LEN & MARILYN GARDNER, Dana Point
Wake up, Dana Point—we could be the next Lahaina.
The horrific firestorm that decimated Lahaina was driven by high winds, but the wind didn’t spark the blaze. According to UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain, as well as several reputable news sources, it appears that there were multiple ignitions from downed power lines.
The lesson of the Lahaina catastrophe is clear.
“The catalyst appears to be a very familiar story from California … There are rumors that very strong winds blew power lines down or blew branches into the power lines, which ignited the brush; we’ve seen that a lot of that in California,” Swain said in his Aug. 9 weather blog.
We now live in a world where none of us can afford to ignore the erratic nature of climate change. Lahaina and its downed power lines serve as a graphic warning to us across the Pacific—that this type of tragedy can happen here in Dana Point.
Whether driven by the winds of a freak offshore hurricane, or by the strong, dry winds of a Santa Ana, the threat of a scenario such as the one on Maui is inescapable.
It is good that groups such as the Poles and Lines Coalition (P.A.L.) have made our citizenry aware, and that the City of Dana Point commissioned a study of overhead lines in our city and issued a report about it last November, and also recently authorized the undergrounding of utilities on one street: Stonehill Drive. While this is good, it is not enough.
It’s the public utilities that have the authority, the funds, and bear the responsibility to change the dangerous dynamic of overhead utilities and climate change.
They must act now. Lives are at stake, whole towns are at stake, and their own corporate survival is at stake when justice prevails in the halls of bankruptcy court.