It's getting hot in here

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

No really, it has been in the 80's all week long. The fires have been devastating and almost unreal. Every local news show has been covering it from morning to night. It's like watching a movie; it didn't sink in until I got to work on Monday.

The Oakley building is at the edge of the fire zone. Not a very active person, I didn't even know where Modjeska Canyon was until I saw a map of it all over the news. It is literally up the street from work. I always thought it was a far away (mystical, even) Glamis, lol...really mystical.

We don't have windows in our department so I stayed out of touch with reality most of the day. We received emails by the hour providing status updates. By the end of the day it read, " Fires are one mile away. No new evacuation news. It's business as usual tomorrow." As Ed and I were leaving the building, it was smoky and hazy. You could see the fires blazing up the hill. We eagerly checked our work email for more news. As we leave the immediate area we can see blue skies. What was strange was driving into the dark gray covered sky that hovered over San Clemente. I could hardly sleep. I was glued to the TV as many of you were.

Tuesday morning. I check my emails and notice there were 5 updates since I last checked. The 6:00am email said the streets were closed off, but to flash our badge and we'd get passed the barricade because it was "business as usual". About a mile away and you can smell the smoke invade the car. It smelled like a camp fire--somewhat familiar and not yet repugnant. The scent in the building was not pleasant. The day goes on and people were antsy. Emails were delivered every hour on the hour. By noon, the fire had moved its way towards the building. Apparently, it's still not a threat. At around 2pm it moved across the street. Still not a direct threat. Hmmpf...I don't think people are buying it.

My team left for a while. Had no idea where the all went. Only when one returns to say she was not interested in climbing a steep ladder to check out the view from our fire-proof roof...however, not very fire proof when you are standing on top of it. People came back saying how you can hear the fire roaring --crackle, crackle-- and feel the wind it created with force, very much alive. I'm kind of sorry that I didn't check it out. By 3pm we finally got the email for a voluntary evacuation. We were the only building working in the area past 10am. The streets were closed off because the fire was threatening to jump across it. Behind the building I can see the hoards of news vans and camera crew capturing the fire dance. I didn't think of taking pictures until I was in my car. We have quite a few aspiring photographers in the building that took some amazing pictures. I can't take credit for most of it.

Here is a picture of our building in relation to the fire area.

Tuesday, October 22, 2007

From the roof of our building. You can see how close it really did come.

Give credit where credit is do. These were taken by Jerry Kasai. Amazing photos.

Into the evening...

We had an amazing sunset at T Street in San Clemente.
I had to pull over to capture it. You can see the smoke roll in.

Before I snuggled into bed, we were alerted of another fire closer to home. Five miles south of San Clemente, a fire broke at the border check in Camp Pendleton. Before snuggling into bed, the fire had hopped over the 5 freeway to the west side moving in the direction of San Onofre nuclear power plant, which is about 3 miles south of us. I capture a few pictures of the area from my balcony.

Wednesday, October 23, 2007

This is what beautiful San Clemente looked like this morning.

The I5 freeway was closed two exits south of us. It was eerie to see it so empty. But it started to fill up quickly. You can see the smog filled sky and the little patch of "clean" air.

At the end of today, you can see the ash falling.

The latest stats (as of 10:05pm, 10/23/07):
  • 22,000 acres burned
  • Approximately 3,000 homes have been threatened and 43,000 residents have evacuated
  • 30% containment
  • Suspect arson
  • 8 homes damaged and 14 destroyed

These sites are great for updates:
  • OCFA (Orange County Fire Authority)
  • Cal Fire
  • CalFireHelp pairs residents in need of shelter with those that are willing to give it


Ratdog said...

That is so crazy! Good to know you guys are okay... Michael asked me how you were doing, but since I pathetically don't keep up with the news, I had no idea how bad it had gotten or how close the fires were to you!

And I can't believe how late Oakley reacted to sending you home...!

Call Family said...

Those pictures are amazing and I can't believe it was that close and you were all still working.

I was wondering about you but I lost a bunch of numbers on my cell a bit ago when my son threw it in the toilet-AHHH!! Your cell was one of the ones I lost:( so I couldn't call!

Glad you are ok!

Its just crazy all the fires huh!