Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Town Monday: On Fire

UPDATE AND CORRECTION, 6:15PM: The name of the Orange County fire is the Triangle Complex Fire, not the Freeway Triangle Fire. My mistake. At this time, the winds are somewhat quieter and mandatory evacuation orders have been listed. A lot of damage has already been done, however. On a personal note, my DH and I are not near the fire areas, though a good friend of mine is entirely too close for comfort.

As I'm sure you're all aware, Southern California has been on fire since Thursday night when the first big one occurred in Montecito, south of Santa Barbara. Next came the Sayre fire in Sylmar and Newhall Pass in LA County. Then it was Orange County's turn. The fire, now being called the Freeway Triangle Fire, started in Corona in Riverside County but quickly moved westward along the 91 Freeway into Yorba Linda before jumping the freeway into Anaheim Hills. Another fire broke out in Brea which is now spreading north into Diamond Bar. At this point six-seven communities and four counties are involved. I know this is confusing to people in other areas, but the Orange County Register has a great fire map to show the extent of the disaster.

Everything seemed fine at 9:30AM on Saturday morning when I went to my readers group meeting, but when we got out at 11:00, the winds had kicked up and we could smell smoke was in the air. By early afternoon, air quality had dramatically changed with the smoke casting an orange pall over everything. These two photos were taken about 1:30PM.

Though California is known for earthquakes, our annual fires are more destructive. Fall is when we get the dreaded Santa Ana winds, dry winds that sweep out of the desert, through the canyons and into Southern California. Sometimes they're hot, as they are now, and sometimes cold, but always extremely dry and dangerous. The origin of the word is uncertain but according to the Los Angeles Almanac via Wikipedia the derivation may come from "the Spanish vientos de Satán ("winds of Satan") otherwise known as devil winds. Once the Santa Anas start, humidity plunges into the 5-10% range and it only takes a spark to set our chaparral-covered hills on fire.

Governor Schwarzeneggar came to visit Sunday morning and led a press conference. Over 10,000 acres have burned, a number that is sure to rise. Anaheim Mayor Pringle spoke and said that my city alone had lost over 100 residential units already, including condos and apartments, another number that may rise. The city of Yorba Linda has lost over 70 homes. 1,260 firefighters, 15 helicopters and 10 air tankers have been fighting the fire, with seven minor injuries.

The only good news is that the winds should change in the next couple of days, usually accompanied by a rise in humidity. I hope the firefighters can get a handle on the fire soon and that no one else loses their home. My heart goes out to those who already have.

Linda

Click here for Yahoo's slide of fire pictures.

21 comments:

Travis Erwin said...

Stay safe.

debra said...

Yes, do stay safe.

David Cranmer said...

My thoughts and prayers go out to you and everyone in your community.

Teresa said...

Hi Linda,

You got some great pictures. Did you leave Orange County for SC? The air quality is noticebly better in south County.

Teresa

Barrie said...

Stay safe. Barrie xo

Linda McLaughlin said...

Thanks, all, we're not close enough to the fires to be in danger, though this air quality is bad for anyone with asthma or severe allergies.

Teresa, hope you're allergies are under control. And yes, the air quality in south county is much better.

Linda

lyzzydee said...

Linda, I am so sorry to hear about this, it has made the news here. I hope you andf yours stay safe.

pattinase (abbott) said...

This is heartbreaking every fall. Surely there must be some way to alter this yearly conflagration.

Clare2e said...

God bless. My mother, stepfather, and brother live in Ventura Co., and have had fire creep into their cul-de-sac. When I lived in Pasadena, I remember the yearly fires and mudslides from the canyon. I also remember vacationing in beautiful Montecito. *sigh* It seems as if, as I post this, the winds have dropped.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Thanks, lyzzydee, we'll be fine.

Patti, alas, I don't think much can be done. This seems to be part of a natural cycle exacerbated by the current drought. The part that could have been controlled was not allowing housing developments into hilly, fire-prone areas, but the population has just exploded here and there's such demand for houseing. I realy shouldn't complain, since I'm not a native either.

Clare, yes, the winds have subsided some but there's still smoke in the fire. It will take a while for the fires to burn themselves out.

Linda

Jenny Jill said...

It is good to understand what is going on in the rest of the world. We are having snow and 0 degrees (32 F) temperatures.

Thank you for posting the information. I think I'll take the cold, myself, without complaints!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Linda,

I am glad that you and your family are safe. I pray for those families that are in harms way.

Terrie

Barbara Martin said...

Thanks for the informative post and the link. Stay safe, inside and don't breathe in that smoke.

Anonymous said...

Stay safe! Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the situation!

Mary said...

I am glad you are alright! We are praying for your friend and all the others in harms way.

Junosmom said...

The photos are just amazing, as is your account of how quickly the air changed.

Linda McLaughlin said...

My thanks to all for your good wishes for the people affected by the fires.

Jenny Jill, right now snow sound good to me, too. That would put the fires out in a hurry!

Linda

Beth said...

We were watching #1 son's baseball game Sun and saw and felt the wind change from blowing in from the dessert to blowing in off the ocean. By the time we got home the smoke was over our house. Before that it had blown north/east of us leaving us with blue sky. My sister in Long Beach said that everything was covered with ashes, we live much closer to the fire and didn't have any.
Oh that fickle wind. We're thankful our friends were spared in the fire. My heart goes out to the families who were not so fortunate.

deboradale said...

This is just devastating to see. I cannot imagine the horror of knowing your home is literally in the line of fire. They've said at least one of the fires was man-made. Do you know if they're thinking accident or arson?

~Debbie

Linda McLaughlin said...

Debbie, apparently the so-called Tea Light fire in Montecito (near Santa Barbara) was accidentally started by students who lit a bonfire. They left the area thinking they'd put out the fire, but embers were still smoldering and were later kicked up by the winds. By the time it was over 210 homes had been destroyed. Authorities believe there was no malicious intent involved.

Linda

Kathleen Rowland said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Linda. Aren't we grateful for the rain since it has been so dry. -Kathleen Rowland