Did you enjoy my post last week on the damage that an innocent card reader can do? Are you ready for more stories?
The planned post for today was a rant similar story about printers but we have been visited by a “Wildland Fire”. That is our fire’s official classification. With the fire being at the top of my concern list this past week, you get a story about a wildfire instead of a story about printers today.
The fire started last Tuesday so this is the eighth day it has invaded my life. I live in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California so fires are a fact of life during the summer. In the fifteen years I’ve lived here there have been closer fires and longer lasting fires. But never a fire so close (three to four miles away) that lasted so long. Our firefighters do a wonderful job. But still there were scary moments.
Our TV news does a good job of reporting the start of a fire and, as usual, that was how I found out about the Trailhead Fire. The report put it close enough that I immediately hooked up my horse trailer to the truck in case we had to evacuate. While I was doing this a neighbor drove by. He’d seen the fire from the end of the road and was going home to pack for an evacuation.
Usually I have an evacuation duffle bag ready to go but this was the first fire of the season so I had to go into the house and pack one. While I was inside two friends called to say “You can come here if you have to evacuate.” Nice to have friends.
After packing, I went back outside to finish getting the horse trailer ready. And another neighbor drove by. He’d been to see the fire and wasn’t as worried as my first neighbor had been. And yes, in the country, people do just stop and tell you things like this.
So I loaded the dogs into the car and drove to the end of the road to see the fire for myself. It seemed like half the neighborhood was there. There was one person who was sure that the flames would cross the trees and open land between us and the fire any moment. Most people, including me, were a little less worried. The fire seemed to be moving to the east and not to the south where we were. By the time I got home Yubanet, our local fire reporting site, had started listing areas that were being evacuated and we were nowhere near those areas. Still, when I went to bed Tuesday night, I was prepared for a phone call in the middle of the night telling me to leave my house because the fire was approaching.
I was allowed to sleep through the night but the next morning it was obvious that the fire was still around as the smoke was thick. Reports from Yubanet let me know that the fire had grown significantly but was still moving away from my area. And that became the pattern. Concern at night that the fire would change direction and move towards me, smoke in the morning and periodic checks of Yubanet and Twitter to stay informed about the fire. The fire area continued to grow. It was only 150 acres when I went to bed last Tuesday night and this morning it was over 5500 acres. But it is now 50% contained.
Yesterday morning was the worst time. There is a lake about half a mile from my house that the helicopters use to fill their water buckets to drop on the fire. They were actively using the lake on Saturday and I was one of many people at the lake taking pictures of the helicopters in action. Then yesterday, there were many more helicopters using the lake and they were flying very low when they passed over my house. Lots of water was obviously needed somewhere close. The picture of the helicopter at the top of this post was taken with my cell phone camera from my deck.
I made a trip to the end of the road to see what was happening. The fire was closer than it had been. And there was nothing on Yubanet or Twitter about fire movement in that area. Fortunately I live in the country and the local fire department answers its phone. The fireman I spoke to told me that they were doing a planned controlled burn as part of the firefighting operations and that all was going according to plan. He didn’t say not to worry but the helicopters stopped flying about an hour after my call and eventually Yubanet included information about the controlled burn.
So this morning it is still smoky but there are no helicopters around. All the evacuations have been changed from mandatory to voluntary and they are all still far away from me. [Update: all the evacuation orders have now been cancelled.] The estimated containment date has been moved one day earlier. Our wonderful firefighters are getting the fire under control. Again a fire has come and gone without damage to my home.
So why do I live here? It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place to live. And my horse can live in the barn in my pasture instead of at a boarding stable.
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