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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Fire Escape - Putting everything on hold to run away from the Station Fire

Photo by John T. Van Vliet
© 2009



I had to drop everything and go Saturday afternoon when the police came around with sirens and bullhorns to evacuate the neighborhood. I of course didn't hear it, tucked away as I am, but my next-door neighbor called to let me know. This fire had already been burning for three days, yet I find it surprising that it could get so far with absolutely no wind to drive it. I stuffed as many paintings as I could in the trunk of my car, packed photos, documents, an overnight case, and pet food and pet supplies and went to the home of friends who were willing and able to tolerate Bear and me.

Sunday morning I returned home, happy to find it still there, but within hours the fires seemed to be progressing from two directions. I found it unnerving to see flames cresting a tall ridge above the development on a hillside above my home. I could also see the helicopters making water drops to the west coming closer with each drop. I returned to my friends’ home and stayed there through Monday night.


I hear from my neighbors that stayed behind that Monday night was the worst. By now the fire fighters were setting controlled burns to the north and to the west and blocked off my street. When I woke up on Tuesday morning it was cooler and there was moisture in the air. I had an overall optimistic feeling. I went home where things were calmer than they had been in days. My trees and yard were fresh from where neighbors had hosed it all down as a precaution. As the smoke started to clear I went outside to see the charred hillsides and mountain slopes. While talking with a neighbor we noticed new flames on a ridge about a half-mile away that turned out to be a controlled burn. While watching we saw what looked like fireworks arcing up and then over, presumably part of the back burning process.



This fire continues to burn and they are still working on nearby areas to the west. It seems like the backfires have eliminated enough fuel so that the homes around here will be safe for some time. I hope they have great success to the north and to the east. I am enormously relieved that my home and my neighbors' homes were untouched. I am surprised by how exhausted I feel from just waiting and watching. I am amazed and grateful for the work of the fire fighters and for the kindness, generosity, and the help of friends and neighbors.

Time lapse of Station Fire by John Van Vliet

17 comments:

Melissa said...

"I am surprised by how exhausted I feel from just waiting and watching. I am amazed and grateful for the work of the fire fighters and for the kindness, generosity, and the help of friends and neighbors."

Ditto.

Jean Spitzer said...

I'm so glad you're okay. Watching and waiting truly is exhausting.

anne m bray said...

so glad to hear you got through it safely

Katherine Kean said...

Melissa - I hope you're back home now and can rest.

Jean - I've been worried about you. Are you near the fires?

Anne - Thanks, it's quite a relief!

Palmer said...

I was so glad to hear that you were home again. I had seen that Tujunga was very close.

Kathryn Hansen said...

so happy to hear you are well and your home in tact! it's an exhausting process of just watching and waiting.

i brought back all our valuables from my sisters last night.

Made by SwirlyGirl said...

I hope you come out of this unscathed. All the best.
Laurie http://madebyswirlygirl.blogspot.com

Zataod said...

Katherine -- I'm glad to hear you are safe and sound. We seem to have it easy hear in the Midwest, just a occasional thunderstorm or snowstorm.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Just can't imagine how frightening and unnerving this must be. Good to learn you are alright. This is such a nightmare for so many.

Do take care of yourself and all that beautiful artwork!

Gabrielle said...

Katherine - my heart was in my throat as I read your post. I am glad you are okay. We have bad wildfires here sometimes, so I know something of what you are going through although luckily I've never had to evacuate, but other friends have. A work friend's boyfriend is on the front lines of your fire. We haven't had many wildfires here this year, so his crew was shipped to LA.

You are in my thoughts.

Katherine Kean said...

Palmer - thank you - yes, too close!

Kathryn - I'm glad you're okay.

Laurie - thank you!

Katherine Kean said...

Zataod - Thanks. Those midwestern blizzards can be a trial of their own.

Bonnie - thank you - I appreciate that. All seems calm now.

Katherine Kean said...

Gabrielle - This was a first for me. There have been fires nearby before, but nothing like this. We are so blessed to have firefighters from all over available. I hope your friend's boyfriend and all of the fire fighters know how grateful we all are and how wowed we are at the outstanding job they've been doing. They are doing amazing work and it is so very appreciated.

Jean Spitzer said...

Katherine, we're in Pasadena hills, but have not, so far, been in an area imminently threatened.

Katherine Kean said...

Jean - I'm glad to hear that.

BETH ROMMEL said...

I'm glad you are okay and safe.

Katherine Kean said...

Thank you Beth!