Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Fires Still Burn. . .

I wasn't going to write more about the fires here in southern California than I did yesterday. But, while the fires do not threaten our community, it turns out that family and friends are affected.

When I went outside this morning for my morning walk, the odor was much stronger than yesterday. I ventured to a spot in Palos Verdes Estates, about a 20 minute walk from home, where I thought I might be able to get some pictures of the Malibu fires across Santa Monica Bay. I offer 2 shots which, while not nearly as dramatic as we have seen on TV, give a sense of something amiss at a distance.

The first offers a view that shows part of the peninsula below me. I was standing in sunlight and out across the water you can see the land (which would be clearly visible when Santa Ana winds are blowing) as a shadow rising from the water with 3 layers above it representing smoke, haze and sky.

For the 2nd, I zoomed the camera in on the land around Malibu. By zooming in, you simply see land encased in smoke and haze as a result of the fires. The picture was taken at 11:30 a.m.; it looks more like dusk.

As to the family ties, after I wrote yesterday we learned that cousins in Ranch Bernardo, were among the 250,000+ (that is not a typo) who had been evacuated. While we are certain that they are okay, we don't yet know if their homes fell victim to the flames. Then, late this afternoon it was reported that Rancho San Diego, where my in-laws live in an assisted-living community, might be evacuated. WE were able to find out that chartered buses were on call to take them to Qualcomm Stadium if it was necessary. They were preparing a few things to take with them if they had to leave. Then, just before I started writing this we heard that it was not likely that they would have to be evacuate and, ironically, a community college near them was being added as a site to which evacuees could go for support.

This is not the first time that fires have claimed lives and property in southern California and it won't be the last. It may be the worst conflagration in the nearly 26 years I have lived here followed closely by the fires 4 years ago. When there has been as little rain as we have had in the past 18 months, you know there will be fires but people are never really prepared for the reality. Yes, we are lucky to not be physically affected this time, but I feel like I am on a bit of an emotional roller coaster with my thoughts of the hundreds of thousands of people, related or not, whose lives have taken such an unexpected turn as a result of the fires.

It appears also that the winds are beginning to slacken. Hopefully, they will turn on shore and bring moisture (humidity has been in the 5-10% range) so that the firefighters can begin to gain the upper hand. Without their heroic work, it would be even worse than it is.

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