Conditions in Palo Alto area hills are ripe for wildfire | News

Palo Alto and the Bay Area are at great risk for a large fire similar to the Camp Fire in Butte County, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesman said. The Bay Area is currently vulnerable to a possible fire that could spread into residential areas because of low humidity, dry vegetation and light winds, Cal Fire spokesman Jim Crawford said. “We’ve had some pretty extreme conditions in the last month. It’s never really changed,” he said, noting the sustained, offshore winds that bring drier air. The relative humidity in the Los Altos/Palo Alto mountainous areas has recently been as low as 16 percent and as high as 42 percent, depending on the time of day, according to National Weather Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data. But the historical November average humidity is about 68 percent. Even more concerning, the vegetation or “fuel” moisture in the past week was only 5-7 percent — exceedingly dry — according to NOAA. Local foothills and the Santa Cruz Mountains have a similar fuel load and topography as that near the town of Paradise. Hilly canyons there channelled winds and inc...

No homeowner wants to discover that they have a leaking roof. Thankfully, many original Victorian roofs

No homeowner wants to discover that they have a leaking roof. Thankfully, many original Victorian roofs have stood the test of time, largely due to the use of high quality materials. With older properties, however, it is important to makes regular checks for potential problems and deal with them before disaster strikes. This feature is an edited extract from the Victorian & Edwardian House Manual by Ian Rock, published by Haynes. Ian Rock is a chartered surveyor and director of survey price comparison website rightsurvey.co.uk If up in the loft you can see the undersides of the slates or tiles fixed to thin rows of timber battens, then your roof is likely to be original. Although some roofs in more expensive later Victorian houses have timber ‘sarking boarding’ laid over the rafters, the practice of draping sheets of underfelt beneath the tiles as a secondary line of defence is a relatively modern concept – previously any moisture seeping through in stormy weather would have dried out thanks to lofts being well ventilated.  Damp problems can occur where old roofs have been re-clad and underfelted, unless ventilation is improved to compensate. Modern ‘breather membranes’ are ...