Amanda woke me up this morning at 3:00. The fire that has been ravaging San Diego County for the past 26 hours has grown, and new ones have started up. On the news, Jerry Sanders, the Mayor of San Diego, is saying this looks like it will be the worst fire in the county's history, surpassing the 2003 Cedar fire that destroyed over 2000 homes.
The 15 highway, a major artery that goes to LA and then on to Vegas, is closed for (what I’m guessing from the reports) at least a 10-mile stretch. Wind gusts are being clocked regularly in the 50s, and as high as 69 MPH. Fixed wing aircraft that could combat the fire are grounded because of the winds. One of San Diego’s most famous tourist destinations, the Wild Animal Park, is being evacuated.
The mayor has announced a mandatory evacuation for the area north of highway 56 and between the 5 and 15. That area has enjoyed a huge housing boom over the last decade, thousands of homes have been built there, and many now lie in the path of the fire. My good friend claudia, one of a half dozen people who called to offer us shelter this morning, just told me she is heading home from work because the fire is now moving in her direction. No panic, just preparing in case they have to leave.
So far we've been lucky. 4000 homes in San Marcos, our town, have been evacuated, including a couple occupied by friends. I don’t believe any have burned. As of right now the fire is not coming closer to us; we've gotten no reverse 911 call that instructs residents to get out fast. The smoke is getting closer but the news says the fire in our area has "calmed down.” We've packed up important papers, photo albums, artwork, external hard-drive, trying to figure out what are the most important to us. It's a very slow Sophie's Choice, picking out what we love and need the most. One I hope we don’t have to make.
The view from our front yard