Letter: Observations on the Fires in Canada

Hugh, I wanted to comment on the article about the folks fleeing the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Canada. I saw some classic SurvivalBlog themes in there: Keep your gas tanks full. The gas station owner noted that people were “fighting each other to get gas, growing more and more desperate as the afternoon wore on.” Keep your gas tanks full, (yes I’m repeating myself). Later on the writer notes people were abandoning their cars on the highway since they knew they wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it to their destination. Don’t be a refugee. The folks that went to the camps not only were now at the whim of the government, but the same government that sent them there now had to try and get them out of there since it was no longer safe. Keep your head about you and use common sense. The writer correctly observed that the fire would head north and therefore he headed south, out of harm’s way. Kudos to them. Don’t trust the government to give you good advice, particularly low level police officers. (I say this as a former 23-year low level police officer.) The cops in the gas station were telling … Continue reading

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Surviving the 2015 Fire of Lake County California- Part 2, by B.G.

Looters- Lessons Learned You don’t need to be an expert killer to deter an attacker. The people who loot an evacuated area are generally cowardly. You need only appear more of a threat than the average person. Buy a gun, learn to use it, but don’t obsess. The survivalist fantasy of defending your home against squads of organized killers is just that– fantasy. What is more realistic is that you will stumble into the opportunist that thinks “mandatory evacuation” means “no one is at home”. Encounters can happen any time. If you are staying, start carrying a gun shortly after mandatory evacuations are called. Stay out of sight and in an area were it is unlikely for anyone to sneak up on you. Getting the drop on an intruder is 99% of the game. Dogs or geese are very useful. The food and water you need to keep them alive is worth it. You won’t sleep well with looters around, but you’ll sleep better with a furred or feathered intruder alarm. A sign warning that looters will be shot is worth the effort. Which house would you choose: the one with a warning sign or the one without? Dealing With … Continue reading

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Surviving the 2015 Fire of Lake County California- Part 1, by B.G.

This is a true story of a thirty-something survivalist/engineer and his family as well as some lessons learned in the second most destructive fire in California history. I had seen other large fires in Lake County over the years, and they would arrive in apocalyptic fashion, as the up swelling of a mushroom cloud. This one started no differently on a windy afternoon as I was pulling pork chops off of the grill. At about one o’clock in the afternoon, the wall of black smoke that erupted to our south immediately flattened out due to the wind. It formed an anvil shape with its horns stabbing like a dagger at the hamlet of Middletown. We immediately got out the portable scanner that I had bought in response to two other large fires that had recently missed our home. The day suddenly became night, and the roosters crowed. The underbelly of the black curtain soon glowed a hellish orange, and the power was cut. Our cell phone and scanner became the only window through this curtain. Listening to the scanner, it became clear that the carefully designed incident command system– the backbone of the wildland firefighter organization– began to crack like … Continue reading

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Wilderness Fire: An Unexpected Retreat From Our Retreat, by L.F.P.

We have a boat-in only glamorous camping (“glamping”) retreat on a large lake in the West on the very edge of Wilderness-designated public forest land. The nearest road is more than three miles away. We were there in early August on summer vacation from the city. Several small lightning-caused wilderness fires had been burning for more than a month during the ongoing drought conditions. These fires flared up in very rugged terrain due to a rare severe August windstorm with gusts above 60 mph. The smoke had started to get noticeable on the lake and light ash was raining down from the fires which were over fifteen miles away and on the other side of the lake. Firefighters were quickly overwhelmed by the wind-driven flames with dry conditions and retreated. Containment of the fires was suddenly near 0%. Air assets were deployed mostly elsewhere in the state and region. These normally available but now missing air assets contributed to our prolonged calm since large growing or threatening wildfires usually are accompanied by lots of helicopter and airplane noise. We only witnessed spotter planes twice per day. We felt safe both in distance from the fire and being on the other … Continue reading

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Letter Re: Lessons Learned

This article is not be representative of many insurance policies. I am a insurance agent. First, I am sorry they had to go through such a horrible tragedy. People need to remember insurance policies vary from state to state and policy to policy. For the policies that I manage, these are the issues that are different: First auto policies are not replacement cost. They are blue book value (aka NADA), less your deductible. You could very well end up upside down, meaning you could still be paying payments on a destroyed vehicle, where you owe more than it’s worth. The bank usually doesn’t force you to rebuild the home. They just want their “interest of the home” paid back. Some insurance policies do cover trees and shrubs up to $250, depending on the company and type of homeowners policy. You can also insure your personal property for replacement costs, just as you did the structure, which we recommend, so that you do not have to worry about depreciation. Still, some people choose not to purchase replacement cost insurance. You would be surprised. If there is a total loss, some companies will not make you make a list. They usually will … Continue reading

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Letter Re: Fire Suppression

HJL, I’ve been thinking more and more about possible fire suppression methods (a.k.a. “Fire Traps”) for SHTF, and I was wondering if you ever considered pre-staging fire-retardant materials in high-risk areas. This is just a theory, but have you considered hanging or placing materials that would dispense fire retardant if an actual fire broke out? This could be something like a bag or bucket hanging in a tree, so when the fire hits it, it melts the bag and dispenses the material. I realize in SHTF scenarios, you neither have the resources to fight a huge forest fire nor even have the expensive equipment (breathing gear, fire suits, et cetera) to combat a fire. Also, finite resources (like water) would probably be: Not sufficient enough to do any significant damage to a fire, Only localized to one area (the direction of the water being dispensed), and A danger to the person dispensing the water if they are not adequately protected from smoke inhalation and heat. By have pre-staged fire-suppression counter measures, you may be able to re-direct a fire or at least delay the fire enough to safely evacuate the area. It’s just an idea I’ve had, and I wanted … Continue reading

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Home Fire Prevention and Firefighting , by P.T.H.

Her name was Dawn. The fire that took her life started in the living room directly below her bedroom and spread quickly. It followed her father up the stairs as he tried to rescue her, setting his clothes on fire as he went. He grabbed the doorknob to Dawn’s room. It was red hot. There was no longer life on the other side of that door. It was 0045, New Year’s Day, 1976. Things like this are never forgotten. The wounds never heal. Dealing with the loss of a loved one this way is horrible in itself. Having it happen during a TEOTWAWKI situation may very well break you and your group. If these words save one person, I’ll put it down as an answered prayer, no matter what. First, the disclaimer: I’m not a firefighter. I did, however, spend twenty-one years in the military; several of them were at sea. The ship was my retreat. I was taught that it was the only thing between me and death, and we were drilled in firefighting and fire prevention constantly. You need to think of your retreat in the same manner. Chances are, no one’s coming to your rescue. You need … Continue reading

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Letter Re: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure for TEOTWAWKI

James, K.M. in Ohio’s post “Ounce of Prevention…” warns that “If the needles are 1 per hole, that’s NOT Pine” is not true. The warning about Fir needles being toxic is valid, but there are one needle pines. The state tree of Nevada is the Single Leaf Pinyon, Pinus monophylla. It is found almost exclusively in The Great Basin with two subspecies in California and Arizona. Besides the needles being a source of vitamin C as with other pines, it produces nutritious and delicious pine nuts. (It also makes the perfectly shaped Christmas tree!) – David in Carson City, Nevada

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Orange Jeep Dad’s House Fire Tragedy: How You Can Help

Many SurvivalBlog readers are familiar with the Orange Jeep Dad (OJD) blog. It is a great blog written by an X-ray technician prepper with a wife and six daughters. For more than two years, he’s been earnestly striving to live self-sufficiently. Two days ago, he posted about the tragedy of his house burning down. And today, he posted a follow-up. As I mentioned before, I doubt that his renter’s insurance will cover all of their losses, especially for things like storage food and ammo. In a recent e-mail, OJD mentioned these details: “For now, I for sure lost my Glock 27 and old double barrel side-by-side hammerless. Hadn’t verified the age yet. It was not one of the $1,000 type. More like $250. My thousands of rounds of ammo in every caliber is gone. My wife’s .38 Special revolver survived in our safe as did our certificates and licenses. Our bullion silver seems to have made it although I have to pry it out of the melted plastic to see for sure. (It was not in the safe.) All of our #10 cans of freeze dried food preps are gone (dehydrated strawberries, blueberries, banana chips, powdered eggs, apple cubes, butter … Continue reading

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Second Chances, by Dirt Surgeon

Introductory Note: I originally composed this story in August of 2011 just months after our family went through a devastating event.  At the time of writing the essay was short, sweet and to the point.  I have reconstructed my family’s journey of the past 24 months to the present. Thanks for all that you and others do by sharing information, educating and inspiring the thought process. It is my hope that this short family history will provoke some to think about their lifestyle, what is important and the effect an event like this has on a family. Four years ago my wife and I purchased fifty acres that join our families’ three hundred and fifty acre farm, built a new home and a seven acre lake (we built both the house and lake ourselves, our labor our time).  We sold a business that we built at a very large profit.  We dumped the capital back into the purchase of the 50 acres.  The plans were to built modestly and have a small mortgage or none at all; we got carried away and ended up with land free and clear but $138,000 mortgage on the house and 10 acres.  Once the … Continue reading

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Letter Re: Lessons Learned from the Black Forest, Colorado Fire

Dear JWR; There is nothing like a real emergency to get you checked out in a quick way for your evacuation plan. During the Black Forest Fire, which began on June 11, 2013, at least 511 homeowners completely lost their homes, many more were damaged and are uninhabitable, two people and countless animals perished in the fire. Our family and business were in the direct path of the fire, but a major wind shift the first night, along with hard-working first responders saved us. Sitting at the office ready for our afternoon of work, a friend walked in and sid, “did you see the fire?” Expecting a wispy white trail of smoke when I peered out the window, I was immediately floored when what I saw was a GIANT plume of black smoke heading our way. LESSON ONE – Take Action. My husband and I took 30 seconds to put the “Office Closed, Fire Drill” sign on the front door and we were outta there and home in four minutes. We did not debate, question, ponder, look, examine; we went directly home. I know some who dawdled to watch and photograph, but then had only minutes to “grab and go.” … Continue reading

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Letter Re: Preparedness for Hazardous Chemical Spills

Dear Sir, I work as an firefighter/EMT and Hazardous Materials Tech in the Greater Louisville, Kentucky region. I would like to provide your readership with two examples of ‘stabilized’ emergencies going wrong in the last year in the Louisville area alone. Both could have been catastrophic had it not been for quick thinking and pure dumb luck. The first incident began in late October of last year when 11 cars of a 57-car Paducah and Louisville line (a CSX owned company) derailed in the southwest corner of Jefferson County, very near Fort Knox. The cars that derailed were carrying Butadiene and Hydrogen Fluoride. Understand that Hydrogen Fluoride is a very powerful asphyxiant and as an added bonus is heavier than air so it doesn’t easily disperse into the atmosphere. The incident was stabilized and just about to leave the front of the news when three days later, workers ignited fumes from the Butadiene car and caused an explosion. Three severely burned forms walked themselves up to the street and and were transported to hospital. Intense flames were feet from the Hydrogen Fluoride car although not quite impinging. Just as the city was getting used to the main highway in the … Continue reading

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