It appears that we dodged a bullet with our particular location. Unfortunately, many others were not so lucky. They are estimating 210 lost houses. That's 210 families whose lives have been materially altered in just a few days. I can't imagine, but my thoughts and prayers go out to them during the cleanup and rebuilding effort. I wish I was out there to help in some physical way.
Ed. Note: As before, times are listed in Pacific Time, regardless of the writer's location.
3:55am My laptop power issues are now assuaged, but the fire is looking significantly worse this morning. The acreage burned is up to 2000 acres. At least 80 homes have been burned. There is no sign of the winds calming down at least until the weekend. That's at least a whole Friday to continue being blown around, when the fire has already gone zero to two thousand acres in 10 hours.
4:22am This morning's plan appears to include about 20 fire-fighting aircraft to supplement the 500 ground personnel from all around the area. Let's hope and pray that's enough to keep the fire out of the densely populated part of the city that the fire seems intent on blazing through.
5:03am Apparently, the helicopters are running in the night by using night vision technology. That has had a significant affect on the spread of the fire through some tree groves. Amazing what they can do.
7:20am The cities are now requesting that people curtail their water usage. The water reserves for firefighting purposes are dangerously low.
8:03am The current main risk to people in the area is breathing of the smoke in the air causing respiratory issues. Worse than run-of-the-mill smoke is smoke from burning poison oak, which is common in the burn area. Inhaled, the toxin does really bad things to the inside lining of the lungs.
9:03am The latest press release says there are 650 firefighters working the fire now. It's not expanding at the moment, as the winds are much calmer. However, we're still talking about 100+ houses destroyed, and a 3000 acre burn zone. And, of course, this afternoon is the big litmus test for how much they've actually gotten it under control. With the mandatory evacuation line just two blocks from our house, we'll be watching this afternoon very closely.
Ed. Note: I may be in Austin, at the moment, but times are listed in Pacific Time.
8:31pm There is currently a fire burning not far from our house in Santa Barbara. GB has evacuated, and called to say he could not only see the fire from the house, but that if he walked outside it felt hot at 8pm. I am madly refreshing news site webpages, and praying feverishly. Will update when I know more.
9:13pm The first press release on this 3-hour-old fire is out, and seven houses are listed as having burned. None of the national news outlets have noticed, yet, and I haven't heard anything new from GB. Battery-life on my laptop is limited, but I'll keep checking on things. Ack. The not knowing is stressful.
9:29pm Heard from GB. He's out and safe, but it's hard to breathe outside. Keep the firefighters in your prayers. I'm going to try to sleep for a while and check again in the morning.
9:39pm Well, headed to sleep except that I heard from GB again. He's hearing 12 houses have burned, and the 50 mile-per-hour winds are the biggest challenge right now. Scary stuff when conditions are that volatile.
11:16pm Over 100 houses burned. 4 people with burns. More evacuations. The fire exceeds 400 acres. This one is bad, folks.
"The Vow" by Geoff Moore & The Distance* on Home Run "Dancing Anne" by California Guitar Trio on Cg3+2 "For All You're Worth" by Petra on No Doubt "It Ain't Cool To Be Crazy About You" by George Strait on Greatest Hits Volume II "The Music of the Night" by Andrew Lloyd Webber on The Phantom of the Opera "The Dance" by Garth Brooks on The Hits "Talk Soup" by Weird Al Yankovic* on Alapalooza "The Farmer and the Queen" by Shel Silverstein on Where The Sidewalk Ends "Father & Son" by Cat Stevens on Greatest Hits "Turn You Inside-Out" by R.E.M. on Green
Nothing stellar here. I do like "The Dance" in the liking-songs-that-cause-emoting-even-though-it's-a-bittersweet-emotion way. Otherwise, the rest of the pile I could take or leave. Maybe next week will be better.
Tuesday, the busses were free to encourage people to go vote. You didn't even have to have a sticker or anything. It was a nice little sentiment. Then, one of the driver/maintenance unions that CapMetro uses went on strike on Wednesday. They trimmed down all the routes to just the main thoroughfare routes (which is fine with me, since those are the routes I use, anyway). As a consolation offering of sorts, the busses that remain in operation are all free.
I really do understand all this, but I just bought an unlimited pass for the month on Monday night. As an ultra-frugal person, I wish I'd just waited until the strike was over.
I'm feeling rather gushy and happy after last night's crowning of Barack Obama as President #44-elect. So, I wanted to throw out a few words of thanks.
Thank you to the American people, for heeding my request to give the Democrats the best chance they had to win the presidency. Thank you for voting and not just becoming complacent and staying home when it looked like the election was in the bag. Thank you for recognizing the Palin stunt for what it was and for seeing through the campaign of everyone's favorite Republican-with-an-independent-streak to recognize that 2008 McCain was not 2000 McCain. I love you all.