Fire Update

NOTE:  All of my photos here are from Saturday (June 23rd), the first day of the fire, when it was quite far away.

The hill behind my house (that hopefully protected it) gave us a good view of the progress - day 1. (click to see larger)My last article was left more suspenseful than it should have been, I suppose.  Tuesday was a very scary day because everything changed so quickly.  We had been living, literally, in the shadow of this fire since Saturday, and everyone had relaxed and started to believe it wouldn't get to us.

Things changed quickly, as I said before.  During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, the wind shifted and the fire flew out of control.  It crossed the two lines that were supposed to hold it, hopped over a ridge, and started hurtling down the side of the mountain towards a highly populated area.

A different angle of the original smoke plume - day 1. (click to see larger)They evacuated everyone as quickly as possible, and the firefighters went in to do battle with the flames.  Many homes were lost, but the majority were saved.  Now, it seems to have been pushed back from immediately endangering the town (I say immediately because it's still taunting us from the sides of the mountains).  Unfortunately, it seems to be making it's way towards smaller towns.

Average people and news crews all flocked to hills and ridges to get a view - day 1. (click to see larger)Here are some current statistics about what is going on:

  • 18,500 acres have burned or are burning
  • 346 homes have been lost (at least)
  • 32,000 people have been evacuated
  • 0 people have died
  • 10% of the fire is contained

There still isn't any direct news about our house.  Reports I've heard (mostly through word-of-mouth and Facebook) say that many areas very close have survived.  Also, a photographer went up in a plane yesterday and took pictures of the destruction.  My parents and I closely examined these (while comparing them to satellite images from map webistes) and saw they are not in our neighborhood - but not far.

As sad as I am to know that people's houses have burned, I'm happy to know that it's likely ours is still there (but still quite worried because of being unsure).

Now we are staying with friends north east of where we were before.  I just had to shut the window because I started smelling smoke.  The flames are moving north, and the wind is carrying the smell east (where we are at a safe distance).

I know these are very different than my normal light hearted posts about my travels, but it's something I want to let people know about.  I love to travel, but I never stop thinking about home.  Now, I traveled to my home, and it's at risk of disappearing.

The smoke is so thick that it blocks the sun (this was directly pointed at the sun) - day 1. In later days, the light coming through the smoke turned everything orange. (click to see larger)Thank you for all of the nice messages I've been recieving.  I'll do my best to keep you posted  on what's happening.

NEW UPDATE:  They just announced a meeting for tonight to break the news to people who have lost their homes.  They're only allowing people to attend who live on certain streets (presumably damaged areas).  Our street was not on the list, nor was any street that is immediately nearby.

Blurry, but this hopefully shows how hard it has been to sleep knowing the flames are always out there - night 1. (click to see larger)