Thursday, October 25, 2007

Whew! we are safe and not evacuated

Yesterday was quite a frightening experience. About 2pm a third fire broke out on Camp Pendleton at the Back (East) gate entrance. It just so happens that we actually live approximately one mile from that entrance.
*picture at left was taken while standing on my porch and it was a stone throw away in height, with the fire not much further away it seemed.
It only took a casual glance out the front window to see the bellows of black smoke quickly filling the sky. It grew in proportion and darkness exponentially quick, making it even more disconcerting. We did not want to jump to a conclusion since these things always look closer than they may be, so we hopped in the car to drive about three blocks away to the top of our hill for a peek... only to discover that the streets had already been closed and blocked by our local police. They were allowing people to leave the neighborhood but nobody was coming in!

We drove back to the house and got the cars facing the street and started to pack up. At that time the neighbor across the street came over to tell us, and everyone else standing outside wondering what to do, that he could now see the flames from his house. No sooner was this mentioned and about a dozen huge military helicopters with water drop buckets began circling the new fire with attempts to extinguish.

As our evacuee family staying with us and myself stood on the front porch while helicopters flew about 50 feet directly overhead of our house, we stood in amazement, and after a couple of loops of this we again realized we have to get our gear packed and ready to head. The black smoke and fire was obviously running running towards us as we could determine not only by the winds blowing South of us (which was bad) but also the circles the copters were taking for their drops.

When we turned our attention away from the sky we then realized the size of the ash falling was a little smaller than a dime and continuing to give us new ground cover over the existing ash already on the ground.

In any case though we quickly became grateful for being so close to a military encampment because we realized they have an amazing set of resources. All of the above transpired in a matter of 30-60 minutes and they had set an operation in motion that doused the fire extremely quickly, and giving us a great level of relief. The major downside though was that being it was on a military base we had absolutely no news coverage or reports other than what we could see. Watching helicopters with water buckets you don't need to be a scientist to know the best thing is to get out!

Through the night though we stood watchful shifts for flare-ups and wind shifts; not to mention the Fallbrook fire still burns with minimum containment. Fallbrook is still our neighboring city to the East so all of us are still on watch and our evacuees are still under formal evacuation and their streets are closed.
To all my friends and family we cannot thank all of you enough for the incredible outpouring of support and offers of housing. We are also getting word from most of our friends and co-workers in the devastation and evacuation areas that they are returning to their homes and to this point have not heard of any major losses in personal safety or homes and belongings.

We continue to watch and be prepared but we must get back to our lives and keep the city running.

Thank You again to everyone who has been in contact with us over this difficult time.

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