Friday, May 16, 2014

Carlsbad Fires

I've lived in California long enough to understand fire season (which typically takes place in October) and the dangers Santa Ana winds pose to the rapid spread of fires. We had very little rain this past winter and this week Carlsbad got hit with fires along with seven other towns in close proximity. All on the same day. Which by the end of Wednesday as new fires kept starting within a 5-10 mile radius seemed slightly suspect.

The Carlsbad fire started within 1/2 mile from my office and quickly spread across an entire hillside into an area filled with homes. Watching this unfold while texting friends and family to make sure they were evacuated left me feeling fairly helpless.

View from my office Wednesday around 10:30am
Less than 30 minutes later the fire had crossed a major road fueled by 30mph winds.
The field across from my office was used for helicopters.
I was impressed with the City of Carlsbad's response time. Within 30 minutes three helicopters were working the fire, pulling water out of a local golf course pond to dump on the flames. By the afternoon a DC10 plane had been brought in to drop flame retardant on the fire. Which was good because about the time the Carlsbad fire was somewhat under control, the San Marcos fire broke out about 10 miles away.

San Marcos fire Wednesday evening.
The roads re-opened today and I ventured out on my bike to see the damage. After viewing all the burned areas I'm amazed that only 8 homes and one large business complex were lost. The fire took anything but a straight path and it surrounded a huge number of houses, yet most are still standing, unharmed.

The Carlsbad fires are contained at this point, neighboring town fires are not. In the distance of this photo you can see the Camp Pendleton fire. As I rode around today I passed 15 fire trucks - all from far away places including Yuma, Northern California and anywhere but Carlsbad. I wanted to hug all of them and say thank you. It was overwhelming to see how many firefighters drove their trucks through the night to help our town. I realize this is what they do - but when your own home town is affected it really hits you how amazing this is.

Firefighters combing the hillside watching for hotspots that might still flare up.

One of the houses that was lost.
Events like the fires this week put life into perspective. I am grateful friends and family are safe and I still have a bed to sleep in. My heart is sad that many families lost their homes. A huge thank you to the firefighters who worked in 100 degree heat for multiple days to save as much as they could of our town.

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