Welcome to California in the summertime.
However, this year, things are getting ugly. This photo was yesterday's sunrise. Taken from my front porch, roughly 80 miles as the crow flies east of the fires. It's raining ash. The afternoon looks somewhat post apocolyptic with dark gray skies, "snowing" in the middle of August, lungs stopping half full and when forced to breathe deep, slowly expand in a burst of pain. Every year when the fires come, we get a few days of "incredible sunsets" and in fact, a view of the hot orange sun straight on filtered by the thick smoke. What is making this year so bad? People.
People who can't get enough information via the news, so they decide to clog roads and take a photo op of their own, making the fire fighters struggle to get around them.
People who are asked to evacuate and always seem to want to stay and fight 100 foot flames with a $24.00 garden hose.
My son has fought those 100 foot flames. He has risked his life to go back into the mouth of hell to pluck a homeowner out of the impending destruction. He has had to choose between letting 5 homes burn or save one stubborn man who refuses to leave. Life always takes precedence, so they go save the one guy and take the heat for 'abandoning the neighborhood' later. He has huddled with his brothers and watched as some of them died on the line in defense of structures and personal property.
If you have been alive since the 70's you have absolutely no excuse for not being prepared.
If you live in an area that has growth, -brush, weeds, or trees- clear your defensible space yearly. If the guys in the white SUVs tell you to prepare for evacuation: PREPARE. When they tell you to go: GO. Do not think that the fire fighters are trying to be the hero, the big shot, the know-it-all authorities and/or that you can beat it yourself. They DO know. They don't just sit around the fire house doing sit ups, they have graduated from Fire Science Academies, they have degrees. They practise daily and excersize every scenario to learn more every day. They understand wind, and heat, and tornados made of flame. They know how fire works, what fuels it, what stops it, and what they cannot stop but must let burn on its' own.
Fire Fighters are a unique breed of people. They love community. They love to serve. They feel their "job" isn't a career, it's a lifestyle, a calling that -even after they retire- they will live each day. Vacations, days off, time spent with family is always looked forward to, however, when the phone rings they will leave a new bride, new babies, dying parents, and RUN to save a stranger's property willingly.
This week two Fire Fighters lost their lives trying to save property. I don't know their names, but I know them. I know how they lived their lives and what kind of people they were.
And I cried like I was thier mother.