo!


#20

I was living in Canberra during the 2003 bushfires that destroyed hundreds of homes and killed 4 people. Living in the centre of town we were safe but a colleague of mine lived up at Mount Stromlo Observatory which was obliterated by a firestorm. Minutes before the fire hit, a police car came for one final check to confirm that the site’s evacuation was complete … only to find that no one living there had been told to get out. He and his family survived but lost everything. When they were allowed to return and examine their home, he found that the engine block that had been on a hoist in the garage was now a puddle-shaped lump of aluminum on the floor. At the same time, a rubber hose in the garden was only partially destroyed, incinerated in some places but left unscathed in others. He was amazed at how the hose almost looked to have been cleaved. This conveyed to him the speed and ferocity of the fire that had raced through.


#22

Back in August, Harper’s magazine had a couple of articles about wildfires, forest management, and the way culture and politics sometimes makes doing the right thing difficult or impossible. I thought they were extremely interesting. This one was about the severe fires in Portugal in 2017, and had a lot to say about just how bad it is to be caught in a fire. This one was about the American West, and was more about policy and politics.

Trump’s probably right when he cites poor forest management. But as often happens, the truth, coming from that man’s mouth, emerges via a tunnel of decaying ironies so pungent that the truth itself stinks to high heaven; it conceals more than it reveals.

The agency in charge of forest management is, after all, the Forest Service. A federal agency. An executive-branch federal agency. Trump’s own agency.

And the influential members of the public who insist that the Forest Service must continue to throw blood and treasure away on failed forest management policies, are, overwhelmingly, conservatives. GOP members. Trump supporters.

Here is an excerpt from that second article, “Combustion Engines,” by Richard Manning.

[Wiser, expert-recommended] policies, however, are toxic in the current political climate of the West. One can identify a conservative here simply by mentioning wildfire and waiting for the inevitable argument: “The Forest Service needs to put these fires out.” And the Forest Service does just that, as it has done for decades. (The agency, along with other federal entities and state and local crews, extinguishes about 90 percent of the many thousands of fires that occur each year on what is called initial attack, an all-out lights-and-sirens response the moment a fire is reported.) The conservatives who populate the canyons, gulches, and dead-end roads at the fringes of Western valleys are quick to put aside their customary laments about government overreach when it comes to spending billions to protect their own redoubts.

To firefighters who have faced the issue head-on, the irony is exquisite. In one neighborhood, the Lolo Peak fire was emphatically punctuated with confrontations between firefighters and open-carry advocates, the latter expressing their disapproval of the feds by packing pistols, displaying yard signs castigating Forest Service “liberals” and blaming the government for a natural disaster. They went as far as welcoming local and state firefighters while accosting federal employees, even though they all served under the same command.

Mike DeGrosky, the fire chief for Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, told me that firefighters had to move a camp out of one ranching town at the eastern edge of the Bob Marshall after being harassed by locals. “There were people . . . who were aggressive and angry toward the fire people,” he said. They would drive into the camp to find firefighters trying to catch some sleep or doing jobs like repairing equipment in camp. “Get off your asses, go out there, put the fire out,” DeGrosky quoted them.