Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The 'La Cresta Fire'

This one really scared the crap out of me.

I'm usually off from work on Thursdays so just happened to be home last week on September 24th. Around noon time, Hana had trotted over to the kitchen door, looking really alert, like she wanted to bark at something. I thought it was probably the gardeners' truck pulling up the driveway, since they typically show up around this time. I peered outside and didn't see anything. Not surprising, with Hana's extremely vivid imagination. But just for the heck of it, I also took a quick peek up towards the hill to the right (east) side of the house. Well, for the love of Hana...

OMG - there was a huge plume of smoke directly behind the house. My first primeval, knee-jerk reaction thought? No *@$%&^%% way could this be happening!!!!. And at that very moment, the space-time continuum in my normally simple simon universe literally screeched to a stunning, unambiguous halt.

Ran up the hill to see exactly where the fire was. I was stricken with two simultaneous, conflicting thoughts as soon as I was able to catch my breath and assess the situation. The point of origin for the smoke column was actually about 3 miles away - fantabulous. But let me tell you, 3 miles away is like 3 inches away when you are in panic mode.

Called Gilbert & told him to get his hiney home. Shortly after, our neighbors, Hermina & Woody, drove up the hill in their golf cart and, together, we watched the fire progress over the next 45 minutes or so. Amazing aerial attacks by several water-dropping planes and also a helicopter.

At 1:30pm, Gilbert called me and said he had arrived in Murrieta, but unfortunately, the police had completely blocked access up Clinton Keith Road to La Cresta at Bear Creek. He, along with everyone else who had been trying to drive into Bear Creek or the Santa Rosa Plateau, were routed over to Ralph's supermarket on Calle de Oso Oro. At Ralphs, Gilbert called again and said he was going to use the GPS in the car and find his way back home by 4-wheeling it on a dirt road connecting to La Cresta from Deluz/Tenaja Road. Amazingly, he did make it home around 3:30pm. So I won't ever diss GPS again...

At the end of the day, the fire was contained within 24 hours, with a total of about 20 acres burned, no structures damaged or any casualties. A true testiment to the skill and dedication of our brave firefighters and amazing air support.

And now, for the 'Dumbass' award of the year: the fire was apparently caused by a tractor mower that was, what, mowing bone dry brush in chaparral foothills, in the middle of the day, in 100F temps, and Santa Ana wind conditions? WTF?!

You Tube videos posted by a La Cresta resident on the La Cresta fire:

9/24/09 La Cresta (Bear Creek) Fire
As seen from the top of the hill behind our house.

9/24/09 Fire at Bear Creek, from Gil's perspective on his drive home.

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