22 October 2007

I Feel My Temperature Risin' (The OC Fire)

On Sunday night around 6:00 pm, the Santiago Canyon fire began. So far 15,000 acres have burned and authorities believe it was deliberately set. Here is a map charting the fire's progress.

The Santa Ana winds howled most of the night. On the drive into work, the sky was a strange color of grey and quite hazy. The office was unusually quiet as everyone assessed the damage. Seven counties were burning - including ours.

As the morning wore on, the smell of smoke grew stronger. At lunchtime, people dashed home to load valuables into their cars. Fortunately I live about 12 miles south of the blaze. Barry, however, lives only a few miles away.

Barry left home around 5:00 on a Sunday afternoon to run some errands. A few hours later he headed home only to find the main road barricaded by fire crews. Luckily, Barry was able to talk his way back in this morning. He shot the photos you see here.

When I first moved to Orange County, someone told me, "Instead of having the standard four seasons, California only has two: summer and fire.

This is the first significant fire since we've been here, but it's off to an ugly start. Down in San Diego, there are so many evacuees they've chosen QualComm Stadium (similar to the Rose Garden) to house everyone.Here's a link to a Google / LA Times map of all the fires.

For better or worse, the Orange County fire, though significant, is not the worst one out there. With fires blazing in all the surrounding counties, it also means the OC fire crews are on their own. The worst problem seems to be citizens who refuse to leave their homes. People insist they can defend their homes with a garden hose and refuse to pack up their valuables and evacuate voluntarily. So firefighters have to waste time convincing the homeowner to evacuate when they should be relieving someone who is hot and tired on the front lines.

That said, the fires in San Diego are so bad, there aren't enough firefighters to defend every neighborhood being threatened. Some folks have been told, "hose down your roof and get the heck out of there."

As I write this, the winds continue to blow. Last night we had a gust so hard it shook the apartment building.

The Santa Ana winds are strange though - different than those nasty east winds we get coming through the Gorge. With the Santa Anas there will be long stretches where it's completely still and then fwooosh a massive gust. Yet, sometimes it will blow like crazy for eight or nine hours and you think twice about going outside for fear of getting blown away to Kansas.

We'll see what the morning will bring. Keep your fingers crossed for Barry and Heidi out there in Modjeska Canyon.

The police came by Barry's place and began voluntary evacuations. They are headed to Aunt Cindy's in Lake Forest.

1 comment:

smartwick said...

Yikes! I've been thinking about you guys. Hope everyone is safe -- and thanks for the killer posts from Japan. :)