Saturday, August 15, 2015

[californiadisasters] 1994 Highway 41 Fire Big Blow-up, Saturday, 15 August 2015

"1994 Highway 41 Fire Big Blow-up" reminder
Saturday, 15 August 2015
10:00 PM to 10:00 PM
(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time - Dublin / Edinburgh / Lisbon / London
San Luis Obispo County - Morro Bay/Atascadero/Santa Margarita
On this date in 1994 the Highway 41 Fire which began the day before blew up during the pre-dawn hours due to winds and made a run at Morro Bay and the hills east of town and above Highway 1. During this time it cut vital high tension power lines knocking out power to large areas of the Central Coast. Later in the morning the winds shifted and the fire directed it's fury inland at Atascadero. By this time the fire was well-established in heavy 50 year-old chaparral with up to 40 tons of fuel per acre, most of it dessicated from years of drought (1984-1990)with lots of fallen limbs from two snow storms in 1988 and 1991, an epic freeze in 1990 and then in this year one of the driest Winters (Winter of 1993-1994) ever recorded and now on this day triple digit temperatures (hundred-teens inland) with single digit relative humidities. The firestorm that ensued burned up 2 acres per second or over 7,000 acres per hour at it's climax when it ran out of the Los Padres National Forest like a tsunami of fire and washed over the hills west of Atascadero jumping Highway 101 on the southern margins of town and burning through much of Santa Margarita Ranch and all around the town of Santa Margarita. During the peak of the firestorm winds were blowing strongly out of the northeast in downtown Atascadero (as they NEVER do in Summertime) and feeding directly into the fire to the west and southwest. Both sides of Highway 101 were burned from about the southern city limit of Atascadero all the way to part-way down the southern face of the Cuesta Grade outside San Luis Obispo. Forty-two homes were destroyed, most in Tassajara Canyon where it was described as looking like a blow-torch oriented horizontally. The fire ultimately burned into Upper Lopez Canyon and was stopped a few days later when the fog rolled in for a final size of 48,352 acres.
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