Packing for the End

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Sierra Highway, heading toward Crown Valley Road to fill the car and SUV up with gas. 

We were put on high alert for evacuation from the Sand Fire on Sunday, July 24. I started casually gathering the important papers–passports, birth certificates, insurance papers–around midday. We gassed up both of the vehicles.

There had been more and more smoke in the air for a day. When charred live oak leaves landed in the yard it felt like the situation suddenly became more serious.

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I like this shot against the yellow sky.  Even if it is, you know, McDonald’s.

We saw lots of people driving around with horse trailers, either taking animals out or going in to help neighbors evacuate.

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Taken just before we left. The sky was not the right color.

We got the reverse 911 call around 5 pm. Decided not to take the camper, which was a real relief. Very weird to pack up not knowing what the next hours and days might hold. A friend of ours lost his house and everything in it in a wildfire in Lake Isabella just a few weeks ago. We were pretty far from the fire line, but… As we left, three LA County Sheriffs vehicles entered our neighborhood to go door to door telling people to leave. There’s only one road out of our community of 154 homes.

We were really moved by the emails, texts and phone calls from our friends offering us a place to stay!  Thank you, thank you!

The 14 freeway was closed from where it begins at the 5 all the way to Avenue N in Lancaster. That’s about 40 miles of freeway out of commission. The fire was moving in three directions at once, switching back on itself. If grew by 10,000 acres a day the first three days.

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It was so strange to drive past the point at which they were turning people back on Sierra Highway as we headed to the 138 and our friends Don and Jean’s house. There was no going back.

We were so lucky to have a room and space to store the guitars, computers, a couple of suitcases and our flock. Don even had a table set up to put the bird cages on when we arrived!  I had a nice place to work in Jean’s office on Monday.

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We stopped just past the 18 and took some photos. That smoke represents so much destroyed habitat. Just wrenching.

I also have some photos I shot of our somewhat messy house. Just shots of the rooms in case we didn’t get to come back. Which of course we did, a couple of days later. The evacuation was lifted late Monday evening, but we didn’t make the hour drive home until Tuesday morning.

It was so good to come back home. There was a lot of ash in the yard, and it was still smokey, but not like the day we left. Soledad Canyon Road was closed from downtown Acton to the west, and the park was closed as they’d used it for a staging area and might need it again.

Like everyone else around here, we are forever grateful to the L.A. County Fire Department, LA County Sheriffs, National Forest Service and all the crews who came to help fight this fire in 100+ degree weather and on rough terrain.

 

 

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