Where There’s Smoke …

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On Monday night, what is now called the Creek Fire started up in a location less than five miles from my house.  Since that time, nearly 12,000 acres of land has burned and damaged or destroyed dozens of homes.  The mandatory evacuation outline, which includes nearly 100,000 people, ends just a few blocks away from my house.  Intermittently over the course of the last few days, major freeways, roads, and streets were closed or blocked off to keep people safe.

And I can’t even see the smoke.

I mean, when the La Tuna fire blazed, I could see the orange glow every night, not to mention the constant stream of tanker planes working that fire.  But this one, no orange glow, no tanker planes, and not even smoke.

Don’t get me wrong, this fire was, and still kinda is, a threat to where I live.  The Santa Ana winds that were predicted for this week are expected to really blow hard this afternoon.  As a strange situation of the Santa Anas, what I expected to be downwind from the fire ended up to be upwind.  So while the gusts got well up to the 40mph range, the fires went the other direction … as well as most the smoke (like only when the winds slow did my allergies and burning throat really take off).  I also am sweating out friends and colleagues that are much more in a dangerous path than I am – some just over the ridge from where the fire still burns.

In all honesty, though, the Creek Fire is one of four fires in this area that garnered attention.  The Creek Fire got attention mostly because it created this massive plume of smoke over the San Fernando Valley and shut down freeways all over Northern Los Angeles County.  The Rye Fire, maybe the forgotten child of the four, near Santa Clarita started first and cause a fair bit of concern to large swaths of homes, as well as the famed Magic Mountain theme park … cause … kids.  The most stunning pictures and devastation is coming from the Thomas Fire up in Ventura.  It’s ravished nearly 100,000 acres, nearly 3/4 of the total acreage burned in SoCal this week, and as yet it is still uncontained.  The fourth fire received a ton of attention – the Skirball fire – which started along the I-405 at Sepulvada Pass and is now threatening Bel Aire and Bretwood estates, already damaging property owned by celebrities.

Besides the Santa Ana Winds that I blogged about earlier this week, many of these fires are the result of a weird year for this area.  Most of last winter and spring was wet, bringing forth a ton of new vegetation; of which most of it dried considerably in a hot summer and fall.  Fires for the most part are a fact of life in the hills around Southern California, plants grow, plants die, and they need to burn off to allow new plants to grow.  This year just seems to be particularly brutal.

While I don’t want to under emphasize the danger, nor the problems caused by those who are losing their property in all this fire … I want to make sure that for those of you paying attention to all the pictures and videos and cries of those in pain … I’m not one of them

I mean … I am kinda inconvenienced … but that’s it.

The air quality sucks.

I just put down grass seed on Tuesday, and I have to water it a heck of a lot more with how dry things are.

Plus people keep asking me if my house burned down yet.

Really the worst part about the fires for me is kind of a surreal, kind of an ironic one.  On Tuesday, when the Creek Fire looked it’s worse, they shut down the 210 Freeway near me, making getting home tough.  Some people stated that to go 3 miles on a major city street (Foothill Blvd) it could take as much as 2 hours to get there.  Sitting there at the house, taking stock on what I would need to do if I had to evacuate, I wasn’t sure what the right route to take – since the streets would be packed.  Thinking I could run out and grab a bit to eat, it hit me, there was no guarantee I could get back because of the traffic as well.  So there I was, home bound in a house in the path of a fire – and I wasn’t sure if I could get in or out of there.  It was, for lack of a better term, weird.

What we been told is that we are not out of the woods yet.  Winds kick up this afternoon, and will blow pretty well over the weekend.  Along the way, new fires are likely to start and some of these will go out.  I’m feeling pretty safe about it, but then again, I can make a laundry list of times when I felt safe and … wasn’t.

So we’ll see,

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