The fire is at 83% containment. We can all breathe more deeply, the sky has returned to blue, and we think with grateful affection of the fire responders of all kinds who stepped up to fight for, and help our communities.
Those of us who recall other fires that seemed almost certainly vanquished still look every day and evening to check that there has been no break-out. But the weather has been reasonably kind, without the sundowners that were to blame on previous such occasions.
A photo from the street above ours and a map showing the Whittier Fire’s gains due to the sundowners. (Last night’s gains shown in appropriate fire red.)
Whittier Fire has sent friends with their two dogs and cat, to house with us — great company, but we look at the weather predictions and cannot be happy about the sundowners and the proximity of the western flames to populated areas. We are not immediately affected but even as I type that, I say, how can I make such a statement when we have people taking refuge from the fire under our own roof?
I take note that our guests know their animals, and put them together in the bathroom with their things. Thus a sense of a small controllable space for the animals with the company of fellows they know, and so they spent the majority of the time. We had prepared an outside run for the dogs, but I could see it was too much, too challenging to have so many changes, and too much strange space, however good our intentions. Happy pets to have people who understand what they really need. I’ll try to remember this if I ever have to evacuate my own pets to some refuge.
We could stand in the roadway last night and see distant flames over a ridge about two thousand feet up and to the West. Deep orange red leaping against the black, with a smudge of warm in the sky overhead. Overnight the fire expanded, fed by the winds, and containment dropped to 35%. Now, on this Saturday, we wait and wonder what the weather will send us next. There’s a suggestion that we will see more sundowner or Santa Ana winds– a bad prospect.
The day has a color to it and a faint taste. The Whittier Fire has burned over 10,800 acres so far, and the sky is hazed by a strange warm hue. From the detail map it seems that a fierce defense of the two peaks which carry most of our communications may have been successful, but as I noted before if any of you find it difficult to reach family or friends in this area of Southern California, don’t panic– communications may be challenged.
I can only salute the extraordinary fire respondents in all roles, who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us who go about our daily lives with little more than a feeling of anxiety, refreshed every so often by a look at the alien sky. I think this will be a long fight.
This fire started yesterday on the other side of the great spine of mountains that runs West to East North of Santa Barbara. It sounds confusing to say we live in an area of California North of the Pacific Ocean, but that is true. Geological forces thrust our part of the state out like a bent knee.
The fire has been fast and destructive, causing many folk we know to evacuate. Pyrocumulus above the ridge of mountains has risen and dissipated repeatedly. The Whittier Fire quieted overnight, as wildfires usually do when night temperatures subside, but as this day warms we will see a lot of smoke and ash. I hope no fire responders meet any harm. The fire broached the ridge line once later yesterday– we really want to see it remain on the far side of the mountains if possible. But it’s some of the oldest chaparral around in rough ridged terrain, so time will tell. In an ecological sense it must burn, it’s supposed to burn, and that is the bottom line. However with our possible winds it might cause trouble this side of the peaks. On a nicer note we were woken a little after six by a rain shower– so unexpected it felt like a gift in this dry season of our year. Not enough to matter, except to our spirits!
The photo above, taken from a friend’s front yard, misleads. The sun in the smoke was the color of ripest strawberries.