One October 22nd, a dozen Orange County firefighters had to use their emergency shelters to survive the Santiago fire. The LA Times has put together a nice piece using some incredible photography and the actual radio calls to recount the event. While I am not a firefighter, I do know that deploying shelters is an absolute last resort. It means you can not get out of the way of the fire and often results in serious thermal burns or worse. These guys were incredibly lucky. Find it here. (Make sure to have your audio up.)
As I mentioned earlier, it has been a disastrous week here in Southern California. We are fortunate that the fires have not directly affected us here in Newport Beach, but you can not escape their effect for even a moment. Ash is everywhere, kids are kept inside at school during recess, activities are cancelled across the county and the smell of smoke is everywhere. You get used to the orange hue of the daytime sun though it is just now starting to abate.
The firefighters have done an amazing job! While there are fires up and down the southern part of our state, it is hard to believe that someone is sick enough to have deliberately started the fire that our county is dealing with. I have a long time friend, Brian Schraff, who has spent the whole week in touch-and-go status regarding his house. He is one of the people whose home is up in the Santiango Canyon area where “next door neighbor” means a half mile away. Brian has been keeping us updated all week regarding his status. It has gone back and forth between safe and almost certain doom, literally, with the direction of the wind. Fortunately, it looks like the threat to his home is over, though it got as bad as a mandatory evacuation order delivered from firefighters who stationed a truck in his driveway to ward off flames. A lot has been said about the efforts of our firefighters, here is an excerpt from an email Brian sent out yesterday:
Seeing the way the fire departments from all over California fight fires, I honestly think it would take a mind blowing firestorm for them to lose a house. These guys love the challenge of winning. When they came up to my house it was â€œGame Onâ€. I watched them save a house yesterday surrounded 340 degrees by fire and they were bummed out that they lost a wooden shed. Anyone saying they are standing around watching, or not committed to saving houses… are definitely not watching the same fireman I am blessed to have been talking to and watching.
Glad to hear all is well with Brian and a big thank you to the courageous men and woman of the both the local fire departments and Cal Fire.