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California wildfires - first hand

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California wildfires - first hand

Old 10-23-2007, 03:54 AM
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Default California wildfires - first hand

Our home is about 4-miles SE of the eastern perimeter line of the Santiago Canyon fire (most reporters are planted in Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills if you catch it on the news).

I've been camped out at the house since yesterday morning, prepping for evac, keeping an eye on things etc. Ran some errands down in Lake Forest yesterday, including a run to Sheila's office (we had decided that she would go to work and I would sit tight). Smoke there (west of the fire) was very dense with some ash as well.

Sheila wrote the following not to our relatives:

As of one AM we are still in place in our home. We received a reverse 911 call a little after 6 this evening advising that evacuation was not necessary but to be prepared to go. Rich had stayed home today and he and Ryan had packed up our necessities and our treasures. Rich also helped our neighbor, Sue, hitch up her livestock trailer. She has removed her miniature horse and burro, but she, the dogs, cats, rabbits and chickens are still at home. Our fine neighbor Jim, who is not a man to take foolish chances, has not yet removed his horses, though he's hitched up the trailer and staged it next to the corral. His horses are a bit nervous and I hear them now and then.

So. The trucks are full of our stuff--at least the stuff we would take with us. Our clothing, family photographs, documents, the computer tower, a few bits of wedding memorabilia, the flag that draped Sean's casket, my Buddha. We've packed the dog food. The flashlight has fresh batteries. Rich is napping on the couch right now and I am on watch. Ryan sleeps upstairs in his room.

Standing fire watch is quite different than serving as lookout on the boat. On the boat I am always attuned to the whole 360 degrees around us. Here, I am fixed on the color of the sky above the ridge northwest of us. That's where the fire burns, about four miles off. I've darkened the northwest side of the house so that I'm judging the color of the sky unhampered by light pollution. The glow is very dim--less than a halfhearted sunset, late in the afternoon. Should it brighten, then we go. Waiting until we can see flames on the ridge is too late, we've agreed.

The wind is capricious. At the moment it is dead calm. It will pick up again soon enough, either a long, slow rustle that I hear long before I feel it or see our trees moving, or one of the gusts that come up regularly, blowing to about 30 miles per hour. We lost a large limb of one of the eucalyptus earlier today. If I am out on the deck when the wind comes up, I hug the side of the house to protect myself should another branch let go and come my way. The moon is bright; it would be a lovely evening out if the smell of smoke weren't so strong. When the wind blows, the chimes that Mom and Dad gave us as a wedding gift sing beautifully.

Silverado Canyon, where Rich's sister Susan and her family live, is now under voluntary evacuation. Susan and Jillian have left the home; Anthony, last we heard, was staying. Cell phones don't work in their canyon and their house phone rings once, then goes dead. Anthony is a wise man, so we are trying not to worry.

We sat down in the midst of preparations and ate a real dinner tonight. I had "cooked big" yesterday for the week ahead, so we had roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, sauteed zucchini, and dinner rolls I'd baked yesterday. Ryan asked us what our plans are if the house burns down. Rich and I shrugged. "We call the insurance agent," Rich told him. Then he explained that we would probably have to stay in a hotel for a bit, then in a rental while our home is rebuilt. I'm not sure if that was the kind of answer Ryan sought, but he asked no further questions.

A moment ago I went out on the deck to watch the sky some more and I saw a coyote trot down the road behind our property. I've often heard them, but I'd not seen one in our neighborhood before. Since I'm usually asleep at this hour, I have no way to know whether he's a regular visitor or if he's been chased down from the hills by the fire.

We have been following the web postings at the Orange County Fire Authority. They report 30 percent containment, no control, over 15,000 acres burned. It is a strange feeling to read the names of the roads listed as closed roads, as they are nearby and familiar. The link is here: http://www.ocfa.org/pages/ocfa.asp?filename=canyonfire.

That's our news for now. We feel safe and secure and are paying close mind to the situation. We're praying for those around us who are in greater danger and for the courageous firefighters who are working through the night to protect us.

----end of Sheila's note-----

My parents who live in Carlsbad are under mandatory evac and have relocated to my other sisters house on Camp Pendelton. Residents of the housing there have been advised that while no evac order is pending, they may want to go ahead and pack and be ready to go if need be. The biggest problem they face right now is smoke, which is particularly bad for my dad because he suffers from COPD.

The wind has picked up considerably again. If it blows to the west we should be in good shape. If it turns south or southwest, we'll likely have to bug out pretty quickly.
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:08 AM
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Default Re: California wildfires - first hand

Good luck to you all...the whole country is watching and hoping this ends soon.
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:12 AM
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Default Re: California wildfires - first hand

Thanks. I guess that was a bad link I sent, try:

http://www.ocfa.org/ocfamain.asp?pgn1=3

and

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister...s/firecentral/
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:49 AM
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Default Re: California wildfires - first hand

Well, that calls for a little Kenny Rogers...

(CHORUS)

Can you feel it baby
Can you feel it, here it comes
Feel it, Feel it
Fire, Fire
Something's burning
Something's burning
Something's burning
And I think it's love.





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Old 10-23-2007, 05:24 AM
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Default RE: California wildfires - first hand

Glad you're taking the necessary precautions. God speed to you and all of your neighbors. Wildfire is an awsome,yet terrifying thing. We are all pulling for you folks.
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Old 10-23-2007, 05:50 AM
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Dang man. That's terrible. I hope your home is spared. I've never thought about my home burning from a brush fire. It must be grinding to just to have to watch and wait. I hope you have favorable winds. Dave.
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Old 10-23-2007, 05:52 AM
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Default Re: California wildfires - first hand

My wife's sister and family bugged out of Poway the other day. Scary stuff...

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Old 10-23-2007, 06:27 AM
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Default Re: California wildfires - first hand

rich...having lived in the mountains back behind santa barbara for a few years i know there is little more terrifying than an out of control forest fire and a strong hot wind...........i sincerely hope the best for you and your family.....good luck!!
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Old 10-23-2007, 08:47 AM
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Take care and be safe !

Keep us posted !
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:16 AM
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Default Re: California wildfires - first hand

As of right now, I am at work, Ryan is at the first day of his new job, Rich is dropping the dog off with friends in a safe place and then he's off to work. We have all our stuff in our trucks. We're essentially evacuated. Rich said the smoke was getting thicker as he was leaving....that it would have been time to get out of there in any event. At the moment the fire is north of us and burning north....but the winds are shifting all the time.

We're hopeful that by tonight the danger will have passed and that we can go home and unpack.

Thanks, everyone, for your kind wishes and prayers.
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:24 AM
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Godspeed Shelia and FearNaut-- Keep us posted-- Wishing you all the best.
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:37 AM
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Wow, it's getting worse. I just heard a report wherein the Fire Marshall in SD County said essentially there's nothing they can do. He said the fire would burn to teh ocean unless the wind shifts/lays down. Nasty...

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Old 10-23-2007, 10:21 AM
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That a bad fire...Came across this link in a google search

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nat...,1023489.story

By late yesterday, Southern California fires had burned more than 269,000 acres - roughly 420 square miles - and destroyed hundreds of buildings. No precise tally was available because officials could not get close to many of the burned areas. Remarkably, only one person was known to have died, although it was possible that more fatalities would be discovered. At least 32 people had been injured, including nine firefighters.
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Old 10-23-2007, 12:40 PM
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Rich and Sheila,
Our thoughts are with you! I have been through the fear of an out of control brush fire and it is not fun! Had one within a hundred feet of my house in Florida. I hope this is over soon for you and for the better.

Is it me or is California sort of like Gods Stomping Grounds? I mean if it's not the brush/forest fires, it's the rain and mudslides. If it's not the mudslides, it's the earthquakes. If it's not the earthquakes, it's some dumbass celebrity.
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Old 10-23-2007, 12:53 PM
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Good Luck
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:43 PM
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Prayers are with you. Glad you have each other and are playing it safe. Sheila (the other one)
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:52 PM
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Good luck and be safe. My wife's uncle lost his home yesterday. I have not spoken with him but they thought all was safe and before they knew what was happening their home was going up in flames. Its sad they lost everything but they are both OK. So keep an open eye those things can change quickly.
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Old 10-23-2007, 02:39 PM
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Best of luck FN.
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Old 10-23-2007, 03:29 PM
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FearNaut, I've read your thread and it leaves a strong impact. I can only imagine what you and your family are going through right now. Best of LUCK.
You got me to thinking about something I've wondered about for some time. Being from South Florida and living in a community , out of control fires really are not a concern for us. We only get crafty at preparing our homes for hurricanes. I was thinking though about a way to protect homes in the line of fire and wondered if you thought it would work. Kinda along the lines of the old sprinkler on the roof trick. Would a home survive with a metal roof, and stucco eves, if a sprinkler system were left on and set in such a way as to soak the entire home? Maybe running off an LP home generator type system which didn't require electricity, since I'm guessing the electric would be cut off as the fire approaches. anyway, I hope the thing turns the other way for you and your neighbors. Again, best wishes.
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Old 10-23-2007, 06:06 PM
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Thanks for your thoughts and prayers, everyone.

We're in a hotel for the night. The road to our house was closed this afternoon. No way in. Mandatory evacuation orders in place.
We took everything we really care about when we left this morning. Beyond that, stuff is stuff....we'll just have to wait and see.

Friends have offered to put us up and we may accept those offers if this wears on or we lose our home. But tonight we're exhausted from last night's preparation and watchstanding and just want to focus on a good night's sleep. We'll reassess in the morning and see where we are then.

If you're prayerful, please say a word for our firefighters. They have got their hands full.

PS: Gagme....those preparations would help. Our home has enclosed eaves, but not a steel roof. The steel roof takes longer to burn through than a composition roof. Shake is out of the question out here.
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