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the Degree Confluence Project
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United States : California

3.3 miles (5.3 km) NE of Poway, San Diego, CA, USA
Approx. altitude: 364 m (1194 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap topo aerial world confnav)
Antipode: 33°S 63°E

Accuracy: 35 m (114 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: View to the East #3: View to the North #4: View to the West #5: Lake Poway.  Compare with visit #5, photo #7 #6: Vicinity #7: Pretty close #8: Burn area in red.  X is confluence.  Icons are lost houses. #9: Stucco eves - no exposed wood #10: Renewal!

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  33°N 117°W (visit #6)  

#1: View to the South

(visited by Dave Brooks)

14-Dec-2007 -- The area surrounding the 33N 117W confluence was burned by the Witch Creek fire on October 22, 2007. This fire ultimately consumed 310 sq. miles (803 sq. km) and destroyed 911 homes, 30 commercial buildings and 239 automobiles. It also killed two people who were found in the ruins of their home less than a mile (1.6 km) from this confluence.

An estimated 500,000 people were evacuated during this fire, my family among them. The four of us (and one dog) left Poway at 5 am that morning and went 12 miles (19 km) west to the coastal city of Del Mar. Just 16 hours later the fire was threatening Del Mar and we had to evacuate again, this time south to San Diego. My 83-year-old father was also evacuated in a school bus from his senior home to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

A similar fire swept San Diego County 4 years ago, and poor communication was singled out as a key problem. Since that time, a unified radio system has been put in place allowing emergency responders from the state, county and cities to speak to one another. Additionally, a “reverse 911” system was implemented, allowing officials to place telephone calls to thousands of residents at once, telling them to evacuate.

In order to see the fire damage around Lake Poway, I wanted to approach the confluence from the northwest as Ross Finlayson did last year. However, the city closed this area to public use while they did extensive erosion control work on the hills surrounding this lake, which is a drinking water reservoir. The work was completed and this area was reopened on December 13.

My family has been in Poway since 1970, and I have hiked around this lake many times. It was heartbreaking to see the damage along the trails. About the only positive thing that came of this is that bushwhacking is no longer required to get to the confluence because there IS no bush now. I left the Lake Poway trail and walked 0.4 mi (640 m) southeast to the confluence. The confluence property owner’s main house was saved but he lost his guest house (see remaining foundations in South view). Tom McCollum’s (see Notes below) house was also spared. Many others in this part of Poway were not so lucky; see the Google mashup by the San Diego Union Tribune.

Periodic wildfires are a fact of life in San Diego County. If they aren’t started by Mother Nature, a sociopathic arsonist will step up. In addition to improved communications, new housing in the City and County of San Diego is now built with sprinklers in all rooms and garages. And many houses here are now built with stucco eves so no wood is exposed.

To end on a positive note, I saw many plants that were already coming back. It will be interesting to see future visits as they record the rate of this renewal.


 All pictures
#1: View to the South
#2: View to the East
#3: View to the North
#4: View to the West
#5: Lake Poway. Compare with visit #5, photo #7
#6: Vicinity
#7: Pretty close
#8: Burn area in red. X is confluence. Icons are lost houses.
#9: Stucco eves - no exposed wood
#10: Renewal!
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)
  Notes
Tom McCollum writes:
I am a property owner adjacent to the 117 W 33 N confluence in Poway, CA. My house is visible in some of the panoramic photos on the website. In order to access the confluence you must use my road and driveway. I welcome people participating in this Project and will allow access if permission is requested. Unfortunately, I can only get you to about 50 meters. To get any closer would be on my neighbor's property. He has an easement through my land. I can help coordinate a visit with him as he has allowed access in the past. We have enjoyed most of the geocachers who have been respectful of the area. It is kind of interesting to live next to the only degree confluence in San Diego County. I have wondered if there was at cold war no decimal targeting missile aimed at us.
Any requests can be sent to the Western USA coordinator, and they will be forwarded to Tom.

Update (from visit 7):
While we were there, one of the homeowners came out, and apparently confusing us with geocachers, explained that the confluence "had been removed". He also said that he was having a lot of problems with mudslides, and asked that we not come back, and tell other people that the confluence was on private property.