Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Update to the Update

My slowness to respond to all the deeply appreciated expressions of concern and good thoughts is due to my back issues, rather than personal safety concerns. First, the fire is far enough from us to be comforting. Second, the prevailing winds here come from the west, occasionally north, and the fire is southeast of us. Still, I won't deny that the fire is distracting. (It doesn't help that The Husband's surgery happens this week. He is in LA today for a consult with the surgeon.) The Bakersfield radio and TV stations have begun to cover the blaze and it is difficult to put it completely out of one's my mind.

Even though this doesn't begin to compare in scale to the devastation in central Texas, it remains a concern for the community. Over 13,000 acres have now been consumed, a dozen homes have been destroyed, and 650 homes are threatened. Over a thousand firefighters are on the job now and the latest report says they have it only 10% under control. Not very encouraging. We are constantly being reminded in one way or another how little control we have over our environment and when it is even this close, it does tend to get one's attention.

Paul Lester asked about causes. There are dozens, but mostly it comes down to the conditions in which the fires start. The major factors are thousands of miles of kindling in the form of dry underbrush, extremely low humidity, and fierce winds. It is a recipe for disaster. As I mentioned a couple of days ago the winter and spring rains produced the kindling. Then, on the day the fire started, the humidity was a scant 25%. (You may remember I have mentioned that the Tehachapi Mountains sit at the edge of the Mojave Desert). As for the winds, they are a constant.

Steve Skinner would know far more about this than I, but the conditions are daunting for the firefighters. Steep, rocky terrain; erratic winds; low humidity; high temperatures; a seemingly endless supply of fuel; near impossible access. Steve could certainly add more that I have overlooked.

The fires are begun in almost any way you can imagine: lightning strikes; sparks from vehicles or tools; carelessness in hay-filled barns; stoves, lanterns and candles; campfires; plane crashes; and, of course in some cases, arson. Once again, Steve could point out how incomplete my list is. But the most important factor is conditions that are "ideal" for an out of control blaze.

My sincere thanks to all who left kind comments wishing us the best. I appreciate the concern and good thoughts. I have hopes of being able to work at the desktop this afternoon so I can soon publish a "proper" post with a photograph. For the moment, however, forget the pajama blogger business—I am president of the "rocking chair brigade".


  1. The news of the fires has hit our national press today with the quote "This is unprecedented fire behaviour. No one on the face of this Earth has ever fought fires in these extreme conditions". That must be very, very frightening for all concerned. People love to complain about the weather in the UK but in many ways it's a blessing as we don't tend to have natural disasters on such enormous scales.

  2. Yes, things are pretty bad in Texas now. I almost relocated very near this area a few years ago. You need not apologize for the blog responses, nor about not posting a photo. The most important thing is to take care of yourself and the things closest to you and be assured that your fan base will wait for you. Here's hoping the Husband has a speedy recovery and the fires burn themselves out without too much devastation.

  3. Anita, So happy to hear that all ended well for you folks!! You described the concept of wildfire most accurately; much better than some professional firefighter I know.

  4. Stay safe, and good luck with your husbands surgery. What a stressful time you must be going through.

  5. Oh, I have missed out completely on this wildfire, apparently not far from your home. It might come with the beauty of your landscape. The nature, when in control, out-powers man by lengths. It' no comfort in this, but I would like to think there is something good behind everything. What I'm saying is that we can't trust air planes not to crash, but we can live our life as conscious as possible and by taking care. I'm happy you were not threatened by this fire, Anita. Stay well!

  6. Colin - I had never thought about it, but you don't have so many of these violent natural disasters. Maybe that so-called lousy weather is worth it. Besides, the humidity is very healthy for one's skin. Women! Always thinking about the trivial. :-)

    I didn't know that the fires had made your news. I would guess the stories focused on the fires in Texas where the devastation has been rather epic in nature. I think this local fire left 27 families homeless, but the most recent ones In central Texas have claimed hundreds of people's homes.

  7. Ken - Thank for all the kind words. We almost moved to an area north of Austin, but still many miles from the Bastrop location. The Husband chickened out on me at the last minute.

    At one point, the firefighters numbered over 2000, but they got the job done and a day earlier than they had hoped. That is a job well done.

    We are taking care, thank you, and doing okay.

  8. Steve - Thank you for your reassurance. I was self-conscious about answering questions. I have no personal friends or family who have been in your line of work, but if you have lived in california very long-and don't have your head in the sand, you pick up some facts about our wildfires. I appreciate knowing that I didn't make a total fool of myself. Thanks for the good thoughts.

  9. Roberta - I just keep thinking, "how like real life". Ups and downs, stress and relief. Life has its rhythms. Thank you for thinking of me.

  10. Ove -You are so right. Everything in life comes at a price. We all want it all-as well as wrapped in the finest silk and served on a shiny, silver platter. But those are the dreams of children. Easy for me to say, in this case, since this cost us only anxiety—a cheap price by any measure; but, I think it has to be a part of our life view. We make choices and each has a price tag attached. I always appreciate hearing your thoughts.


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