Where There’s Smoke…California Wildfire Report from My Deck

My relaxing sojourn home, in which I envisioned I’d be sipping margaritas from my deck and working on my tan, has taken an interesting and dramatic turn. Yesterday, a wildfire ignited less than ten miles away, and my home has now been transformed into a fire tower. We have an excellent (and disturbing view) of the Telegraph Fire from the back deck as my house stands on the top of Sunshine Hill, which overlooks the Merced River Canyon.

Last night we arrived home at 2:30 am from our field trip to Fresno to see the new Batman movie (Heath Ledger’s creepy and mesmerizing performance was outstanding) to find a Mariposa county search and rescue vehicle in our driveway. The nice person who greeted us briefed us on our pre-evacuation status, reviewed how an evacuation would proceed, and noted we had 3 dogs, 2 cats and 4 fish.

After he left, Shad dusted the ash off his truck and we both felt a bit dazed at the prospect of an inferno engulfing our beloved home. Even at 3:00 am, we walked through the house, took an inventory of items for packing, and formulated a fish evacuation plan (5 gallon bucket with some rocks).

I have to admit to the absolute surreal nature of watching a DC10 fly directly over your house, at a low enough altitude to bend the tops of trees in its wake. I watched the plane this morning drop a few loads of flame retardant on the terrain surrounding the fire; the red substance billowing into the air as if the landscape had just coughed up a billion red flowers.



This afternoon, a fire crew from Kern County, who had traveled down for support, toured our property and gave us some very helpful tips for fire prevention. I’ll be raking pine needles in the 100+ degree heat this afternoon, while Shad will trim some trees. Overall, they pronounced our property in pretty good shape as far as fire prevention measures.

I took photographs of our home and contents for insurance purposes—a very disconcerting experience—but we know that we’ll be able to save what’s really important: the Sunshine Hill Pack of dogs, cats, and fish.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!