Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego Fire 07

October 22, 2007 San Diego

I spent Sunday evening watching the Indians blow their 3-game lead against Boston and end my dream of finally seeing my team win a World Series, again. This was the third time, and it was supposed to be the charm.

As I sat there reminding myself that it could be worse, the news of the terrible fires in North San Diego started rolling in. As I went to bed at midnight, it was apparent that the first thing I needed to do in the morning was see if I would be going to work or not.

"Ground Zero" of the fires is the Rancho Bernardo area. It is located about 25 miles north of downtown San Diego, and 25 miles from where I live in Mission Beach.

Click here for a link of where my office is relative to San Diego

The radio said that I-15 was closed about 10 miles south of my office in Rancho Bernardo. We call Rancho Bernado the "RB". Its a quiet little suburb that some people call the Old Folks Home because so many elderly people live up there. HP also has a 3000 person campus there, along with other companies like Sony.

So the fires started near Ramona. I know a few people that live in Ramona that I work with. The fire spread west to Poway, where a lot of people at work live. Then this morning I hear that they are evacuating Rancho Bernardo. I figure about half the people where I work live with 10 miles of work, and they are all evacuated. I haven't talked to all of them of course, but I already know two people that have had their houses burned down.

I began looking at the addresses of the houses that have been burnt, and they are about 1/2 mile from my office, to the north. I have two co-workers that have houses just to the east of the area that has all the burned down houses.....I fear the worst, as the wind blows east-to-west, and likely came from where they live. I wish them the best.

I took a hike up a local mountain to try and see the fires at sunset. Lets take a look at the pictures

Wow, this is my car. It isn't quite covered in ash, but there is certainly lots of crap in the air. The air smells like someone is having a bonfire. The sky is smoggy, smokey. Walk down to the beach, and look north, and you see a grey blandness. To the south, a little more blue, then getting grey again further

A chair on my deck. More ash. Probably more on the way.

This is a view of La Jolla from Mt Soledad. Its usually clear and gorgeous. Today, not so. It isn't that far, and you can barely see through the smoke.

This is a view to the north-east. This is the direction of the fire. You can see it is even smokier than towards the ocean. Up on the top of the mountain at 800ft, there is a pretty steady westward breeze. It isn't anywhere near the 70mph gusts that I see in RB. Its a really nice warm breeze too, hot dry air from the desert. It makes for a great day on the beach, with the warmest temperatures of the year, but is creating havok up north.

Smoke in the sky = great sunsets. Today was no exception. With destruction there is often beauty.

Another view towards the fires. I never was able to see any of the fire - the smoke is too thick, its nearly 15 miles away, and I think the fire is behind a mountain. What is most amazing is the I-5 freeway below. This picture is at 5.30pm, and usually you'd see bumper-to-bumper traffic going south. Instead, none. Going North, the highway is nearly bare. The town has pretty much shut down.

I wasn' t the only one up on the top of the mountain chasing a peek of the carnage happening to our neighbors.

A better view of I-5 and the lack of traffic.

The picture below is the view when there is no fire. Not quite a clear day, but you can see the mountains in the background. (you can click on the shot to see a bigger one)

Golden Triangle, as seen from Mt. Soledad

Another view of La Jolla. Below hopefully is a picture of a view of La Jolla on a clear day. Quite a difference. San Diego isn't usually smoggy like LA, so this is really unusual. (You can click on the tiny shot to see a bigger one)

Mt. Soledad view of La Jolla Shores.

So anyway, I'm fine down where I am. I am surrounded on two sides by water, so I don't imagine there is any chance there will be fire by me. This time.

We had similar fires exactly four years ago to the week. People knew these were coming. The Santa Anna winds blow massive warm wind in from the desert. Gusts up to 70mph. I saw the palm trees up in RB on TV, and they were blowing like a hurricane was coming through. The wind blows the glowing embers of the fire into the air. The gusts last about 30 seconds, but at 70mph, it can blow the embers half a mile in that time....blowing them right over the 10 lane I-15 freeway! Amazing.

I wonder how many people I work with will lose their houses. One of my friends speculated that if our site burns down, it would be cheaper to move everyone to our other sites (some of which are half empty due to overseas outsourcing) than to rebuild. Lets hope that doesn't happen.

Work is obviously closed. I received an email that it will be closed again tomorrow. I usually receive about 100 emails per day, but with the entire site closed, and no doubt the rest of our division (in Oregon, Idaho, and Virginia) in a bit of shell-shock, I received maybe 10 emails.

The world here in San Diego has just stopped. Stores even 30 miles south of the fire are closing early. They are asking us not to drive anywhere so the freeways are free for emergency crew traffic. It is a similar feel to when a huge massive snowstorm rolls through, except houses are being destroyed and people are fighting hard to save what they can.

....and me? Down here on the beach, its 80 and sunny all day. Surf is up with great waves because of the off-shore wind. I'm lucky. I'm safe and have a roof over my head.

Meanwhile, 10000 people are starting to mass at the Charger's Stadium. Evacuees they call them, but refugees might be a better word.

This is our New Orleans. 250,000 people out of their homes. Will Southern California be the second USA victim of Global Warming? We'll see.

My best wishes to all my friends....