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Ash Fall

Posted on October 23, 2007 in Photos Santiago Fire

Check the ends of the articles for updates on the situation.

A rain of fine ash such as this is falling as I write this.

The fire burning down Modjeska Grade, towards Santiago Canyon Road, about a quarter of a mile away.

The burned out area near our home. Distance: less than a quarter mile away.

The hero of the hour, one of a team of water bombers which hit the blaze with everything they had.

My neighbors, including Lynn (talking into cel phone to her mother), watching the fire from the top of the hill.

Out of pity, we let the cats out of the carrier. I’m dreading that we’re going to have to put them back in. The winds have died down, but the fire jumped Santiago Canyon Road last night and is now burning out the heart of Modjeska Canyon. Experts are now saying that it will take from five to fifteen days to extinguish.

The jump into Modjeska Canyon means that the fire has all the wild acreage of the Cleveland National Forest to nosh upon. Miles and miles of greasewood that has been shooting out its roots just for this blaze. Greasewood lives to be burned. Once all the surrounding plants have been eradicated, it will send up shoots and take over territory that had belonged to buckwheat or coyote brush or manzanita. The next time a fire comes through, it will burn faster.

The strategy now — what with every single resource in the state going to every fire — is to let this fire burn over the chaparral — give it a good cleaning out — and make a stand at the houses. This is what happened just a couple of hours ago and is still happening. Bombers have been making pass after pass at fires burning right on the edge of new housing complexes. One conflagration came very close — practically across the street.

Recall the photos I put up yesterday, of that fine, scrubby country on the slopes of Dreaded Hill. That’s all cinder-land, toasted, crispy critters. It was near there that the fire zigzagged backwards into Modjeska Canyon where it is now bringing down the dreams of everyone who just had to have a lovely old oak tree shading their house instead of listening to fire men who pontificated on the necessity of having Clearance. A community is going to be dead now, its constituents scattered to the four winds.

The good news about the blackened hills is that once the fire passes over them, they will not be a threat in the future.

Two OC Sheriffs keeping people out of Concourse Park. In the background you can see burnt-over Whiting Ranch Wilderness. Stands of prickly pears are just about the only plants that have not been obliterated by the fire-storm. Last night people were saying what a tragedy it would be in the short run, but, if the rains are good, how beautiful it will be in the spring.

JUST NOW: My periodontist’s office called, wanting to schedule an appointment. “N, you’ve got to call me back. The fire is a quarter of a mile away and we’re getting ready just in case we need to leave.” Click.

Lynn writes about the fire.

UPDATE: How to evacuate (LA Times)

UPDATE: The condominium complex has started running the sprinklers. Every few minutes one set turns on while the previous one turns off. It’s been going like this all day. The gardeners came through and carted off all the leaves, fallen branches, and other debris from the two days of high winds. I marked where the fire extinguishers are just in case the ash ignites a stray pile.

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