I realized, after some comments, that some readers thought I was being uncompassionate. Well...that's kind of true. I have a very tough time finding compassion for people who do stupid, irrational things that they KNOW are dangerous.
My husband just walked through the bedroom, where I'm watching the news, and said, "I know. I know. - You called it." Every time we drive to Los Angeles, I can't help myself from making comments on how irresponsibly homes are being built in Southern California. If it weren't so damn sad, it would be a Captain Obvious show. There's a small community near Stevenson Ranch that was JUST built a few years ago. The ironic thing is; the only reason the builder bought the land was because a fire went through there and cleared all of the built up debris and brush and wild scrub. Suddenly, it was easy to see the way you could plateau and steppe the hillside. So, the developer threw up 200 homes where a FIRE swept through every ten years for the last ninety years. !?!?! Huh? I feel bad for the people who are losing their homes, but...fucking duh! Just because you throw up some houses and landscape an area doesn't mean you're going to change the course of mother nature...especially when you leave scrub land all the way up to the front gates of your development. Fires can't read! And, fires don't care if your homes are high end. In California, there's no such thing as a house with a "big yard". Developers cram as many houses as possible onto these hillsides. Fires can't do ratios. If you put a bunch of logs end to end, do you think the fire is going to stop just because you say- "these are expensive homes!" No. The fire is going to burn from one log to another until something extinguishes the fire.
As for the people in Malibu, it's hard to put it into words, but... would you build a house in Kansas without a basement because the basement was aesthetically displeasing? No. You wouldn't. Because, the basement is the only thing that will save your ass in the almost guaranteed tornadoes and thunderstorms. People in Malibu just don't think! They'll build six thousand square foot houses on stilts, with shake roofs, because it "looks nice". They'll allow the chaparral to come right up to their manicured lawn because having a big swath of bare earth around the house isn't aesthetic. !?!? You know what else isn't "aesthetically pleasing"? FIRES THAT EAT YOUR HOUSE! Nom, nom, nom. <---that was the fire eating their house. And, yet... after the fire eats their house, they will build again. And, after two years of fire safety, they'll fall into that complacency. The weeds will come up to the lawn...again. The bushes will get a bit tall around the house...again. The palm trees that, literally, exploded the first time (sending hungry little fire balls onto the roof) will be replanted with...more palm trees. It's California, after all. The people will let the new and improved landscaping "mature" (because, that's when it looks good) and...nom, nom, nom. Guess what?
There are three things you can count on in Southern California mountain communities (like Malibu and Stevenson Ranch and most of San Diego) :
1. Every October, the wind blows from the east. This is called the Santa Anas. They happen every fucking year and even Los Angeles International Airport has learned that you can't fight it - you must work with it. Land the planes the other way...no biggie.
2. Southern California is primarily dry, chaparral. Creosote burns well.
3. Southern California isn't known for it's rainy season.
Those things considered, if you have a fire in October (nom, nom, nom), shit's going to go down. It has every October since Jesus was a lad. Don't act surprised and cry on television about how it was "so unexpected" and "moved so fast." Don't go on CNN and say, "well...we just never thought it could happen to us." when the house you just built was built where the question is not "will there be a fire?", but "when and how big?"
In Malibu and San Diego, there's one other little thing that people forget.
Hills that have been burned do not have great rooting keeping the top soil stable. When January and March come through, it can rain. Ironically, the wettest storms seems to come after he biggest fires --- or, maybe it just seems that way because landslides happen every year, too. Again, it's not a question of "if"...it's "when and how much?" So, when your home slides down the hill in March and gets swallowed by the mountain - I don't wanna' hear it. Don't build your six thousand square foot house on stilts, on a 40% grade.
Another issue: if the road in and out of your home is a one lane, windy, kind of paved piece of shite... do you really expect the fire truck to get there? Yeah...so, don't go on FOX News and bitch about a lack of fire response. You wanted a view and your own Valhalla in the hills? You got it. Nom, nom, nom.
Ok...I think I'm done.