Shifting Winds

This week has been a challenging one for me. Monday morning, I received a text message that there was a new wildfire near my home, The Silverado Fire, and to be on alert. So throughout the morning, I kept working with one eye on the reports and maps showing the fire’s progress. The wind was roaring Monday in gusts up to 60MPH. It’s a local condition we call the Santa Ana Winds, but the good news was the Santa Ana’s were blowing the fire away from my house.

Unfortunately, shifting winds are not always just a metaphor. Sometimes shifting winds just mean shifting winds. And at about 3 pm Monday, the winds shifted, and fire came roaring toward my sleepy little community of Foothill Ranch. The emergency text message arrived shortly later that we were under a mandatory evacuation order. The fire hadn’t arrived yet, but it was on the way. So all of my podcasts and blog posts about backups paid off. We packed up a few valuables, pictures, and hard drives and took off. I can tell you that the experience of evacuating your neighborhood while everyone else is also evacuating your neighborhood is pretty surreal. Everyone is packing their cars, smiling and acting like they aren’t worried while they are, in truth, all a little terrified. The smoke and ash were already blowing in, and police cars were driving up and down the street, blasting warnings to evacuate. Everybody was a bit on edge.

We stayed with family Monday night and watched some scary news coverage. I live in a tract of homes in the foothills. They were built with fires in mind. Our roofs are fire-resistant. We keep the brush cleared around our little community’s perimeter like some sort of ancient fire moat. The California firefighters are pros and understand wildfires. There isn’t a lot they can do when it is burning through open land. However, when it gets near homes, they have a tremendous arsenal of fire fighting tools. So the fire burned around the perimeter of our community Monday night. The park where I take my dog caught on fire, and to the extent a park can burn down, it burned down. However, no homes were lost. All was good.

We returned home yesterday only to find more shifting winds and more evacuation orders. We had another long night last night, but again, no homes were lost while the Silverado fire continues to linger in the neighborhood. We are once again with family, hoping we can get back home today. My family and home are safe, and the fire is very unlikely to pick my little tract home as the one it takes out.

We are very fortunate, and California firefighters are very good. Everyone in my community is safe. None of the houses in my community were lost. I can’t help but feel that if this fire’s siege of my community hasn’t broken through in two days, it’s not going to break through. The mandatory evacuation order is still in place, but we’re hoping it gets lifted later today. I just want to get back home, take a nap, and resume something close to normal life. Thanks for all the kind tweets and emails. I haven’t responded to many of them, but I appreciate them all.