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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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March 27, 2009     The Catalina Islander
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March 27, 2009
 

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Page 4 The CATAUNA ISLANDER Friday, March 27, 2009 Fire dangers: Get out of thethe three forces usually associ- bit way ated with Slope and Fuel. Each of BY CAPTAIN STEVE F. ESCOTO LA COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT With the spring bloom comes the the serious threat of fires later in the summer~fall seasons. This is part one of a three-part Island Safety series originally printed in 2006 by Steve Escoto. If you lived in mountain lion or bear country you would prob- ably want to know a little bit about them just in case you ever met one on the road. The decisions you'd make at those critical moments could make the difference between serious injury or even life and death. We don't have any mountain lions or bears here but we do have another serious predator and it's not the little Island Fox. On Catalina the Big Bad Wolf is FIRE! You may have forgotten or maybe you never knew that Catalina is in a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone as classi- fied by the county of Los Angeles Fire Code. This means Catalina is an area designated as highly vulnerable to wildfire based on these forces on its own can drive a fire to burn more intensely and with greater severity. But when all three forces are "in alignment" with each other they can combine to deliver the maximum poten- tial causing a fire to burn with its great- est intensity for the conditions present. Under.the influence of hot dry mid-sum- mer winds a fire in the tinder dry grasses can quickly spread to the thicker brush and will blow up canyon and up slope and reach the top with the explosive force of a giant blow- torch. Do you know the #1 Rule for surviving such a wildfire? GET OUT OF ITS WAY! You want to be where the fire isn't! But what if you can't? What if you're taken by surprise and ambushed by fire in one of those many areas of the Island where fire can stalk and trap pray? in thi critical situation that knowing just a little and~ Steve Escoto Columnist your nition, a road is one that runs between the top and bottom of the side of a hill or mountain. It has unburned fuel above it and below it and is usually narrow with very few places to turn around. Any fire that starts below you on a mid-slope road will, on its own, burn 16 times faster uphill than on level ground. Add to this worst- case scenario tons of unburned fuel which has been preheated all morning by the hot summer sun and is now being further pushed uphill by 15 - 25 mph Santa Ana winds and you get an instant life threatening situation. Remember the blowtorch? Here it comes! No time to run, the critical p0rti n thi incident will be over in the first few minutes and you're all alone and on your own. Is there any special knowledge about fires on mid-slope roads that can make the difference between serious injury or life and death? Yes, there is! The next time you drive a mid-slope road notice that for the most part it zigzags along the -natural contour of the land turning into the hill and then out along the outside before it rams in again. Firefighters everywhere call these mid-slope road features in-turns and out-turns. If you had to make a 50-50 decision right now where to park your vehicle if a fire were coming would you pick an in-turn or an out-turn? If you said in-turn then you need to pay real close atten- tion. In-turns are categorically the worst places to be on a mid-slope road if fire is burning up towards you. Here's why: in-turns are drainages caused by water eroding a path down the side of the hill. When it rains, water gathers and flows mostly down these drain- ages until it reaches the bottom. More plant life grows in these drainages due to the extra water flowing and every~ng falceg lfs natural course. Now, along comes fire and guess what it does? It does the exact opposite of water on mid- slope roads. Where water comes down the hill, fire has a tendency to burn up the hill. Water follows the drainage down and fire follows the drainage up. So, fire has a tendency to bum up through the in-turns in a mid- slope and with greater intensity than through an 0utturn. Given a choice in a critical situation, park on an out-turn and definitely not on an in-turn. In next week's feature we will learn about which side of the canyon is most favor- able for fire safety on Catalina, the East facing slope or the West-fac- ing slope. We will also be learning what it means to keep one foot in the black, LCES and other valuable components of the Catalina Fire Plan 2005. In closing, this part of the series was written with our most vulnerable mid-slope road in mind: Stage Road, which goes from the Hogs Back Gate to the summit. Other mid-slope roads in our neighborhood include Wrigley Road, Chimes Tower Road, Hogs Back Road, Renton Mine Road, the Hour Trail and Memorial Road. The next-most-dangerous roads during tqres are r~dge top roads like Airport Road, Divide Road and East End Road. Fire sur- vival tactics will also be discussed for these special road conditions in the weeks to come. Accessing health care just got a lot easier for residents and visitors of the West End. Beginning Saturday, April 4, Catalina I~land Medical Center will be operating a monthly medical clinic at Two Harbors. Whether it's a routine physical, a follow-up appointment or management of a chronic condition, West End residents will no longer have to travel to Avalon to see a doctor or other practitioner. Anticipated services include diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, preventative health maintenance, well child check ups and management of chronic conditions. A physician or nurse practitioner, will provide health care--as well as a nurse or medical assistant. Initially, the clinic will be offered monthly, but plans are in the works to re-evaluate the frequency of the schedule as the community's needs become more apparent. Additional days may be added as needed in the summer season as well. In the winter, mo t of the West End Clinic patients will be residents of Two Harbors; in the summer, however, Medical Center taff anticipate that they will also be treating visiting boaters, campers and other island visitors. According to Medical Center CEO Bryan Ballard, the West End Clinic is part of the medical center's overall commitment to meet the Island community's health care needs. "The medical center's new West End Clinic w~ll allow patients easier access to luality medical care," he said. "It represents the on-going dedication of Medical Center ~mff, who worked diligently to make this clinic a reality." He also said support from the community and staff dedication were instrumental in seeing the new clinic become a reality. "The community as a whole has been most supportive of the project--we simply would not have been able to bring this about without all the help we've gotten from so many residents of the West End," he said. "Dawn Sampson' s determination in seeing the project through to completion is recognized by all as being a major factor in the success of this project." The West End Clinic has been in the works for several years. It was made possible by a grant from the medical center received from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources Services Administration, Rural Health Outreach Grant Program. "'The West End Clinic is the culmination of many years of work," Medical Center Grants Administrator Dawn Sampson said. "It would not have been Orggigh with