Monday, October 22, 2007

It's 'snowing' ash here


This is what Southern California looks like from the air today. From the ground, it's 'snowing ash' all over the place. It feels like back in 2003 when it felt like the whole state was on fire. It's actually not as big (as this point) but the devastation will not end with the fires being put out. Why?
Let me explain California to you. We live in a drought riddled state. We are in the middle of 8 1/2 years of drought conditions where at the beginning of spring/summer, the City of Los Angeles asked residents to limit their showers. (yes, SHOWERS!) I've seen news coverage from the southeastern section of the country and I'm listening to people as they are 'new' to drought conditions. Here, it's a way of life. When I hose off my car (as I was doing last night at midnight to keep the ash off the car) I'll bring it up on my front yard, so the water will do double duty-the run off going to the grass. And I'll do it after the sun goes down to limit the water evaporation. When I water the grass, again it's a slow soak after the sun goes down and only once every other week-if I'm going to water it. It makes the roots dig deeper for water, and uses less water over time. We don't run extra water when brushing teeth, low flow toilets, and don't run extra or half full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher to conserve water. In some cities if you let your sprinklers run longer than needed and you get run off into the street, you can be fined.


Today, we have the effects of Santa Ana winds plus the beetles that have been killing the trees in the mountains for years, plus the drought conditions, plus one more unforgivable issue. At least 1 of the fires....is ARSON! The fire in the Irvine area was declared an arson set fire this morning and now the fire authorities are looking at the Sagus area fire as having suspicious circumstances. In the Lake Arrowhead area (beautiful camping area) where they were hit so very hard back in 2003, there are some estimates that at least 300 homes have been lost, and that will probably go higher according to the helicopter pilots as they fly over the area. San Diego is also burning again.


Now, the cost of this fire, won't be left to the homes lost. Once the areas in the canyons and hills have been burnt, the hill sides then are weakened and during the next spring and summer time when the rains come in, you'll see those areas slide. The vegetation on the sides of the hills won't be deep enough to hold the hills back. So the devastation is a double whammy. And it never fails when the Santa Ana winds blow, some #)#($%)(%& idiot has to go and set fires on purpose!


Where I live, we're safe and away from the fires in the immediate area. However, when you understand the nature of the Santa Ana winds, you'll understand that we aren't totally out of the effects of the fires. This time of year, the winds change direction. Rather than blowing from the Pacific Ocean towards the mountains (as the majority of the year), the blow from the mountains out to the ocean. This causes a lot of health related issues. The smog that has been blown and trapped against the mountains all comes back in this direction. For those of us with Asthma and other lung-related problems, it causes all kinds of troubles breathing. Your eyes burn, your throat hurts, your lungs tighten up, and then you get attacks. When the kids were little, since they're also asthmatic, I wouldn't let them play outside.


As the winds come back through the Santa Ana Canyon, it funnels through, picking up speed and then due to the dry conditions, it's 'fire season'. I've seen whole neighborhoods go up in a matter of a few hours. Power lines are blown down and sparks will ignite the fire. Many homes still have shake shingle roofs, and that's a disaster waiting to happen. With the houses built so close together, you can watch on TV the flames from one house flip to the next one, one after another. Whoever thought of those roofs....ulg...I'll clean it up and say..what a flippin' idiot. Then you have the folks who live on the hill sides, and won't clear the brush from their homes, so you have dried out fuel waiting to burn.

This is one of the reporters from the field today. Notice the goggles and the mask around him. He was wearing them online as he announced that the fire he was covering...was ARSON!


Last night at 11:30pm, I went into the bathroom and saw ash all over the floor and bathtub! The window had been opened all day, and the soot came in and covered everything! Before cleaning it up I grabbed my camera to show the difference. There had been a q-tip that had fallen into the tub. When I picked it up you could see the clean tub underneath it all. I took the picture with and without a flash to see the difference of the stuff that had come through a tiny window throughout the day. When I went to clean up the floor, it was like a mud bath in there. (Makes me think of when Mt. St. Helens blew back in 1980.) Ash all over the place. I went outside and hosed off my car to keep the ash from eating into the paint job. Not a full on wash, as it's going to keep falling for a few days once the fires are out, but it helps to keep the car's finish in better shape. At that point, the ash just rolled down the side of the car.





That's NOT a dirty ring around the tub there-it's where the sides bend towards the bottom of the tub. Can you see the outline of the q-tip? Ash was all over EVERYTHING! I'd put on my flip-flops to go outside, and my feet felt like they were just sliding - yuck. I hate that feeling. Back in 2003 when the fires started, it was 2 days after I'd fallen. I was in bed waking up being covered in ash from my bedroom windows being left opened over night. There was ash all over my whole bed, bookcases and bedroom, my hair, pillow and face. It was disgusting. Yesterday it smelled like a trash pile burning. I hate that smell. In 2003 it smelled like that for a very long time. When the fires start in Southern California with the Santa Ana winds blowing, all that ash has to go somewhere, and it does. Right on top of the rest of us in the path between the fires on it's way to the Pacific Ocean. So, we're all affected by the fires. Even if we haven't lost our homes.

This morning when I woke up I looked out on the back patio. Ash all over the place.


From my patio floor:


The top of my patio table:




the top of the ice chest the girls left out there....




and the fires are still burning! That means..there will be a lot more ash to fall yet. For days. And We are the lucky ones.


It's on top of EVERYTHING! Now, for a moment think of what that will do to your lungs! Yep, it gets into everything. (Another reason to keep your yarn stash in bags and containers.) I hate fire season. It will turn into a big 'ash-bath' covered everything. And next year? It'll be a big mudslide in those fire areas. My heart goes out to those neighborhoods.

Hug your firefighter! They said in the Los Angeles area there were 8,000-9,000 of them working the lines. At least 4 from San Diego have been hurt and are in the hospitals. (Gov...I have a memory...this is why we all fought back so hard when you tried to take money away from the nurses and the firefighters. Don't do it again! and when they need to use their workman's comp to heal from their injuries, are you going to deny/delay them, too? Yep...I'm still here..4 years after falling, 4 years after the fires of 2003....still waiting....oh, and I won my case in court..but I'm still waiting...FIX IT! and don't take it out on the firefighters who are going to need it!)


In knitting news, the sweater is finished, just the hat to go now...



Two more Grandma's favorites knit up yesterday to add to these:


That should be in a box in the next hour to send off to my son and his friends along with these KBB Kitchen Hanging Hand Towels.




If you're in Southern California, close your windows, hose off your cars, but wait until after the fires are out to change your air filters. And if you are one who has lost your home, we send our hearts, love and hugs to you. Stay safe people..and hug your firefighters! They're earning their money this week.

2 comments:

Melanie said...

Wow Cathy, how eloquently said. I am speechless after reading your post and even feeling rather emotional. I pray they get things under control and SOON. I hope you remain out of harm's way. I just found out today that another of my online friends is affected as well. Her son's were evacuated today. Know that I am thinking of you and all who are dealing with this tragedy.
Hugs & Prayers to everyone!

DawnK said...

Yikes. I'm glad your house was okay, but all that ash sounds like such a mess. Ugh. I can't believe people start fires! Those houses are awfully close together! I suppose they are trying to max out how many people they can put in a certain spot.