June 2003 Fire, page 3
The fire completely burned the grass and underbrush, which isn't such a bad thing by itself. The
problem is that where the dead debris had accumulated around the base of trees, it took them
out as well. These desert oak trees grow slowly and the ones in this area have been estimated to
be be 70 years old or more. The grass will be back in a few months, the cactus in a couple of
years, but the lost trees won't get replaced for decades.
Here's a good example of a tree that burned at the base. You can tell from all the ash that some
sort of underbrush, either a bush or dead branches from the tree itself, kept the fire going long
enough to catch the trunk on fire. We now make it a point to trim all the low-hanging dead
branches from the trees on our lot, and we don't let brush accumulate anywhere.
This was a pretty typical scene in the area after the fire.
I spent most of the day after the fire hiking the hillside putting out fires like this where I could.
The Forest Service mostly ignored these hot spots if they were well within the area already
burned, but I lugged a five gallon bucket of water around to put out those that were close to our
lot. Later that evening we counted about a hundred fires still glowing on the mountain, but all
except a few were gone by the following evening.