Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yell Fire

The Oak Knoll neighborhood in Ashland snuggles up to the golf course. I imagine a person might buy a house in such a high end locale, over, say the elegant surrounding hillsides, because it feels safe and secure and protected from the wildfires that rage through the area all too frequently. What could happen in a lovely place like that, right? Well, factor in a homeless man who starts a fire in a dry, grassy ravine next to the freeway. Add wind on a hot August afternoon, and then watch that fire rip through the grass in seconds, gather strength and speed, and leap across four lanes of traffic. Suddenly, there is no such thing as security.

Yesterday afternoon, Rick called me from town, where he was on his way home from a quick grocery run, and was watching in amazement as the first small bit of fire he spotted went out of control almost instantly. He watched a barn burst into flames, with burning debris exploding off in all directions. And while he watched and told me what he was seeing, we started talking about how long it would take us to load up our stuff and clear out of here if we had to. I dashed up to the top of the hill on foot, to get an idea of just how close the fire was to us. Fortunately, it was several miles away, but the wind was blowing in our direction, and ash was already falling all around me. This is not the view we want to see from our little lakeside camp.


We were lucky. It turned out not to be a disaster for us. Fire trucks and 2 helicopters put the flames out over the course of several hours. But it was quite disastrous for a lot of people in Oak Knoll. Aside from the barn, 11 homes were destroyed and 3 were damaged. I haven't heard of anyone being hurt, which is a blessing, but I can barely imagine what it would feel like to lose everything so suddenly. Of course I feel awful for those people, and also grateful to still be parked here in relative safety. I see this as a wake-up call. I'm reminded that there truly is no such thing as security. Things can change course in a heartbeat, and the best we can do is appreciate the calm moments, and try to prepare, at least a little bit, for the chaos. Rick and I got right to work moving the firewood pile we had under the front of our trailer. It was protected from rain there, and easy to get to, but it also blocked us from moving in a hurry if we had to. We're beginning to prep for our trip to Taos anyway, so now is a good time to start organizing things and getting rid of some accumulated stuff we don't intend to take with us. The lesson here for me is, don't get too comfortable, too relaxed. And keep the load light. That way we can move it quickly if necessary, and in a really tight spot, there just isn't that much to lose.

4 comments:

Zoe Nelson said...

So glad you didn't have to evacuate! We don't worry too much here about fires, but I'm very close to a creek and only 100 yds from where it empties into a river. I worry when it rains a lot and always have a "higher ground" plan in my head. You're right about security being fleeting.

Mitzi Miles-Kubota, Painting and Writing for REAL said...

Today, I saw the large scorch where the barn was. Right behind the AM/PM gas station!

Last year, there was a fire closer to us than the one yesterday. More wind, too, in our direction. I called Ron home. We loaded (literally THREW!) all of my paintings and the two computers into the art trailer, hitched up, and waited. Luckily, we didn't have to hightail it.

You find out quickly what stuff is worth what!

Levonne said...

Kim, I heard about wildfires in your area this morning on the radio and wondered how you guys were fairing. Glad to know you are okay. How is the poison oak coming along. John is almost healed with his small outbreak. If you have a few minutes, come by and meet Jonathan and Nellie Tate - The Midlife Cruisers at my blog - A Camp Host Housewife's Meanderings http://acamphosthousewifesmeanderings.blogspot.com/. Take care...

Ruth said...

I just discovered some very OLD film of my daughters celebrating a birthday and had it transferred to DVD. When I read your blog about the fire, it brought to mind the really important things I would lose, should a fire get close to my house. I live at the beach so not much chance; however, it reminded me to dispose of the disposable and keep handy the important. I was also reminded to live in gratitude...one never knows, does one?

Best wishes on your trip.

By the way when is the next trip to Africa scheduled?

Hugs,
Ruth