Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
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.