Southern California is on fire. No, really. Serious fire. So much fire that the news crews have stopped referring to the Sylmar fire, the Yorba Linda fire, the Santa Barbara fire, and have started referring to the “Southern California Firestorms.”
The Santa Ana winds have been hellacious all weekend. They blow off the desert, the hot wind providing the perfect opportunity for fires to start. It was 90F degrees here on Saturday.
This post is image-heavy, so the rest is behind the cut.
The first fire started late last week, in Santa Barbara. The Santa Ana winds kicked up, along with the usual Santa Barbara “Sundowner” winds that always blow hard in the late afternoon and early evening. It was devastating:
The second one started Friday night around 10:30, in Sylmar, about 20 minutes from my house. The winds blew all night, never dropping below 25 miles per hour, sometimes gusting up to 80mph. Luckily for me, the wind was blowing the fire AWAY from my house, so I was never in danger; we never had to evacuate.
The fire in Sylmar moved so fast that several people barely got out with their lives. One guy on the news said that he waited to evacuate until he could see flames on a far ridge, figuring he’d have time to get to his car and get out. But he didn’t account for the winds. He saw the flames from his upstairs window on Saturday morning, went downstairs, straight to his already-packed car, got in, started the engine, and backed out of the garage. By the time he got to the end of his driveway, the back of his house was catching fire. He barely made it out alive, and there were several stories like that.
The Sylmar fire is 40% contained as I write this. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but here in SoCal it basically means the battle has been won. The outcome is fairly certain, barring the return of the Santa Ana winds (which died late Sunday morning).
The whole world seemed to be on fire this weekend:
In a different area (Orange County), another fire started on Saturday afternoon. By Sunday, it was just as big as the Sylmar and Santa Barbara fires:
Twenty-six thousand people were evacuated from the Orange County fire. Hundreds of homes were burned.
If you believe in God, pray for California, for the folks who have lost their homes, for those who have evacuated and are still waiting to hear if their homes are safe.
The latest statistics for all three fires combined:
35,662 acres burned
894 homes and structures destroyed
38 firefighters and civilans injured
Burn, baby, burn.