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Posts Tagged ‘fire’

About that High Park fire

Posted by Richard on June 12, 2012

The High Park fire in the mountainous regions west of Fort Collins, CO, actually began with a lightning strike last Wednesday, according to the experts. But it smoldered unnoticed until Saturday morning when increasing winds caused it to flare up and be noticed. At that time, it covered 2 acres.

By late Saturday afternoon, it had burned an estimated 5,000 acres. Some climbers on the summit of Longs Peak recorded this video of the smoke plume (along with a nice shot of a marmot):

[YouTube link]

By Sunday evening, the fire had consumed 20,000 acres. As of early Monday evening, it was 41,000+ acres, the third-largest fire in recorded Colorado history. Over 2,000 residences have been evacuated, one resident is believed dead, and over 120 structures are known to have been destroyed. In a poignant moment described by Gov. John Hickenlooper, firefighters trying to protect the historic Prairie Stove School in the path of the flames looked up the hill to see their own homes being consumed by the flames.

So how did this fire grow so incredibly fast? The news media, the governor, and the experts talked mostly about the dry spring, low humidity, and high winds. Those are certainly major factors. As usual, some people will blame “climate change.” But I think there are two other major culprits: insects and environmentalists. The former are mentioned in passing, the latter are never mentioned.

The pine bark beetle began invading and killing Colorado’s lodgepole pine forests back in the 1990s. By 2008, it was estimated to have infested 1.5 million acres, including the portions of Larimer County west of Fort Collins that were hit by two smaller fires (5-6,000 acres) earlier this spring and are now being devastated by the High Park fire. By last fall, the estimate was up to 3 million acres.

Since early in the beetle epidemic, logging companies have offered proposals to cut dead and infested trees in order to limit spread of the beetle and reduce the risk of massive dead-tree-fueled wildfires. They’ve had some limited success in getting permission for such cutting, but have been opposed by environmentalists every step of the way. The environmental groups insist that letting the beetles kill the trees is natural, letting the dead trees stand is natural, but letting human beings cut them down, remove them, and turn them into construction lumber or pellet stove fuel is unnatural. To radical environmentalists, anything that non-humans do is natural and anything that humans do is unnatural — to them, we humans are, unlike all other living creatures, not a part of nature.

My heart goes out to those who’ve lost their homes and to the family of apparent victim Linda Steadman. But although it may sound cruel, I have to say to those residents of the area who were members of Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, and similar groups: You helped bring this onto yourselves. You chose to value pine bark beetles and the “naturalness” of dead trees more than the needs of humans. You have reaped what you have sown.

There are millions more acres of dead lodgepole pines in Colorado. Many more of those acres will, IMHO, go up in flames in the future. Because radical environmentalists have prevented them from being harvested.

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Heroic feline

Posted by Richard on January 13, 2011

I'm back! Did you miss me? (Did you even notice I was gone?) Sorry for the long absence, and a belated Happy New Year. It was a combination of way too much work, too little motivation, and a major computer meltdown that took forever to resolve.

In the last couple of weeks, there have been a bazillion things about which I should spout off. But for now, I'll just give you a little feel-good story you probably missed (unless you're in Chattanooga, TN). At least, it's a feel-good story for those of us who are cat lovers: 

At 4 a.m., Cornett was awakened by the loud and repeated meows of the family's cat. Bustopher Jones, named after a character in the musical "Cats," wouldn't shut up — meow, meow, meow, meow.

"I was a little annoyed, and I raised up and thought, 'What is that cat doing?'" she said.

What he was doing was saving the lives of the entire family.

Awake on the sofa, she smelled the smoke. The smoke alarm hadn't even gone off, and Talullah, Lexiss and Seamus, the Cornetts' three dogs, were asleep, not making a sound. 

Bustopher, a shelter cat, saved the lives of Angi Cornett, her husband, three children, and three dogs. And instead of thanking Bustopher, one of the dogs viciously attacked him, causing nearly-fatal injuries. 

Fortunately, the Cornetts got him to a veterinary hospital, and he survived: 

Jones came home Friday from an animal hospital in Cleveland. The bill was $241 and left the family with about $30 in their checking account.

But Cornett said she doesn't regret anything.

"He fought back from the brink of death," she said. "I just want Jones to be recognized."

He was. The McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center, from which Bustopher Jones was adopted, has awarded him the "McKamey Purple Paw certificate of meritorious conduct." 

Good for you, Bustopher Jones! And I think you should lord it over those useless dogs from here on out. 🙂 

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Atheists defend Catholic professor

Posted by Richard on July 19, 2010

The University of Illinois has fired a Catholic professor of religion for letting it be known that he agrees with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Among those coming to his defense is an atheist and agnostic student group:

Faculty and students are rallying behind a University of Illinois professor whom they say was fired simply because of his religious beliefs.

Dr. Kenneth Howell, an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism, was told recently that he could no longer teach in the university's Department of Religion. A student at the university accused Howell of engaging in hate speech when he stated in a class review session that he agreed with the Church's teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.

According to The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the complaining student wasn't enrolled in Howell's class.

But Howell refused to leave without a fight, and now he has over 3,100 supporters fighting with him — via a Facebook group called "Save Dr. Ken."

"It's turning into a whole movement for freedom of speech in the classroom," said senior Tim Fox, a member of the group and former resident at the university's Catholic student Newman Center.


Students at the center are not the only ones protesting. The campus secularist group, Atheists, Agnostics & Freethinkers, has taken up Howell's cause. Howell had worked with the group in the past, helping organize a public debate between an atheist and a Catholic on "Does the Christian God Exist?" last February. Its president wrote a letter to the university chancellor, Robert Easter, saying, "[Howell] has shown a commitment to the questioning of all ideas. His loss is a profound blow to the University of Illinois and its purpose… Who will next be silenced?" 

Other students said Howell's dismissal was not just an issue of freedom of speech, but revealed a double standard at the university.

"Professor Howell didn't mean to insult homosexuals; he was just stating the Catholic position," said Mike Hamoy, a senior chemistry major who took Howell's class in fall 2009. "I've had multiple professors who have mocked how much Catholic families reproduce or who have implied to the class that God is a joke. Why aren't these professors fired for their open insults?"

The FIRE is intervening in the case, as it does countless times every year in defense of free speech on campus. It has a great record of success, but speech suppression and political correctness run amok are rampant on America's campuses, and there is no shortage of outrageous cases for them to address. The FIRE deserves your support.  

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Time for a Freeway Truth Movement!

Posted by Richard on May 2, 2007

I've been thinking about the fiery crash on I-80/I-880 Sunday near Oakland, California. According to news reports, a tanker truck carrying thousands of gallons of gasoline overturned and burst into flames, causing two sections of freeway overpass to collapse within minutes:

Two connector ramps of the Bay Bridge MacArthur Maze (map), located near Emeryville, collapsed Sunday morning after an explosion and fire.

Heat from the fire, which reached temperatures estimated at up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, caused the metal bolts and girders on the highway connector ramp above to melt. The overpass then gave way and collapsed.

NBC 7/39's sister station in San Jose talked to a witness of the fire. Paul Kochli said he was driving from San Francisco to Napa at around 4 a.m. when he noticed a huge plume of smoke and a mushroom cloud. Kochli said he recorded 59 seconds of the fire. He said the overpass had already collapsed by 4:05 a.m.

Other witnesses reported flames from the blaze reached up to 200 feet high.

The tanker was under the overpass.

Aerial views showed at least two sections of the maze totaling about 250 yards in length had collapsed.

(Note: The video below isn't the Kochli video mentioned in the story. This one's from a fellow called baconmonkey, and it's shot on a Canon high-definition camcorder — not that YouTube even vaguely approximates high-def, but it's well worth watching.)

Well, the official story says heat from the fire collapsed the overpasses. But of course, we know from concerned scientists and engineers who studied the World Trade Center collapses that fires can't melt steel — that a chemical explosion is required. Ask Rosie! Or check out the experiment by a member of the reality-based community that I wrote about last summer: 

fire burning in rabbit fence "building"


I think that the freeway overpass was just as likely to have been brought down by controlled demolition as the World Trade Center buildings. The Governor of California, the President of the United States, and Karl Rove are all Republicans — coincidence? Do we know what ties exist between Dick Cheney, Halliburton, and the California highway construction industry? Why did Caltrans rush its "demolition contractor" onto the site within hours to remove the evidence? Doesn't it strain credulity to believe that the driver walked away from the inferno and caught a cab to the hospital?

These and other questions demand answers! We need a Freeway Truth Movement, with Californians for Freeway Truth, Scholars for Freeway Truth, Press for Freeway Truth, Truck Drivers for Freeway Truth, Freeway Truth Radio, and a whole host of other like-minded organizations committed to uncovering the real truth behind the so-called tanker truck accident. 

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