Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fires in San Diego County

This morning brings air that has cleared up significantly. Early Monday morning we awoke about 2:00AM because the air was laden with smoke and ash. Our cat freaked out and started crying. We quickly closed all windows to keep out the bad air from the fire raging 20 miles east of us.

The next morning we watched the news to determine the extent of the fire. We stepped outside. The hot, dry Santa Ana winds were still blowing hard (30-40 miles per hour) and the air was very dry (less than ten percent humidity). Ash fell from the sky. Although we were still quite far from any fire, the high winds made it impossible to predict the exact path of the fire, as well as how long we would be safe. This picture was taken on Monday afternoon. The sun appeared like an orange ball high in the sky; the lighting was eerie and strange.Smoke-veiled afternoon sun in Leucadia from San Diego's Witch FireBy noon, our area was designated as advisory. We decided to pack our irreplaceable possessions and put everything by the front door. The news helped us organize. We packed a few clean clothes and toiletries, wallet, credit cards, driver’s license, passports, paper work with utility bill showing our address, insurance information, and important work-related information. We grabbed photo albums and negative boxes (there were many), camera, sunglasses, hat, flashlight, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, water and water bottles, day pack, laptop, and guitars. We retrieved the cat’s kennel as well as her food (oh, she is going to hate this!). We piled everything by the front door. We figured we could be ready to vacate in 20 minutes or so. If things worsened, we would start packing the cars. We went out and put gas in both cars—so we could drive far without having to find gas.

We called several friends: How are you? Are you okay? What’s your status? If you need to evacuate you can come here . . . or, if we need to evacuate we’ll come to your house. It turns out that we had friends who evacuated to our house on Monday night. We had 8 people, 2 dogs, and 2 cats. The next day, we watched the news. It was difficult getting accurate information. Some areas were cleared to return; others were more tenuous. No one wanted to go home, only to leave again.

We had a big dinner Tuesday night and reminisced about college days, since we all were friends from college. I’m really glad my friends came over. It’s much easier to go through the uneasiness with other people. You don’t want to be by yourself.

All of our homes are safe. We are the lucky ones. Over half a million people were evacuated and 1500 homes were lost.

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