A wildfire is a fire that’s uncontrolled … until it is controlled. Or contained at increments that indicate how much or little progress has been made in taming the beast.
To see a global firemap, click here.
Containment is the progress made by establishing a fireline around the perimeter of the fire. This fireline is a trench or other barrier that keeps the fire inside the lines; the trench is often made with a tool called a pulaski tool (named after the 1911 invention of assistant ranger of USFS Ed Pulaski). Unfortunately, if the winds pick up and the fire jumps the line, containment can go from 70% back down to 20%.
San Diego, CA Fire Storm
San Diego (Hispanicized form of Santiago or St. James, patron of Spain), was the epicenter of multiple 2014 springtime wildfires. As of May 19, nine fires had burned over nine thousand acres, and brush fires scorched over 27,000 acres.
What, if anything, does the fragrant eucalyptus have to do with the southern California firestorm?
We interrupt this blog post entry for a quick history lesson.
The San Diego Historical Society credits Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno with naming the city after another Spaniard, Franciscan friar Didacus of Alcalá,O.F.M., otherwise known as Diego de San Nicolás). Click on the provided links for a plethora of information that history buffs will relish! And yes, there is a Mission!
Thank you. We now return to explosive reporting.
Eucalyptus is Not Native to California
Neither did it enter Europe until the year 1774. (The Mediterranean basin does, however, have myrtle trees, also an evergreen. It has edible berries and health benefits since the leaves and twigs can be made into tea and wine).
So where did eucalyptus originate? Some say it may have come from Brazil, but the eucalyptus we know is native to Australia.
Transplantation Highs and Lows
Fast growing, tall and dense, the tree is suitable for wind breaks. That’s good. But then the evil twin jumps the line and pops the nirvana bubble. Eucalyptus are also known as gum trees because they exude sap and, subsequently, oils—good for insecticide, bad for dry climates. Because the oil is flammable, fire lit trees have been known to explode!
Even the Australian Blue Mountains are shrouded with volatile haze—that won’t keep me away!
But there’s more. Eucalyptus trees need lots of moisture and guzzle water to grow. Plus, these bad boys litter. Their heavy branches can fall without warning. This prompts the warning against sleeping underneath (if that sounds like a real kick, you may enjoy reading Seven Little Australians).
As an author, my motto is Linking Yesterday to Today. Often, the link reveals a cautionary tale. An Audubon magazine article, America’s Largest Weed, is worth reading.
No matter the cause, my heart breaks for anyone who suffers devastation of any kind. God be with you.
“Down at the foot of the grass hill there was a flame-coloured sky, with purple, soft clouds massed in banks high up where the dying glory met the paling blue. The belt of trees had grown black, and stretched sombre, motionless arms against the orange background. All the wind had died, and the air hung hot and still, freighted with the strange silence of the bush.”
~ Excerpt from Chapter XXI of the Seven Little Australians, by Ethel Turner, 1894, Ward, Lock and Bowden