All figures updated as of 5 p.m. PST on Tuesday, Oct. 23
A follow-up blog–written today, Thursday, Oct. 25–is here.
As you probably know, much of Southern California is burning. San Diego (where I live) sure is. The fire has so far consumed some 250,000 acres in the mountains and rural areas immediately east of the city proper. It’s pretty effectively shut down the whole city. Highways and main roads throughout the county are closed. 1,250 homes have been destroyed or damaged. 500,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes. Qualcomm Stadium (where the San Diego Chargers play) is now/still an evacuation center — one of many throughout the county. (About 10,000 people are now living outside at Qualcomm stadium. Amazing.) No one’s supposed to go outdoors–or even use their cell phones, if they can help it. Just about every government employee who can move has been called in to help fight the fire.
And it’s [still] going to get worse before it gets better, because what’s [still] fueling the fires (what started Sunday as 10 or more fires have now become two, named the Witch Creek Fire and the Harris Fire) are the mighty Santa Ana winds, which are [still] these huge, hot, ferocious winds that sometimes sweep through Southern California and wreak all kinds of havoc with the temperature and people’s allergies and so on. They’re nasty. And they’re going to keep blowing for a couple of days. And that’s … well, how you keep a fire going.
I live on the coast, about half a mile from the beach. Our air here is usually as clean as it is anywhere in San Diego. But now the sun is completely blocked by the smoke: it’s just a dark pink ball you can stare right at. Everything is covered by a layer of grey soot: it’s basically snowing fine ash. The air is so thick with ash it muffles sound, so outside the air has that heavy quietness that comes with snowfall.
Everything’s pale with ash. The light is this eeerie grey-red. Nobody’s outside. If we go outside, we’re supposed to wear breathing masks. [Which the drugstore was out of. So I was forced to buy some Haagan-Das ice cream bars instead.]
My wife Cat and I woke up this morning to learn that we now live within an Advisory Evacuation area, meaning we dang sure better get ready to evacuate our place. But to where? The end of the land is a bicycle drive away.
So we’ve now got tote bags jammed with Evacuation Vitals waiting by our door. Change of clothes. Water. Flashlights. Box of Vanilla Wafers. We’re set. [Update: Evacuation line getting closer. Not good, because I’ve already munched pretty heavily on some of our evacuation supply food, which we had to buy at a drug store so it’s all canned peanuts, and dried fruit, and Wheat Thins, and how am I supposed to stay cooped up inside this place for two days without at least nibbling on our Emergency Vanilla Wafers?]
When the end of the world comes, it’s hard to imagine that it won’t look, feel, and smell just like this.