Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Trial by Fire
  • Sunday, 2:00 am: Wake up, smell smoke. Think it's a fan in the room overheating. Turn off fan, go back to sleep.

  • Sunday, 9:00 am: Here's the cause of the smoke smell:

    Hood of DH's truck, covered with ash

    Sky above our house. Darkness is smoke, not clouds.

  • Sunday, 9:00 am: Pack 1 suitcase each. Ready parrot's travel cages, cat's travel cage, dog's leash. Tell RockStar to pick out ONE favorite guitar. Gather important papers, prescription medications, video of our wedding, jewelry, and 1 computer. Pack both cars.

  • Sunday, 10:30 am: Drive to bluff overlooking our subdivision in Tierrasanta (San Diego) to get a better view of what's coming. Fire is on the Miramar Marine Air Station, immediately west. As the crow flies, the fire is about 2 miles away.

    Shot #1: Beginning of 6-mile wide fireline.

    Shot #2: Middle of 6-mile wide fireline.

    Shot #3: End of 6-mile wide fireline.

    At this point, there were about 15 persons on the bluff viewing the fire. We all looked at each other, and bolted for our cars. Here's a shot of the sky as we descended down through the subdivision:

    About halfway down the hill on the way home.

  • Sunday, 11:00 am: Police drive through neighborhood, giving us the mandatory evacuation order.
  • Over 4,000 people are evacuated from Tierrasanta in less than 3 hours. The San Diego Police Department deserve major credit for the calm, orderly control of the exodus.

    Over 3,000 people from Tierrasanta and the neighboring community of San Carlos evacuated to Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers pro football team. Monday Night Football is scheduled to broadcast tomorrow.

  • Sunday, 1:00 pm: Most major freeways in San Diego are closed due to fire threat. A 20-minute drive to DH's brother's house takes over an hour over surface streets and the remaining open freeway. Almost immediately after we arrive, the last remaining freeway (Interstate 805) is closed.

  • Sunday, 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm: Monitor broadcast news for news of the fire. Much of a community 5 miles north of us, Scripps Ranch, is reduced to ashes. No news of Tierrasanta. We take this as good news. If Tierrasanta had burned, there would have been reporters broadcasting. Fortunately, our intuition was correct. Tierrasanta lost 10 homes, Scripps Ranch lost over 200 homes.

    Monday Night Football is moved to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. San Diego fans' tickets are honored in Arizona, but many can't make the drive due to all but 2 major freeways being closed. Arizona fans are offered free entrance to the event, but are urged to make donations to a fire fund.

  • Here's what evacuating parrots look like. The parrots stayed in their travel cages on brother-in-law's kitchen table:

    Let us out!

  • Monday, 7:00 am: Continue to monitor news. No major news of Tierrasanta.

  • Monday, 3:00 pm: San Diego Police give the OK for residents to re-enter Tierrasanta and San Carlos. Here's what we saw going home:

    Interstate 15 north of Clairemont Mesa exit, San Diego. Note burned canyons on the left.

    West entrance to Tierrasanta community. More burned canyons on the left.

  • San Diego School District has closed schools both yesterday and today due to poor air quality. Normal pollution levels are 10-15 microns per thousand. Current levels are 150 microns per thousand. Mayor Dick Murphy urged San Diego employers to allow employees to take Monday off -- many employers complied.

    The fires are still raging north and south of us. Totals to date: over 150,000 acres burned, 11 people killed.

    We're grateful that our home is still standing. We're grateful we were able to stay in a nice home during the evacuation, instead of camping out in a stadium parking lot, as many had to do. We're grateful we have each other and that we're unharmed. At one point on Monday evening, settled back into our home, DH and I looked at each other and agreed that everything we took with us when we evacuated would have been precisely what we needed to start over; nothing more, nothing less.

    I'm out of words.

    No comments: