Another question about California fires (why are trees still standing)

I just heard a reporter on NBC say that the white ash was the result of fires burning at “thousands of degrees” and yet trees are still standing, albeit without their leaves.

How and why is that happening?

I also heard him say that in the past year, more FFs have died from suicide than from fires, although one doesn’t necessarily cause the other. (My dad is a retired FF; we live in the Midwest so the flora is totally different.)

There is a lot of water in trees, so they don’t burn as easily as dead wood.

Those “standing trees” are probably largely charcoal after the fire has passed.

In rare instances tree trunks have remained standing even after being encased in molten lava - See “lava trees”.

Fires also can have pockets where things are untouched.

As PastTense has indicated if they’re living trees there’s a lot of water in them. Also bark acts as an effective insulator as the fire passes quickly through the stand.

Not sure so much about conifers but for the eucalyptus trees they are mostly still alive and will reshoot from the epicormic buds.

Can look a bit surreal, hectares of blackened trucks seeming wrapped in vivid green woolly blanket.


I was asking in large part because I’ve seen footage, more than once this time around, of trees that caught fire FROM THE INSIDE, most likely because burning embers settled in a crotch and ignited from dead organic matter. However, they may have been hollow and dying anyway, IDK.

I wonder why firefighters have a higher suicide rate? Maybe they don’t feel that they have lived up to their responsibility in dangerous situations?? My nephew had some depression issues working as an EMT for the fire dept and seeing so many bad accidents. He switched over to fighting fires.

Whoever mentioned FF suicides didn’t say how many died from either cause, or the percentages. I do remember that the divorce rate among my dad’s colleagues was about the same as that of the general population.

A fire can have a temperature of thousands of degrees, yet not have very much heat. Temperature is, roughly speaking, a measure of the amount of energy in each molecule. But air doesn’t have very many molecules in any given volume (well, compared to solids and liquids). And it takes a lot of heat to change the temperature of water. Consider that you can reach your hand inside an oven full of 450ºF air, without even feeling any discomfort from it. “Thousands of degrees” is hotter than that, of course, and trees do take some damage from a fire… but trees can also withstand a lot more damage than humans can.

Also, keep in mind the flames are moving fast and may only burn the easy, small, light stuff like small branches, leaves, and needles, before moving on. Thicker limbs and trunks get scorched but otherwise remain. These fires have been wind-driven. It’s not like they are subjected to a 1,000 degree flame for an hour.

The trees are more than likely killed, but if they were healthy before the fire they will stay standing for a while.

Here’s a question about this epicormic thing: Is that what happens when a tree is cut down, and sprouts arise from the stump? We’ve had some trees cut down in my neighborhood due to emerald ash borer disease, and this happened to some of the stumps even though they were cut flush with the ground. In the meantime, someone came in and ground up the stumps, and covered them with sawdust.

My sister lives in San Diego, and she has a friend who grew up in Paradise and then the mom moved to SD a few years ago because she had lost her husband and wanted to be closer to her grandchildren; she has others in LA but SD worked out better for her. That neighborhood is now gone.

Trees can also leave hollow “casts” in sand dunes, and a few years before, fossilized trees with the shapes of their leaves and bark were found “intact” in an Illinois coal mine.

Here’s another story about what is or may be gone.

That’s called Coppicing

Trees are also evolutionarily designed to live through wildfires. They kind of have to be or else every decade the species would be wiped out. Especially in the West where fire was more frequent, you find conifers with extremely thick bark that acts like armor against most non-catastrophic fires. They also will drop their lower limbs as they age so that the fire is less likely to climb into the canopy. Their saps are also designed to flow into fire scarred areas during times of high heat to serve as an additional barrier and smother embers that get stuck in the cracks in the bark. There are some species like Ponderosa Pines and Sequoias that are nearly fire invincible. Deciduous trees are more vulnerable, but they tend to be in wetter areas where fire is less of a threat. And even they can survive most low intensity fires.

It depends on the species of tree, among other things. There are many strategies for survival. Some are not fire resistant at all. Some resprout from the base. Redwoods (Sequoia and Sequoiadendron) have extremely thick rather inflammable spongy bark which allows them to survive most fires.

There are certainly some dramatic photos of trees not only surviving, but seemingly being untouched while adjacent houses are burnt to the ground. It’s either because trees are full of water, or because the NWO are using directed energy weapons to selectively burn people out of their homes so that they can implement Agenda 21 and take over the world. But it’s probably because trees are full of water.

We could try explaining this to Cheetolini, but he insists that all the fires here are caused by poor forest/tree management.

On a (somewhat) related note, to what degree is controlled burning used to combat these fires? I don’t hear all that much about it and it strikes me as far and away the most effective strategy to prevent wildfires. So is it used extensively and i just dont hear about it? Or is it more of a complementary tool?

I can’t speak to the details in California, but in my area controlled burns are done on the remaining prairie areas. They have to be scheduled with care, can be cancelled if the weather conditions make the burns harder to control, and every couple of years one gets away and results in a bigger fire than planned - and that’s in MUCH wetter Indiana.

The fact is that the landscape in California is dry a good part of the year and subject to regular fires and that is the natural state of the landscape. There are plants that require burning - lodgepole pine and eucalyptus encased their seeds, and those casing require burning before the seeds can germinate. There are other plants whose seeds and remain germinated for years in the soil until the chemicals generated by burning vegetation signal them to sprout. California is full of such “pyrophytic” plants, which indicates that the landscape burns so frequently that adapting to require fire is a viable evolutionary path. Since some of these pyrophytic species - such as pines and eucalyptus - are full of resins that burn very nicely doing a controlled burn is a bit tricky, especially when combined with regular lack of rain. Some species of eucalyptus shed their bark, piling up flammable bits at their base over time. It’s like these plants want to be set on fire.

Even if you do perform controlled burns in rural/wilderness areas, doing them in suburbia is more of an issue as the average home owner is reluctant to allow crews to start fires in their backyard for some reason. Poor vegetation management around inhabited areas is a problem. People want “landscaping” with trees and bushes near the house, even if in California the safer thing is to clear a firebreak all around buildings. That means no bushes, no trees, nothing up close to the house. It also is safer to build with stone and concrete and tiles rather that wooden exteriors but people don’t listen and they wind up with a building made out of fire-fuel sitting, during the dry season, in a nest of tinder. Even with perfectly managed forests this will continue to be a problem in California.