Thursday, October 25, 2007

How Could A Fire Start In Orange County?

Concepcion said onshore winds Thursday morning should help firefighters "get the upper hand on this thing."

The arsonist's motive was a mystery to Concepcion.

"That's the part that I really can't figure out, to tell you the truth," he told CNN. "That individual knew on Sunday when this fire started that we had, really, the perfect storm, if you will. We had the heavy Santa Ana winds, we had the low relative humidities, we had the high temperatures.

- Orange County Fire Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion

Chief Concepcion really seems to lack even rudimentary knowledge common to most fire investigation teams. It could also be that he deliberately does not want to provide reasons to any potential arsonists. In any event, here are some common and not-so-common possibilities for why the Santiago Canyon fires were started. They are listed in no particular order.
Goose Bay House Fire 0004

- Insurance scam

- Resident was unable to afford rising mortgage payments and about to default

- Pyromania or sickness related to starting fires could easily be a reason

- Years of watching California state and federal funds pour into Orange County while the arsonist's community is neglected

- Revenge for some ongoing dispute with individuals or organizations in the affected region, most likely downwind of the fire origin point(s)

- Eco-terrorists seeking to "save the environment" from some perceived threat.

- Fire fighting personnel needing money starts fire(s) to generate more work

- Deranged real estate agent or builder with some plan to generate more business

- Foreign operative seeing an easy opportunity to attack U.S. citizens

- The concentration of wealth in Orange County must be despised by more than a few people. The arsonist may have grown to hate arrogant super-rich Orange Co. residents who flaunt their wealth.


- Children playing with matches or lighter

- Cigarettes tossed from car windows.

- Catalytic converter lights dry grass while a car is idling by the side of the road.

- Incorrect backlighting procedures followed by poorly trained fire fighters.


These are all legitimate possibilities for how a fire could have been started by other than natural causes such as lightning or friction. As a researcher specializing in man-made and natural disasters, I can usually provide lengthy lists of potential reasons for any calamity. It remains the job of experienced investigators to pinpoint actual causes.

Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of any actual causes of these fires and have not visited California in the past 12 months.

Links: CNN article

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