Photo by John T. Van Vliet
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