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Grand jury says entire county at risk of wildfire

Original post made on Jul 15, 2019

A San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury report released on July 9 warns residents of urban areas not to be complacent about wildfires since high winds can drive swarms of embers long distances and ignite vulnerable structures.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 12, 2019, 4:41 PM

Comments (7)

Posted by Robert
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jul 15, 2019 at 12:32 pm

The report does not mention the possibility of a west to east wind causing a leap across 280 to residential areas is quite unlikely. Onshore winds are mostly cold and foggy. Most likely, an off shore wind blowing from the East Bay will blow hot dry air over the area increasing the chances of an urban conflagration.

Posted by the Santa Anas
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Jul 15, 2019 at 12:40 pm


I agree completely. Not to belittle the very real dangers of fires from the west, any one who's been around here knows all the big fires occur when natural wind direction shifts, in the style referred to as "the Santa Anas" in our Southland.

All the conflagrations in the north over the last few years have been driven by inland winds.

Odd that the grand jury didn't note that, or if they did, it went unreported.

Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jul 15, 2019 at 1:23 pm

The report itself can be found at Web Link

(Good journalistic practice includes giving the reader the ability to access source material. Hint, hint.)

Surprise, surprise, there is only one short paragraph about PREVENTION including one glaring falsehood, namely
“...public funds may only be used to fund projects on public lands.”. Excuse me, but the town of Woodside reimburses homeowners for money spent on defensible space projects. The rest of the paragraph really only records that some public agencies do some, but has no comment on whether they are adequate.

So, no recommendations about reducing fuel load or even improving evacuation routes. It’s all about passively accepting wildfires, and focusing on dealing with the aftermath. Even PG&E knows better than that.

Grand Jury: how about finishing the job by evaluating prevention and mitigation activities?

Posted by JD
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jul 15, 2019 at 1:25 pm

We needed a Grand Jury to tell us this? Are we going to convene a Grand Jury next cold and flu season to tell us to wash our hands frequently and get the flu shot?

Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jul 15, 2019 at 1:39 pm

The Woodside “Evacuation Plan” is hard to find but it’s located here: Web Link

It’s really an emergency management plan intended for public agents, and appears to be a work in progress.

However, starting almost exactly half way through at the 31st page is a series of evacuation route maps.

Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jul 15, 2019 at 1:42 pm

JD —

No, because those recommendations would help PREVENT cold or flu. An analogous Grand Jury report on cold and flu would list places to buy kleenex.

Posted by GM
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:16 am

Winds coming from the west are often accompanied by a moist marine layer. The idea that a wind whipped fire will move from the west towards the bay, jumping 280 defies the actual conditions on the ground during these coastal fog events. Woodside is 10 miles east from the Pacific Ocean, Santa Rosa is 22.5 miles east of the Pacific. Yes, climate change has and will continue to create extreme fire behavior. Unfortunately comparing Woodside to the conditions during the Coffee fire, where diablo winds blowing from the northeast brought humidity in the single digits is not the scenario described in the article. The Almanac might as well say Livermore, which sits 22.5 miles from the San Francisco bay, shares similar weather conditions with Woodside.

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