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Just got back from the California fire zone, after staying with friends near Capistrano. I’ve been through earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes and man-made disasters before, but never a fire-storm.
At night, the mountains were literally on fire. Intense, brilliant reds again the night. Terror and the incredible beauty of it all gripped me at the same time. And I had never experienced the Santa Ana winds, whipping along at 80-100 miles and hour, hot. It was almost as if the desert was speaking, reclaiming the land, if only for a time.
The winds were too high for the planes and helicopters to come in and douse them. Or for firefighters on the ground to get close enough to battle the fires—there were many of them all around. If ever there was a need for non-human robots, this was it
There may have been systems in place to alert people of various stages of danger, but I didn’t see or hear any. Clearly, precise, constant information over the web and landlines is needed. Information that provided odds of your house being in danger given the various variables, especially wind direction, would be especially valuable.
In additon to robots and information, innovation in materials is needed. Many people had anti-fire tiles on their roofs (many didn’t), but much more can be done to develop fire-resistant housing materials.
And there is the problem of what to take—how to prioritize you’re most valuable things in the world—in the case of fire. The folks I was staying with got all the basics right—first the family albums, then the financial/personal papers, then the valuables (artwork, etc.), then the guests (maybe not in that order). But it is impossible to remember where things are in that kind of stress. Again, lists, locations, priorities—information on how to set up an escape in case of emergency would be valuable to everyone facing one.
Oh, the lights went out. A battery powered TV and a laptop charger for your car would be great too.
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