Entirely too close for comfort.

It’s fire season here in CA.  The Carr fire in Redding, and the Mendicino fire NW of here have kept us hemmed in with smoke and ash for the past few weeks.  Until Friday, when (likely) some jackass flipped a cigarette butt out their window along I-80, and started the Nelson fire, between Fairfield and Vacaville.   With the winds predominantly out of the SW here, that means the fire was headed straight across the large grassy area between the two towns… directly toward the house.  I had gotten home and racked out on the couch, only to be awakened a short while later by Kelly, noting that flames were cresting the hills at the end of the road.

This was taken from my driveway, with an 800mm lens.  Not an 8000mm lens like I’d rather be shooting fires with.

CalFire was on it, but the wind wasn’t helping anything.

It’s a bit disconcerting to watch the news chopper circling the fire, then see your neighborhood in the background of the coverage.

For orientation, our house is just to the left of the smoke.

So we loaded the trailer.  And the car. And the truck.  I hauled the generator into the bed of the truck in case we might have to live out of the big trailer (located on Travis AFB at the top RIGHT of the picture above…).  We loaded out dog food, heirloom guns, important paperwork, and then waited to see if we’d go from pre-evac to full mandatory evacuation.  Overall, I’d give us a B on getting stuff together.  It would have been prudent for both of us to know which guns are ‘important’, and it definitely would have been better for all the important papers to actually be inside the fire box in case we didn’t get a chance to grab anything.

Thankfully, once the sun went down, the wind died, and the collective fire efforts of CalFire, Vacaville, and Fairfield managed to get the thing under control.  Embers and dying hotspots persisted, but the fast-moving grass fire was stopped.

The morning after had the neighborhood smelling a bit like a wet ashtray, but finally the skies had cleared up and the smoke from the bigger fires further away had dissipated. Still not quite clear enough for me to ride the motorcycle to work (I made that mistake on Wednesday, and my sinuses paid heavily), but much better.  Only one house was lost, but thankfully no deaths happened.  We can hopefully breathe a bit easier with such a large firebreak already burned out upwind from the neighborhood, but I’ll be glad when winter rains finally get here.

I might try and get a better shot than the wide panorama I took with my phone of where the one house was lost (middle of the fields in the middle of the fire), and will post that in the coming days.  Not a terrible test of our general level of preparedness, but I’d like to have been set up to have done better.  Preparedness is a process, not a product.  We don’t really need more things, we just need to have the stuff we do have arranged so as to be more usable should needs arise.

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