Creating A Non-Ignition Zone

Montclarions know that spring is awesome, with blooming flowers and greenery.  Most of us live on forested hills, where foliage grows prodigiously this time of year.  We’re all responsible for constantly trimming back and remaining code-compliant within the Wildfire Prevention District.  It’s a small price to pay, to protect our domiciles from the next Diablo Winds firestorm.

To learn more about “non-ignition zone” best practices, Montclarions and other Oakland Hills dwellers are invited to a special, free and educational Fire Prevention Meeting.  Mark your calendars for this Thursday evening, from 7-9 pm.

The North Hills Community Association (NCHA) has organized this event, featuring local experts and officials, at the Highlands Country Club (map).  No RSVP is needed, and we’re asked to park on the road outside the club.

Bob Sieben, who chairs the NCHA Fire Prevention Committee, has shared this agenda:

  • It’s about…six feet.  The main goal is to keep the six feet around your home free and clear of overgrowth.  Carol Rice will discuss which plants are appropriate and which are not in this key area. She is a natural resource manager and fire ecologist in private practice developing fire management plans with Wildland Resource Management, Inc.  Clients include homeowners associations, private developers and the City of Oakland. She is the past president of the California-Nevada-Hawaii Fire Council.
  • It’s about landscaping decisions.  Cheryl Miller will discuss landscaping issues in the non-ignition zone.  She is a registered Landscape Architect in private practice in Oakland who has worked with a wide range of construction and planning projects in the wildland urban interface in the East Bay hills. She is executive director of the Diablo Fire Safe Council and has served on the Board of the California Fire Safe Council.
  • It’s about what fire marshals do.  Leroy Griffen will discuss what inspectors look for in this critical area.  He is the Assistant Fire Marshal for the Oakland Fire Department.  (You do want to avoid those fines, right?)
  • It’s about neighbor reps, too.  Barbara Goldenberg attended the national wildland/urban interface fire education conference and has chaired the Advisory Committee to the Oakland Wildfire Prevention Committee.

Have you become blasé about learning new ways to protect your castles and cottages?  It’s time to double check your seasonal efforts, take a look at what grows around your home, and create a larger non-ignition zone.  History tells us that we’re ready for a major fire soon, since Diablo wind-fueled fires strike every two decades…like clockwork.

Pinhole Camera Captures Oakland Hills Sun

Sometimes toys can show you a different perspective of the world, one that’s even better than what grown-up tech gadgets can reveal.  Our case in point is solargraphy, which records the path of the sun.  And it’s wonderful to view the sun’s trajectory through a homemade pin-hole camera.

The solargraph captures movement through a single arc or multiple arcs of light, from sunrise to sunset.  We uncovered and wanted to share some interesting, experimental results aimed at our Oakland Hills sky.

Photographer Heather Champ has been an image booster by trade, running Flickr’s community efforts during its heyday.  Lately she’s continuing her image-sharing mission through Pinwheel, a start-up by former Flickr folks.

Anyway, Champ took her experimentation tasks to heart, working with both Quaker Oats and 16mm film canisters.  She had to figure out how to operate these pin-hole cameras and patiently await results.

Victory!  The images do show the sun’s path for a single day and for six months below.  The first one shows the sun on Sept 22, 2010, using the Quaker Oats canister.  For this single day, we think the spectrum of brown, green, white and blue is very beautiful.

The six-month image, below, is a tour de force.  The film canister-sized camera records the sun as it moved seasonally, from September 22, 2010 though March 20, 2011.  With so many days captured, the arcs merged to look like clouds or jet streams — and seem otherworldly.

If you want to try documenting the sun yourself, then follow these “recipes” for the Quaker Oats or 16mm film canister cameras.  Also here’s a link for setting up a six-month exposure, to capture an entire season or two.  It’s best to follow Champ’s lead (read post), by using multiple cameras to check results early and prevent failure.