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A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight
September 3, 2009 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Time-lapse video of the Southern California wildfires. Another image of the fires, as seen from space. Google Map.
posted by mattdidthat (20 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

The Globe's always great Big Picture set on the fires.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:11 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow. Interesting how they reveal the power of the fires. You can see the planes flitting about as little black specks, every once in a while dumping their "mud".
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:13 AM on September 3, 2009

Thanks for posting these. Amazing what happens when there's a dramatic natural disaster next to such a high concentration of professional video equipment. Here are a few more.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:13 AM on September 3, 2009

There seem to be a lot of time lapse fire videos. The only one that really seemed interesting was the Southern California link, as it showed greater jumps in time (7-9:30 pm in 29 seconds). The rest seemed like footage you might see behind an instrumental rock band who really likes FX pedals.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:13 AM on September 3, 2009

Weird how speeding up fire makes it look smaller, like a model.
posted by swift at 9:25 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Driving home toward the fires each night, I couldn't help but wonder why I am willing to accept the high cost of living in a place that looked so much like Mordor.
posted by The World Famous at 9:42 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yesterday in Burbank it was so hazy you could look directly at the sun. Very apocalyptic, which of course is very Californian.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:52 AM on September 3, 2009

As sad as it is to see the property loss and cost in terms of human lives lost and/or adversely affected, this shit is kind of exactly what we as a society keep asking for. It isn't as if the Los Angeles area was a lush swampy rainforest to begin with. After we urbanized it, drained what little water there was to feed our thirst and allowed the leftover areas to get all clogged with dry brush, we've pretty much set the stage for ideal wildfire conditions on an annual basis.

Our long-term excessive use of water for lifestyle and farming purposes, coupled with our desire to both live near natural areas while preventing those areas from burning as they historically did every X number of years has really left the majority of the western states in a shitty condition, to be honest. I'm not saying I don't feel bad for people, I'm just saying if you live in a flood plain you should expect to get wet once in a while.

Those time lapse images of the smoke remind me of the Mt St Helens eruption shots...
posted by caution live frogs at 9:54 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

I like this time lapse video. Not as dramatic as the others, but still wild. Weirdly, it made me want to move to LA.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:58 AM on September 3, 2009

A propos nothing, the Globe shot of the converted DC-10 (#39) is just way fuckin' cool.
posted by notsnot at 10:07 AM on September 3, 2009

Weird how speeding up fire makes it look smaller, like a model.

Reynolds number
posted by DU at 10:53 AM on September 3, 2009

Not nearly as "neat" as the time-lapse videos, but still an interesting perspective on the fires.

The Station Fire Twitter Image Stream.
posted by BoatMeme at 11:11 AM on September 3, 2009

I find CunningLinguist's link oddly detached. It's like all this destruction becomes a spectator sport. I can't help but wonder if the darker puffs of smoke that really start becoming noticeable at about 4:15 in are people's houses.

My personal favorite natural disaster time-lapse (slightly off topic): The 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
posted by the painkiller at 11:16 AM on September 3, 2009

I call shenanigans on this video. It's actually a much shorter time lapse which has been looped three times.
posted by JeffK at 11:42 AM on September 3, 2009

As an ex-Big Tujunga Canyon resident I knee-jerk despair at "if you live in a flood plain you should expect to get wet." A bit of a callous way to react to the destruction of a community. The videos and photographs have left me in tears.

On a less emotional level, though, that's a reasonable thing to say. There was a 'fire risk' sign a the end of my road that was almost always at 'extreme.' There were a couple of minor evacuations in the two+ years I was there. My neighbours were thoroughly jaded about it, and I was totally unsurprised to hear about people ignoring the evacuations. Fire trucks could roll through bullhorning at the doors and people would go back to sleep, a few of them maybe hosing off their roofs.

A friend who visited me in the canyon said its burning was "like an old man dying, sad, but unavoidable and (dare it be said) natural." On some level people must've known it was going to happen eventually. But having lived there I am completely sympathetic to the risk-reward assessment the residents of the Angeles National Forest made.
posted by kmennie at 12:34 PM on September 3, 2009

the painkiller, while the Station Fire is geographically enormous, it is actually in a rather rural area and has destroyed a fraction of the homes which other comparable fires in memory have. The count is under a hundred, compared to nearly 3,000 in 2003 in San Diego.

If some of us Californians are enthralled with the spectacle, it's because we know this time, it's unavoidable and, to a psychic extent, manageable.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:37 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yesterday in Burbank it was so hazy you could look directly at the sun. Very apocalyptic, which of course is very Californian.

Absolutely! It reminded me of a less idyllic version of one of my favorite Magrittes.
posted by scody at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thank you thank you thank you for the NASA image link. I saw a thumbnail of that on a news site a day or two ago, went to NASA looking for it, and found zilcho.

My NASA-search-fu not as good as yours!

BTW, my SoCal house, soon to be not my house any more, is at the very edge of the suburban interface. We are at the edge of a river bottom, a mile or so from the base of the closest foothills, and the risk is relatively low. Nevertheless, sparks and embers can travel for a very long way - these wildfires have a surreal ability to burn houses down at random.

I have a client in Santa Barbara whose house weathered two major fires in the last twelve months. Houses within yards of hers were incinerated. Not a speck of damage on her 3/4 acre property. Even though the FD was on it, it was Pure Luck. Just plain luck.

I won't launch into a diatribe about it now. It's a more complicated issue than people realize.
posted by Xoebe at 1:30 PM on September 3, 2009

24-hour time lapse of the Station Fire, near La CaƱada.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:04 PM on September 3, 2009

...and now on the news this morning I hear the Station fire is thought to be arson. That makes me mad - just because the fires are likely to happen doesn't mean we need some asshole giving them a jump-start.
posted by caution live frogs at 4:58 AM on September 4, 2009

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