Friday, August 26, 2005

Safe - Thanks LA County Fire

Well..... a little excitement this afternoon as I noted in an earlier post. I needed to go to class, but I didn't want to leave until I was sure the fire wasn't going to come over that ridge. Though it is a fair walk to the base of the ridge, it isn't very far for wind. We've had experience with burning embers traveling ten to twenty miles or more in some conditions. This was much closer.

Helicopters and hand crews were at work immediately, but the terrain is rugged and the wind was blowing in our direction. There were two water dropping helicopters on the fire at all times when I was watching and driving (four total according to news reports). Hand crews were in all the tiny canyons and up the sides of the "hills". I wish traffic had stopped when I drove by the best view of the hand crews.. but it didn't.

Water dropping helicopters
Best shot of helicopters- through the window of the car. (click any of these photos for a larger view).

Only a tiny part of the fire area.

A slice of the terrain with some barely visible new spots starting to smoulder..

Those helicopters are definitely worth the cost. The firefighters kept the blaze from growing too large-- 25 acres is what I heard last- not much at all in the bigger picture view. The firefighters were still on scene this evening, mopping up the last of it- by hand.

The LA Times (registration required) is reporting 100 firefighters were on scene to knock down the blaze. Those trucks were parked three and four across for more than half a mile.

In discussing this later with the husband, I realized I have never thought about what I would grab in a fire evacuation other than my cat. We've lived up here for twenty-two years and been watchful, even wary at times (standing outside with burning embers coming down from a fire twenty miles away, for instance), but never had a fire get close enough to think about leaving.

Our immediate area is surrounded more by dwellings and well watered landscaping, than wild (and now very dry) vegetation. But after today and eyeing those ridges-- and even though this event wasn't a big deal -- I'm thinking we ought to have a plan for fires, just like we do for earthquakes.

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