Last Monday the large house that sits across the street and up the hill caught on fire and I didn't even notice. I came home that afternoon and saw fire trucks, ambulances, and other vehicles in their yard, but there was no fire or damage that I could see. I didn't smell smoke, which one would think would linger. There were a number of people wandering about, some in fire gear, but there was no sense of urgency in the scene. It had the look of an emergency but not the feel of one. I called Bruce and described what I saw and he thought it might have been a medical emergency and perhaps extra personnel came along for training. As we have never met the people in the house, I decided not to go there to find out what had happened. In retrospect, I'm rather amazed by my appalling lack of curiosity. Eventually the fire crews and other people got in their trucks and drove away. The driver of one firetruck saw me in the driveway (I was weeding as I kept an eye on things) and gave me a friendly wave and tootle of his horn as he passed.
On Friday, when Jonathan and Joseph stopped by, they told us that, yes, there had indeed been a fire at that house. It had started at noon in their attic but the fire crew had it completely out by the time I got home at four. The flames had burnt through places in the roof, but on the opposite side of the house from where I was. When I checked back online, there was information on it, including the fact that a full complement of air and land units was sent due to the extreme dryness of the vegetation and because our residential area backs up to wildland. One spark, blown on the wind, had the potential to set the entire hillside on fire.
Which is why when Jonathan and Joseph offered to work for us again, we asked if they could come the very next day to help load and haul away more branches and dead grass. They did this, and came again today to finish clearing the dry litter and grass from the pad our house sits on. They'll be back again on Wednesday -- this time to finish clearing dead grass from the sides of our driveway (and also hunt a few gophers while they're at it).
The threat of fire is with us every day. Coming home from shopping yesterday, we reached the highway that leads to our home, and over the hills a thick plume of smoke drifted upwards. From a distance it was hard to tell where it was coming from, but as we drove closer we determined that it was to the east of us. Now we know that this fire is about 40 miles away, towards Yosemite and has already consumed over 7,000 acres. As of the last report, there is zero containment.
|The Detwiler Fire from Gopher Ridge|
Today, the wind is blowing the smoke west over our hills and my eyes sting. Every summer seems to be worse than the one before. I'll admit that I'm becoming tired of this worry that hangs over me. I dream of rain and greenness... but rain and greenness will come again. And, lucky us; the reinforcements have arrived!
|Our two young heroes after clearing the hillside today|