05 October 2019

Mother Nature is a Beast or...

Pre-evacuation on a Saturday Morning.

About a month ago, September 8 to be exact, a small fire was started by lightning in the wilderness south and west of where I live and work. It was christened the Decker Fire. Since it was in the wilderness and the terrain was very inhospitable, the forest service let it burn which is their custom. There were no structures or people to worry about and forest fires are naturally occurring ways for dead underbrush to be cleared out. For a couple of weeks the fire stayed at about 1000 acres of wilderness.
Then we had some unusual and strong October winds. The fire was still in the wilderness but getting close to the ridge of Methodist Mountain, a mountain right in Salida, with houses and businesses.   No worries, fires only burn uphill. It won’t cross the ridge.
These pics are from Wednesday when the fire did crest the ridge and start downhill. 130 residences were evacuated at 2am. Mother Nature is a beast and she doesn’t always follow the rules. Over night the fire doubled in size.

The view from the hospital parking lot outside my office on Wednesday. 

You can see the burning fires on the side of Methodist Mountain. 
Fire can move downhill after all.

Friday at work I got a Pre-evacuation phone call from the county.  I had signed up for that little service last time there was a forest fire nearby. Wait. What? I live way west of the fire. Or so I thought. 
A neighborhood meeting at my local fire station after work was packed.  Parking lot overflowing, people parked along the highway, standing room only packed.   The gist of the meeting was that the edge of the fire is two miles from a "trigger point". If the fire reaches that line, all of Howard where I live will be evacuated as a precaution. The fire line is still in unreachable territory so there has not been much they can do to stop it. Instead they are trying to build breaks west of the fire that would halt spreading. But the officials probably aren't interested in another 2am evacuation fiasco so they are also being overly cautious.  "Go home and make a plan. If you have livestock that needs to be transported, do it sooner rather than later." 

The map from last night's meeting.
The distances seem so far yet....

The fire now covers 5,921 acres. Winds today are supposed to pick up as the day heats up. Humidity is low. Perfect fire conditions.
Interesting what becomes important when you walk around your house "making a plan".   What's important? What do you really need? What do you save? 
My divorce was a lesson in letting go. In 11 days I managed to empty a 3000 square foot house with a 3 car garage and condense the remains into an 8x10 storage unit. In the 2 years since I made that move there have been two things that I wish I had kept. One skirt, one blouse. No idea what happened to either one of them. Furniture went. Clothes went. Dishes, spices, tools, cleaning supplies, sports equipment- all given away. Pretty much what remained were the things that had sentimental value, the art and craft supplies, the kid stuff, my day to day necessities.
So Friday night was spent wandering the house, putting things in the car, finding the winter clothes, deciding which books have to come, which jewelry. I had already gotten my fireproof, waterproof bag of important papers out along with the cat kennel and pet food.  A Rubbermaid tub has joined those essentials and in it goes....what?  A silver pitcher. The kids' baby books. The good jewelry. The computer keyboard and mouse. Extra car and house keys. The sterling silverware and wine goblets are already in the car as is my father's large framed baby photo from when he was one. But really?
Not much I can't live without.   
The house no longer holds my kids. My friends don't live here. The dog and cat will come with.
The girls are very practical, if not particularly ethical. I told them I was on alert and their responses? 

I guess they don't realize I have already started a new life. But hey!
Maybe it's time to reimagine life again. 
Mother Nature is a beast. 
So am I.