Monday, October 22, 2007

California Wildfires

My heart aches for the people in Southern California right now. There are over 13 wildfires raging behind winds measured up to 103 miles per hour, measured at Pt. Mugu, where John used to work. Over 98,000 acres have been destroyed or damaged so far, and around 4,900 firefighters are fighting the fires throughout six counties, with over a quarter of a million people having been evacuated today. Winds are not expected to die down for another two days. Schools are closed down, being used for shelters.

Mom and some friends in our old town have ash in their homes from the Malibu blaze, and say the skies are a bloody orange color, with the smoke a scary smell that you can't escape, a constant reminder that if the wind shifts, it might be your turn to leave your home behind and head for a shelter. It's been four years since the brush has burned. Fire season. And the pitiful fact is, they've only averaged three inches of rain all year, according to tonight's news.

Along with the feelings of a lucky escape to Colorado is a feeling of helplessness, that many of those I love may need help that I'm no longer close enough to offer. My sister and her husband had just driven to Reno on Saturday, and can't get information on their home, back in one of the canyons, being endangered by the Stevenson Ranch fire, which is approaching the back side of their canyon. Do they catch a plane home? If they do, will they be allowed back in their area? No one can answer their questions. The situation is changing too rapidly.

Those of us who no longer search the skies for the ominous dark clouds when the Santa Ana winds blow feel fortunate, if somewhat guilty, as we watch CNN for the latest developments. We just sit tight, and we pray.

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