WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Everything must go

A little too close to home. The Caldor fire, I mean, just about thirty miles away from me as the crow flies. This thing exploded from a couple thousand acres to more than 117,000 in just a week, and it’s already destroyed over 600 structures. Close to 18,000 structures are threatened. Because there’s so much dry fuel on the ground, this fire has the potential to continue growing, with extreme behavior firefighters say they’ve never seen before.

My wife and I have done some hiking in that area, and from the map we can see that the entire trail system has burned up. Not to mention a lot of nearby homes nestled in wooded lots. As a matter of fact, back in 2011 when we were looking to build a house, we considered three different parcels in the area, all of which are currently at risk of burning. Another parcel we looked at was burned in the River fire near Colfax a few weeks ago. And then, of course, there’s my father’s old place outside of Oroville, which was destroyed last year.

Frankly, it feels like we’re living on borrowed time up here in the foothills. But climate change is an equal-opportunity menace. At least twenty-one people just died in Tennessee flooding. Hurricanes threaten the east coast at a more rapid cadence than ever before. Extreme weather events, like Pacific northwest heat waves, are occurring on a regular basis.

Yet there’s something about the possibility that your home could burn down that causes a special kind of anxiety. You have a chance to consider what you’ll try to save. There’s time to prepare, so that when the evacuation call comes you grab n’ go. Even when a fire is thirty miles away, the smoke in the air every day reminds you that the next one could force you out. We probably stand a better chance than a lot of residents because we have a fire station a mile away and a fire hydrant just a hundred feet from the house. There’s also a well-developed network of fire roads in the area, giving firefighters access to places that can’t be reached down in the Caldor zone. At least there’s a little room for hope here.

This is all happening about two months early though. Instead of one more month of worrying, we have three, and in that time there’s no doubt the power will be shut off a few times and incidents will occur even closer than this one.

There’s just one thing to do at times like this: Hope for early rain.

[Photo by Marcus Kauffman on Unsplash.]

12 comments on “Everything must go

  1. Pamela Beckford
    August 25, 2021

    Yikes – stay safe

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 25, 2021

      Thanks, Pamela. Fortunately, we’re far enough away that the wind patterns won’t push this thing our in our direction, though the smoke is a daily problem. I hope they get a handle on it before it creeps up toward Lake Tahoe!

  2. Marie A Bailey
    August 25, 2021

    I was reading about the Caldor fire last night and felt alarmed that it would be heading your way. Maybe you and Sue should take a vacation far, far away for awhile. Take the cat with you 😉

    Another aspect of wildfires on the West Coast is how fast they move. Hurricanes can move fast too, but I feel like we on the East Coast generally have more time to get our shit together and go then you all out West. And then there’s the air quality.

    Stay safe, Kevin. I hope you don’t have to evacuate, and I hope it rains (no lightening, no thunder) soon.

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 25, 2021

      These fires are scary because they double and triple in size real quick. Right now the Caldor is big at 122,000 acres this morning, while the Dixie is pushing 800,000! Apocalypse … NOW!

  3. kingmidget
    August 25, 2021

    My brother’s neighborhood was evacuated the first day the Caldor Fire blew up. It’s now been a week and he’s been told they likely won’t be able to go back in for a couple more weeks, but so far his neighiborhood hasn’t been touched by the fire.. His neighbors have heard that there have already been looters, some of whom have been caught.

    I couldn’t live up there with this going on every year. Stay safe.

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 25, 2021

      I’ve been thinking about your brother and was worried when I saw how much of Grizzly Flats was hit. Good luck to him and his family!

      • kingmidget
        August 25, 2021

        He lives a few miles from Grizzly Flats. If the fire had gone to the west of Jenkinson Lake instead of to the east, his house would have been toast.

  4. pinklightsabre
    August 25, 2021

    Yuck, and you’re right (I imagine) it must be a special kind of anxiety to have to worry like that. I went there myself recently, imagining what we’d take if we had to evacuate. It’s just nuts to have to live like that. I hope you two are resigned to stay there with some peace, re: the fire station and hydrant nearby, but I wish you didn’t have this recurring thing every year. That’s one heck of a photo too, by the way.

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 25, 2021

      Just think of all the LPs you’d like to save. You get to a certain age, and you’re pretty fond of a lot of dumb objects nobody else would think are worth saving. In a rush, though, it’s humans and animals that get to the front of the line. 😉

      • pinklightsabre
        August 25, 2021

        Humans, animals and jewelry.

      • Kevin Brennan
        August 25, 2021

        Ha! Maybe one guitar too …

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This entry was posted on August 25, 2021 by in Et alia and tagged , .
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