On our way into Crestline last Sunday we saw a few areas that had been burned from the fires four years ago, but we did not go through the areas where the most recent fires raged for days–and which are actually still smoldering. We are so blessed that from any window in our home, we do not see burned areas–either blackened hillsides or remnants of homes. A short drive away, though, the landscape is littered with such grim relics.
On Monday evening we had dinner with Ken and Nancy and Ken told us of a discussion he had recently had with a firefighter. “The fires came close to taking Crestline. We stopped it just as it came over the ridge, but had we not been able to contain it there, it would have been dreadful.” Crestline sets in a bowl, surrounded by alpine forest. “All we could have done would be to chase it, had it advanced any further,” the fireman told Ken.
We’re thankful that our community was spared, and feel dreadful about those hundreds who lost their homes. All the mountain communities have rallied with benefit dinners, donations and all kinds of support.
The Santa Ana’s were in the forecast when we were home for Thanksgiving, and they did blow to some degree, but worsened yesterday. Now there is another big fire in Malibu, which experts say was caused by human activity, although they have not yet determined whether it was accidental or deliberate. There is well-founded anger in communities such as ours where arsonists are known to have started fires, that I fear for their lives if some people came upon them setting fires. It is a dreadful thing–both the fires and the thought that many of them are deliberately set.
It has upset our wildlife, too, as is seen in the AP photo taken yesterday, for of course much of their habitat has been destroyed. Last week, on the street just below us, a neighbor spotted a bobcat. Although it is known we have a few cats, they are almost never sighted.
AP photo from Malibu fire
My prayers are with the residents of Malibu today.
EDIT: 1:40 PDT MALIBU, Calif., Nov 25 (Reuters) – Firefighters gained the upper hand on Sunday against a fierce wildfire that destroyed 49 homes in the exclusive beachside community of Malibu, where residents were allowed to return and assess the damage.
The fire, which officials said was the worst to strike Malibu in 15 years, was the second there in just over a month. It had lost much of its power with dying Santa Ana winds and was 40 percent contained by Sunday afternoon. The flames no longer threatened homes in the enclave hugging the Pacific Ocean and some firefighters and air support personnel were sent home, though officials said it was too early to declare victory.
EDIT: Monday morning
Nov 26, 6:20 AM (ET)
By THOMAS WATKINS
MALIBU, Calif. (AP) – Favorable weather and an aerial assault helped firefighters make progress against a blaze that destroyed dozens of homes along winding canyon roads, the second major fire here in as many months.
A cool breeze blowing in from the Pacific Ocean kept temperatures low and moisture levels high Sunday, while 30 aircraft repeatedly dropped fire retardant and water that snuffed out most of the flames.
The fire was 70 percent contained after burning more than 4,720 acres. Fire officials said they hope to have the blaze under control by Monday.
My devotional blog is here.