November 3, 2007

Recent Fires

Although I wanted to write about this on a daily basis time has not allowed. I am lumping it all together into one great story. So if anyone watches the news or reads the paper you will know that there have been a bunch of different fires burning the west coast of California. I however had not been watching the news or reading the paper the day the fires started. I found out by going about my usual routine of driving to school at 6:30am Monday morning. It was dark as usual and very "cloudy" not something out of the norm seeing that I live on the water. Seeing the marine layer in the morning is a normal thing. As I was driving down the freeway and the color of the sky was a little weird and traffic was starting to slow.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Of course I am getting aggravated because it does not usually slow so much that early in the morning. Next thing I know I am smelling smoke..... Hmmm something must be on fire there must be an accident I am thinking. All of the sudden I am driving into bellowing smoke. The sky was yellow and you could barely see anything. It was like driving through a thick fog.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Holy crap! that has got to be more then a car on fire!
I look over to my right where all the smoke is coming from and I see the mountains on fire! You can not see the flames in the picture seeing I was driving but you should get the idea... Great way to start the day I am thinking. then I realize this fire is at the exit I would normally take to go to work..... Even better! I was then thinking Thank God I do not have to work today but hoping everyone was ok and trying to flip through all the stations to see what was going on. I must say I had no luck in figuring out anything until I got home from school and was able to use the web to check the local paper.

As you can probably tell I happen to be right in the middle of two very large fires. I was not in any immediate danger but everyone definitely has felt the effects of all the fires.
My work is a mere 4 miles away from the "canyon" fires. Lucky for me work did not close except for the first day of the fire. I mean this sarcastically of course. Every day was a challenge getting through work. See I work in a very closed in space with no windows in the area I work in. What windows we do have we are unable to open. With the fire that is a good thing but unfortunately the smoke would blow into the building and have no way to escape. This is a shot standing outside of my work... Chunks of ash were falling. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I spent most of the days with the sleeve of my shirt over my nose and mouth so I could somewhat breathe. I work on phones all day so doing this was a challenge to say the least. Many of us in the office spent the days feeling nausea, scratchy burning throat and our nose burning. I even was blessed with the occasional mild bloody nose. Oh what fun and to think this fire was set on purpose!!!
I took a few pictures mostly while driving. As much as I wanted to get closer to get the good pictures the smoke and smell was very unbearable for me. So you will just have to look at the few pictures I did get.
The morning drive looked pretty much the same every morning. thick smoke almost like driving through fog. The smell was horrible and there seemed to be no place to go to get relief from the smoke.
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By mid week the smoke and ash had spread across the county. My school is about 40 miles from the closest fire and while it did not smell as bad there mid week it sure looked bad. We did not have problems with the falling ash as much as where I live which was somewhat of a nice break. At that point i was taking anything I could get! As you can see from the picture even 40 miles away you could not forget the great intensity of this fire. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Now I live a few blocks from the water and you would think living here I would find some relief but you are very wrong. See we were only 14 miles from the fires in San Diego and about the same from the Fire here in our county. So that leaves us right in the middle so we were pretty much getting slammed by all the smoke and ash. I decided to stop at a point that overlooks the Harbor on Thursday the 5th day of the fire to see what it looked like. I think the picture is pretty self explanatory. You could not even see the water!! I felt like I was trapped in some kind of scary movie.
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After seeing that picture imagine what our place looked like... Although we had cooler weather conditions with a slight breeze then where the fire was it was not necessarily a good thing. This only led me to open the windows for a few to try to "air out" the house. In doing so I wound up with a place covered in ash! Everything was covered in ash. So now not only am I coming home from work smelling like I had been standing next to a bonfire all day my place is now covered in ash think enough to write in. At this point there seemed to be no escape and that this saga was never going to end.

Friday morning looked the same on he way into work. The smell of the fire was even worse in our building at work. Great way to end the week huh Well much to my surprise when I left Friday I was expecting the same old smokey ash filled air as I walked out at the end of the day. This is what I got instead....
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That is right sunshine and clouds! I was so surprised and happy! I could still see the mountains smoking but quickly learned that the fires had been contained 65% at that time. The entire way home I saw nothing but sunshine and puffy clouds! Such a huge turn around from that morning filled with ash and smoke. It was hard to even believe it was the same day and that we have had a fire burning for a week now. That was a huge breaking point. From then on I we have been able to open the windows at home and have been cleaning all of the ash off the furniture. Although my car still smells like smoke a bit and work is still suffering. There is still a layer of ash and is now smells like an old stale ash tray. It is a lot better then the previous weeks and much more tolerable. When you drive down the freeway you can still smell the fire but you can also smell the fertilizer used on the strawberry fields as well and that is a good sign!
So in the end I have survived the devastating fired of California unlike many others I am very lucky to have only had to complain about bad air quality instead of losing my home. They are still trying to find the person who started the fire in my area. People are finally being able to return to their homes or what is left of them. I just hope they catch the person who was behind all of this devastation.
Here are a few more pix I thought I would add.....
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The last one is a picture from my work. The smoke had gotten so thick you could not even see where the fires were coming from. All of these pictures were taken with my phone So I know some are a bit blurry.

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