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The Shock and Awe of California Wildfires

 

 

‘We can’t stop it’

Officials all but concede defeat to wildfires as estimated 1 million evacuate

California wildfirePicture and headline from MSNBC Wednesday morning

“It’s like a bomb went off. It’s like shock and awe. It is shock and awe,” says Kim Wurm.

From her home, she spoke of the fires in the mountain areas of Running Springs and Lake Arrowhead where more than 200 homes have burned. Picture from LATimes

I’m taking this moment to honor the brave heroes of the hour: our firefighters. Because of them my home and the homes of my sons and my daughter are still standing. Because of them my irreplaceable pictures are intact, my important documents preserved, my old books and treasured items from our 51 years of marriage are safe. I salute their raw courage, their valor, their strength and commitment. I pray for renewed energy for them today as they continue the fight against these horrendous fires.

Edit Wednesday 8:15 am: It is reported that exhausted firemen are throwing down sleeping bags on the lawns of homes to get rest. God bless them and renew their strength.

Edit Wednesday 10:20 am: sw@line6.com says: The signal at my
folk’s house was strong, which they said is a very good sign that the house is still standing. If you are interested in checking your lines
call Verizon repair at 800 483 1000.

Edit 5:00 pm Wednesday Mountain Area Update

Note: Crestline is in the Grass Fire Area, still not contained at all, although the winds have shifted, and our home at this point is safe.

Update 4:30 PM

As of 4 PM, fire officials report that the Grass Fire is 30% contained and the Slide Fire is still at 0%. The Grass Fire has burned about 1,000 acres and was primarily burning within its perimeter today with little expansion. The Slide Fire continues to grow and has burned just over 10,000 acres. A volunteer firefighter who fought the blaze in Green Valley Lake and Running Springs said that for every one house there were unable to save, firefighters managed to save five. The fire has burned down Highway 330 to near the middle passing lane and 1N09.

A number of residents have been reportedly hiking up to reach the mountain communities or trying to use unauthorized roads. Please remember that this is a dangerous fire and can change rapidly. In 2003, a resident died while trying to hike up from Silverwood Lake after falling into a ravine. Please give law enforcement and fire officials the time and space to ensure safety and protect property.

Report from the Crestline, Lake Arrowhead area

Fire Operations Enters Second Night

Update 2:45 AMFire operations have entered a second night after a devastating two days for the mountain communities. Best estimates indicate that at least 300 homes have been destroyed between Green Valley Lake and Twin Peaks, with the greatest loss of property in the Running Springs area today. Mixed reports of homes and businesses lost have frustrated and confused residents and business-owners. Meanwhile, the fire continues to threaten and destroy homes and businesses.

While firefighters are risking their lives trying to save homes, there have been dozens of reports of looters across the mountains. Deputies have not been able to confirm many of the reports, but there have been some arrests. Even worse, authorities made an arrest of a motorcyclist who was allegedly witnessed trying to start an arson fire near Camp Seely on Tuesday evening.On Tuesday evening the Slide Fire advanced through much of the Rowco neighborhood of Running Springs, as well as Fredalba and Smiley Park. The fire reached as far east as Mount R and westward to between Heaps Peak and Nob Hill. Reports of structures lost poured into dispatchers as strained resources were rendered helpless.

Edit: 7:30 am Fox News just reported that 400 homes in this area have now been lost. A suspected arsonist has just been arrested.

Edit: 10:45 am

According to John Miller of the US Forest Service, the westward advance of the Slide Fire stalled overnight. Flames got as far west as Heaps Peak between the waste transfer station and the radio towers. The front to the south of Green Valley Lake has moved toward Highway 18 and Snow Valley. It was less than 1/4 mile from the highway.

In the Running Springs area, catastrophic fire activity burned through Fredalba and Smiley Park with widespread losses. The fire burned along the southern edge of Running Springs, eastward, to the Rimwood Ranch area.

With an evergrowing air force of fixed wing, rotary wing, and jet tankers, fire officials are gearing up for a massive assault. Miller stated that super scooper aircraft and other resources are being moved into California from other states and Canada.

Picture of firemen in our area Courtesy of LATimes

This DC 10 is used to drop water onto the fires in the San Bernardino Mountains.

The skies over Crestline and the other mountain areas are a constant roar as these helicopters fly over, drop water, then return to Lake Gregory to suck up more water.

Pictures of planes from Ray’s public gallery.

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Massive Fires Continue to Scorch Southern California

Edit: 1:35 pm On a rimoftheworld Google group, I saw that G Walters at 12:17 pm wrote:

“From Lake Gregory parking lot, the fire has made it halfway down the ridge.”

This is disappointing news for were we looking through our living room glass, we would see those flames. It is not far from our home.

Edit: 3:50 pm  On another rimoftheworld Google Group, at 2:12 DrHethc posted more encouraging news:

“The local fire departments and some from Rancho and Upland are fighting very hard in this area and feel that they will save Crestline! Do not give up hope and do not listen and believe everything you hear in the news. Our firefighters are going to save our town and your homes.”

I believe it!

Overnight the situation has worsened in southern California. Yesterday, I wrote about our area being threatened, and now evacuation is mandatory in our home town of Crestline. The devilish Santa Ana Winds continue to rage. California is scorched from the Mexico border to Santa Barbara, nearly 100 miles north of Los Angeles. Rimoftheworld.net is a site where all the mountain communities blog, communicate, advertise etc. Now the site is down, except to post emergency and fire updates. I’ve posted some information from that source.

The national guard has been called in and President Bush has declared the area a disaster area. There are reports of looting, and possibly arsonists. Observers have described the scene as, “Armageddon, The End of the World, Nuclear Winter.” All residents of the area are encouraged to stay home, off the freeways, and to refrain from using cell phones as much as possible. All schools in the mountains are closed, as are many others.

Qualcomm in San Diego is making a plea for donations to house and feed those who have taken refuge in that stadium. Ten thousand people are reported to be sheltered there.

My family, friends and neighbors are safe, although many of them have been forced to leave their homes.

7:45 Edit Jerry just talked with our son Steve who flew into the San Diego airport at 11:00 last evening. He and Dearrah were up all night and have their truck packed with valuables and documents in case they must be evacuated. Parts of their area, Bonita, has been evacuated. Some of the people in their church have had to leave their homes, and are using the church as a shelter.

8:00 Edit Melina’s mom is scheduled for cancer surgery this morning in San Bernardino. Originally Mike was going to fly him and Mel over, but could not because of the winds, so they had planned to drive this morning. Mel’s parents called and encouraged them not to try to go over, for the roads are absolutely jammed and dangerous. Mel’s mom has not even been able to make it to the hospital herself. It’s still all up in the air. Mike and Mel are still here in Lake Havasu waiting for word from her parents.

Emergency Center

Mandatory evacuations are now in effect for Crestline, Twin Peaks, North Lake Arrowhead, Crest Park, Skyforest, Rimforest, Running Springs, Arrowbear Lake, and Green Valley Lake. Voluntary evacuations are in effect for Cedar Glen, South Lake Arrowhead, Valley of Enchantment and Cedarpines Park.

Fire Has Reportedly Jumped Highway 330 In Running Springs

Update 6:50 AMLake Arrowhead – As water pressure dropped and the fire approachd Grass Valley late Monday, firefighters struggled to keep up with the flames as the water system failed multiple times. One resident remained along Sonoma Drive and managed to save his home and a few neighboring homes by extinguishing spot fires with a shovel. However, many homes along Sonoma Drive burned, especially along the northern end near Del Norte, according to an email. Firefighters are making their way back into the community and assessing the damage and their options, according to secondhand reports.

The fire has jumped to the south and west of Highway 330 just below Live Oak Drive in Running Springs, according to the CHP. Meanwhile spot fires and flare ups may have endangered more homes in the Grass Valley area as crews struggle to rescue horses. Law enforcement officials are still receiving reports of a suspicious white pickup truck with 10 to 15 Hispanic males in the truck bed. There have been several reports of open doors in the area.

What are Santa Ana Winds?