September 20, 2007

Fire on the mountain

So we're driving up to the cabin at dusk on Friday and my cousin says, "Is that smoke?"

Me: "Nah --- it's just a cloud."

[Snow Valley, 10 minutes later] Cousin: "Hey, look! Firefighters!"

[Artic Circle, a few minutes after that] Me: "Oh. my. god."
[fire is burning down the ridge above us] Me: !#$&*! Eep!
Cousin: "I'll look -- you drive."
So we race to the dam with flames red-orange on top of the ridge, and the wind is blowing NE and NW and the fire is roaring towards Fawnskin on the north shore, and on the south side of the lake you can't even smell smoke. (Yet.) Our cabin is south of the lake.
Years of drought, forests dry as tinder, and I'll be damned if some chucklehead didn't [allegedly] set the whole thing off with an illegal campfire. Good work, Einstein! Most of the north shore was placed under mandatory evacuation. 2,500 firefighters were on the lines, and at one point helitankers were filling up by the dam every thirty seconds. You could see the smoke as far away as Utah. Tonight an unusual storm system is expected to drop snow to 5,500 feet, which is great for reducing fire danger but very bad for cabin pipes. It hasn't been what you'd call a restful week.
I took the first three photos from the south shore of Big Bear Lake, near the Stanfield Cutoff. (A tanker crash-landed there Monday.) The fourth photo was taken from the base of Snow Summit, and the last photo was taken looking north from Meadow Park. Click on the photos for larger views.

Fire links, I got 'em:
The super-fantastic folks at --- tons of coverage, frequent updates, and locals providing photos and running commentary.
National Weather Service.
The Big Bear Grizzly.

From the scanner:
12:11 PMWed 9/19
air to Groveland 4C - they sent us out here to drop water for you; {response} if you can see where that helicopter is dropping that sling load; we're on the east side of Division A; keep coming and I'll give you a mirror flash
12:13 PMWed 9/19
{Groveland to air} drop in the interior there along that string of manzanitas, over by the rocks; {air to Groveland} you're clear if I drop; {Groveland to air} all clear
12:17 PMWed 9/19
Groveland to air - don't know how you feel about getting a little lower; air to Groveland - "aw I can get in there and spank it for ya"
You firefighting guys and gals are the best, you know that? We love you tons. Thank you!

Big thanks to: the U.S. Forest Service, CalFire/California Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, National Parks Service, Nevada Department of Forestry, the Texas Forest Service, and the local fire departments of Alameda, Alhambra, Anaheim, Aptos La Selva, Atascadero, Atwater, Arroyo Grande, Bakersfield, Ben Lomond, Bennett Valley, Big Bear City, Big Bear Lake, Branciforte, Burbank, Butte County, Carpinteria-Summerland, CDF Santa Clara Ranger Unit, Channel Islands, Chico, Chino Valley, Cloverdale, Clovis, Colton, Colorado Springs, Compton, Consumnes, Corona, Diamond Springs-El Dorado, Dinuba, Downey, East Bay Regional Park District, El Cerrito, El Dorado Consolidated, El Dorado Hills, Fairfield, Felton, Folsom, Fort Hunter Liggett, Fresno City, Fresno Consolidated, Fresno County, Garden Grove, Georgetown, Gilroy, Glendale, Grass Valley, Graton, Hollister, Huntington Beach, Kentfield, Kern County, Kings County, Laguna Beach, Lake Valley, Larkspur, Lawrence Livermore, Laverne, Linda, Livermore-Pleasanton, Loma Linda, Lompoc, Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County, Madera County, Manteca, March Air Reserve Base, Marin Wood, Merced City, Merced County, Mill Valley, Montclair, Montebello, Montecito, Monterey Park, Monte Rio, Montezuma-Solano County, Moraga-Orinda, Morro Bay, Murrieta, Newport Beach, North County-Monterey, Novato, Oakland, Ontario, Orange City, Orange County, Orcutt, Pacific Grove, Parks RFTA, Pasadena, Paso Robles, Pechanga, Pioneer, Pismo Beach, Porterville, Quincy, Rancho Cucamonga, Red Bluff, Redding, Redlands, Rescue, Riverside City, Rohnert Park, Ross Valley, Sacramento City, Sacramento Metropolitan, Salinas, San Bernardino City, San Bernardino County, San Gabriel, Sanger, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo City, San Luis Obispo County, San Mateo, San Miguel, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara City, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clara, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Maria, Santa Paula, Scotts Valley, Shasta County, South Pasadena, South Placer, Stanislaus City, Suisun City, Susanville, Tehama County, Templeton, Tiburon, Tracy, Tulare, Tulare Consolidated, Two Rock Coast Guard, UC Davis, Union City, Upland, Vacaville, Ventura City, Ventura County, Vernon, West Covina, Winters, Yuba City and Zayante, in addition to invaluable help from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, the California Highway Patrol, CalTrans, the Big Bear Lake Municipal Water District, the Big Bear Area Regional Wastewater Agency, the American Red Cross and the California Department of Fish and Game.

100% containment tonight. Un-frikkin'-believable work. Thanks, all!

1 comment:

FrogDogz said...

Glad you're all ok, and the fire contained. It's been bad year here as well for fires, but nothing on this scale!