Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, October 26, 2007

These Nerve-Rattling Wildfires

Here's an email I sent out earlier today:
Friends and family:

It’s been a worrying several days as we’ve watched the Santiago Canyon fire spread, threatening neighborhoods and burning down homes in areas just five or ten from our home. The last few days have been a God-send, with the winds dying down and the humidity inching up to about 14%.

The danger is still real, however. Were the winds to pick up and blow in our direction, the threat would increase dramatically. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that every house that has been lost has been older or remote and surrounded by trees – no new subdivision homes have burned because of our more fire-proof construction and the modifications they make to vegetation around the edges to give the firefighters more opportunity to knock down the fires.

Please look at this map of the Santiago Canyon fire. If you look at the bottom right, you’ll see a little triangle formed by two green lines coming up from the bottom – that’s the northern edge of our community, about 2.5 miles north of our home. You can see how each day the fire is spreading more and more in our general direction each day – but it’s still north and west of us, and the strong winds typically are east to west, not northeast to southwest, so that’s good … for us anyway.

Please keep us, the firefighters, the people at more risk, and the people who have lost homes in your prayers.
Here's a recent update from the Register:

The fire was making some moves toward the south – and communities such as Rancho Santa Margarita and Coto de Caza. Firefighters were hoping to turn it back before then, and were holding a line along Ortega Highway.

The hellish Santa Ana winds that drove the fire earlier in the week had gone slack, but the flames were still moving fast as they devoured the forest and swept uphill. A crew of firefighters was forced into retreat overnight after the fire made a sudden rush up the mountain slope.

Not wanting to get trapped by the flames with only an uphill escape route, the firefighters pulled back around 6 p.m. They returned several hours later, after the fire had calmed down.

“It’s really dangerous to be uphill on a fire, trying to fight it,” said Ken Frederick, a spokesman at the National Interagency Fire Center and a 13-year firefighter. “You just don’t want that fire below you.”

Those fire fighters are just amazing! God bless 'em!

Here's a hot on-the-Internet update from the LA Times about Silverado Canyon, one of the rare funky areas in OC, where narrow lanes wind along creeks and slopes are lined with rustic homes:

The Santiago fire raged this afternoon on Pine Canyon Ridge, with authorities estimating that the blaze was less than an hour from reaching Silverado Canyon. Firefighters scrambled to coat homes in the far reaches of the five-mile canyon with fire-resistant white gel and evacuate dozens of residents as thick plumes of smoke billowed into the sky.

Authorities are no longer allowing residents, media or even some firefighters to go more than three miles into the canyon. Nearby, a sign outside a community center reads, "God please save our canyon."
It looks like a good chance that there's going to be more heartbreak before this is over.

Photo: Bruce Chambers, OC Register

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