The latest fire burned at Frowning Ridge, mostly burning the area that UC had “treated” a number of years ago and also spreading slightly north on UC land to an area that still had some tall trees…although not many.
This first photos shows part of the burn looking from the south. Please note that all the ground fuels are gone but the trees on the UC property immediately north didn’t burn. Additionally, while the fire spread a bit to the east on the other side of the road it did not spread at all to the euc grove visible on the right where there was another suspicious fire last summer. That fire took out all the understory but left all the trees unaffected. It would appear that in the absence of any understory fuels at that site there simply was no fire this time.
In taking a closer look I found some interesting things. First, the trees that UC left on the ground after cutting them when they treated Frowning ridge years ago did exactly what they were supposed to do one they were drying out on the ground….burned. Seems that UC managed to convert highly non-combustible vegetation into fuel.
Next shots are of the eucs and pines at the northern section of the fire. As has been the case with every fire site I’ve toured since ’91, the eucs and pine are about the last thing to burn. In this case you can see that all the understory fuels were consumed and the tree trunks were singed, but that’s all that happened. There’s no evidence of any leaves having ignited much less whole trees going up in flames.
The conclusions are pretty hard to refute:
1. UC’s methodology didn’t work. It created conditions with large amounts of chaparral and grasses which burned voraciously with long flame lengths.
2. Where there were no ground fuels there simply was no fire.
3. Where the fire spread to areas with eucs and pines there was minimal damage to these species. I walked the whole site and the only evidence I could find of damage to these species was a large pine that the firefighters had cut down on the lower slope. But it’s unclear why it was cut down as there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of ignition.
4. It would seem that UC needs to do something about the party scene they created on Grizzly Peak so that said parties don’t result in wildfire ignition….which seems to be happening with increasing regularity.