Grateful but aware

The house is quiet now.  My brother and sister-in-law have taken their kids down the hill to get gas and take a break.  The MoH and the RT have taken Big for a ride — her favorite thing.  Someone made the mistake of saying “ride” and she heard it.  Prancing and hip-hopping ensued.  Bizarre dog. 

If there’s anything more strange than sitting in my house (which is used to having only three people in it) with five more, and sitting in one room staring at a television with relentless coverage of fires that refuse to stop, I’m not sure what is.  To break the hypnotic focus on the television, small diversions have occurred — most of which have been due to the antics of my four-year-old nephew.  Who knew an ace bandage could be so entertaining, and that Big wouldn’t like being wrapped in one.  Thank goodness for the RT’s old books and three trunks full of Legos.

We switch from channel to channel looking for something new and on each one, a continuous tape runs across the bottom of the screen with information about specific streets and series of addresses of homes that have been burned.  There are so many.  Currently, 346,000 homes have been ordered evacuated from Fallbrook in the north, to East Lake in the extreme south east. 

The reporters have begun to respond to emails the stations are receiving about whether homes have been lost, and they’re taking the time to announce what information they have. At least then, people can call their insurance companies to get their recovery process going.  I can’t imagine… 

The most surreal scene I’ve seen is a massive condominium complex on fire.  Some units on the edges were in flames, and on the opposite side of the development, SDG&E had a crew frantically digging down to shut off the main gas line into the complex.  I’m not sure how it all ended because things change and the coverage shifts.

When you look at the line of fire in the south east that has traveled at an amazing rate up over San Miguel mountain, I suppose someone not involved would look at it and think, “How could that fire do any harm to anyone?”  It looks so harmless, and it’s only burning brush.  But what makes San Diego so unusual is the number of canyons that characterize the topography.  Very little of it is flat — even near the beach.  Fires are often set by arsonists during Santa Anas.  Four years ago, the massive fire was set accidentally by a man who was out hunting and became lost, so set off a flare.  This time, downed power lines caused by the high winds are to blame.

Regardless, a fire is a fire, and I think we are all lulled into a sense of security because we’re in our homes, but the recent years have shown that the fires are erratic, and that the firemen cannot possibly prevent them from destroying structures.  As it is, most of the severe injuries currently are to fire fighters.

Yesterday when we knew this wouldn’t be over anytime soon (the current prediction for 100% containment of one of the fires is November 4…) my sister-in-law and I got in the car to go to the grocery store.  What a zoo.  No parking.  People swirling around in the lot.  Grouchy people honking horns at those waiting for a spot.  Goodness.  I do think it’s a good time to think about others and take a deep breath that in this area because we’re not at risk.  But not too deep a breath.

The ash from these fires is finer than sand and rusty brown in color.  I can imagine that it isn’t too great to breathe it.  It’s everywhere, dulling everything with a kind of sepia effect. The last time, fat ashes fell from the sky, floating softly to the ground to collect against our house. 

The winds have died enough to allow helicopters to collect water from the reservoirs and begin dousing flames, but only in some areas.  It’s so dry, but the humidity has climbed into double digits today.  Thankfully.  But the air quality is supposed to worsen as the week proceeds until the Santa Ana breaks up.  My nose feels like it has rocks stuffed in it. 

But my family is safe.  Wheezing, and parched, but safe.

If you’re interested, this is a local site that has a live video feed.





8 responses to “Grateful but aware”

  1. Ritzy

    Geez… I can not even imagine.
    Thinking of you.

  2. Glad to hear you are safe – we are too but can see the fire at Foot Hill Ranch all to clearly. It is surreal and driving to LA has been interesting enough – San Diego will wait. You are in my thoughts…


    this is so scary.

  4. Hi Ritzy…We’re just fine. Laughing with family and getting a bit misty-eyed at all the people who are seeing that their houses are gone. And they’re smiling as they cry. I can’t stand it.

    Beth, thanks. I saw the photos on your site and they are ominously familiar. No walking the dog in this nasty air. It will make you sick for sure.

    Hey meleah…not to worry about us…but I’m sure all of the people who are out of their homes wondering if their homes are burned could use positive thoughts. It’s so sad.

  5. I’ve been thinking about you as I was watching the news. Landslides and fires….CA is too dangerous! Come South….oh, wait.

    Seriously, stay safe.

  6. Fuh-nee, Chick. But wait. You forgot about earthquakes…And I used to live in South Carolina when I was little. And Florida. I remember what they looked like, and some experiences, but that’s about it. We’re more than safe. Just completely stir crazy at this point.

  7. I can’t imagine. I’m glad your safe and hope your breathing does not suffer too much. keep us informed.

    November 4th?


  8. Hey Cooper. We’re just fine. It is a bit strange having to stay inside for a reason other than the one I usually use — L.A.Z.Y. slackstressness. The air quality is deplorable.

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