Yeah, I lived at the western end of the San Fernando Valley 45 years ago. Same thing, every year. They said it was mostly creosote bush that fed most of those fires, driven by katabatic winds.
As long as we realize that someone is setting these fires.
CalFire planes take off from the Grass Valley airport, I hear them fly over my house, but the fire might be way over in Paradise, or it might be nearby and blowing my way.
So I turn on the local radio station, KNCO,but it's only prerecorded blather - no news there.
I go to "The Union" newspaper website - no info.
I go to YubaNet, they tell me the location of the fire, but then the website crashes from too many inquiries.
My friend's son died in a fire control aircraft, so I don't say this lightly. "I want my own drone camera. I have no information source to advize me on evacuation, and there are thousands just like me. CalFire is just plain stupid on this topic. I have spoken to too many fire fighter to believe that the situation will improve.
Bill, try these sources if you haven't - worked for me in SoCal when trying to get real time info on fires.
Twitter- yes, lots of baloney including reporters from the established stations pushing links to their own station, but at least early on, people on the ground share photos and updated on where the fire is- to help out neighbors.
AM Radio, depending on how local, the talk show jockeys will often solicit and take calls from locals giving the same updates.
Local newspapers that have an online site, where locals have been commenting in forums. In the 2008 Pine Fire in SD, this was the most useful, even after the County staffed its fancy new Emergency Center, that took 8 hours to get rolling, and most of the updates were wasted on too many politicians claiming the microphone to pat themselves on the back, rather than update the fire map info...
Good luck! As usual, the best way is own eyes but be prepared with a back way out- you know fire goes uphill fastest of all, and you cant out-run it.
Living anywhere in the hills of California you need to always remember fire and be prepared for it. Metal or tile roofs, a wide cleared area (fire break) around your house, and hoses at the ready. If you really want to be safe, a D-4 Cat to make major fire breaks as needed.
I knew a fellow who lived for many years in the Malibu hills. Fires were a regular occurrence all around him. Wet winters (lots of vegetation), dry summers (lots of fuel), and careless people or lightning meant fire. His house had no wood on the exterior. Brick, tile, and metal - all non-flammables. No shrubbery near the house. And his trusty D-4, always with plenty of gas, with which he made fire break. Many fire years and his house was never touched. Some of his less prepared neighbors weren't so lucky.
During the Rat Creek fire near Leavenworth, WA in 1994, we were under evacuation alert for two weeks. The local talk radio station in Wenatchee (AM 570 as I recall) did yeoman work in keeping people informed about the fire and evacuation notices. We were lucky. After three days, the winds died down and the fire crawled rather than raced toward our house. After two weeks we got a day of rain followed by several days of cooler weather. That allowed the dire fighters to get the fire under control. It finally went out when the first snows came in November.