Thursday, October 25, 2007

Report From The Doorstep of Hell - Now What?

After spending much of the time since last Sunday glued to the television and listening to radio reports about the devastating fires throughout Southern California and trying, with only marginal success, to contact friends and relatives in the fire zones, I feel like I've been pulled through an emotional knot hole.

We have many friends who live in or around the affected areas, some of whom evacuated and others who chose to hunker down and see what happened. That latter is not advised and we're keeping our fingers crossed that their decision doesn't come back to bite them.

Since Monday I've tinkered with a blog entry to address this subject, but kept bumping up against statistics that were accumulating so fast that it was just overwhelming. Fortunately, our pal Art Pedroza over at the Orange Juice! Blog has been doing a daily update. If you click here you can go to that blog and scroll down through his summaries and the links he's provided. The articles and images will give you all the information you need on our situation out here. Art's done an amazing job on this subject all week. Kudos to him.

In his most recent entry he included a link from The Cycling Dude blog which addresses riding bicycles in this smoke-filled environment. Click here for that link.

The scope of these fires and the tremendous efforts made to combat them are staggering. The images of helicopters, Super Scoopers and that huge DC-10 tanker dropping water and fire retardant all over our region for the past five days have been amazing. Stories of firefighters going for 36-48 hours without sleep, trying to protect homes and lives, makes you realize how much we owe to those heroes.

One number I heard this afternoon that rocked me - 25% of the land area of San Diego County has been burned in this set of fires! That's an astounding number, which only compounds the half million residents displaced at least temporarily and more than 1500 homes that have been destroyed.

Those of us in Orange County are dealing with the fact that the Santiago Fire - "our" fire - was caused by an arsonist. This fact heaps even more emotional grief onto an already terrible situation. To date, more than $150,000 in reward money has been made available for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.

Among the many frustrating situations being faced here has been the wind - then the lack of it. When the fires first started winds were being clocked in some places at over 100 miles per hour, with constant winds well over 50mph in many places. This made it almost impossible to contain the fires - the wind-driven embers simply jumped fire lines and started new fires miles away. At one time during the past three days there were nearly 30 separately identified fires burning from the Santa Inez Valley north of Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. Today there is very little wind, which some would cheer. However, because the entire region is covered with thick, acrid smoke, some of the most effective air assets cannot be used because the pilots cannot see! What we need is a little breeze from somewhere to move the smoke around a little so the big guys can get back into the game.

It's going to take more than a week for most of the fires to be contained based on recent reports. I doubt we will have full containment of all the fire locations until well into November and probably won't have meaningful statistics until Thanksgiving.

Thanks to each of you who have expressed concern for us out here on the Doorstep of Hell. Thanks to those of you who have chosen to contribute to the various relief organizations helping the newly homeless from these fires. Thanks to the emergency personnel - the firefighters, police, National Guard and the countless volunteers who continue to provide support to the evacuees. Thanks to you all.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, I received the following email from the Boy Scouts of America Orange County Council office:

The Firemen are in urgent need of sleeping bags. They have a few hundred men with no sleeping bags fighting the fires. Take donations to Irvine Park entrance. Thank you!!!!

10/25/2007 07:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We just received word that the firefighters no longer need more sleeping bags!

10/26/2007 07:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for spreading the word about cycling in these conditions.

Some parts of the county are still under health advisory today, while others are not.

According to what the experts are saying those with certain health conditions especially are the ones who still need to avoid strenuous outdoor activity.

10/27/2007 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

The Orange County Rescue Mission has set up a website and is actively collecting food,etc., for displaced fire victims in need.

Their home base is close to Edinger and Red Hill.

see you there?

10/27/2007 04:11:00 PM  

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