Under fire

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The sun sets on Cold Spring, NY.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020. Very warm yesterday in New York with a Real Feel up there in the 90s, and then around 6:30 the rains came to drop the temps down to the 70s.

While we’re keeping cool any which way we can — wiping our brows, jumping into the pool (or sea or the river further up north), sitting in front of the fan — out in California as you might have read, they are suffering with massive fires. Our frequent contributor Paige Peterson has been out there looking after her 94-year-old mother on Belvedere Island off San Francisco while the fires have been raging.

I was reminded of an article I read years ago in the New Yorker describing California as a geological phenomenon subject to earthquakes, floods, and fires. Having lived out there (quite happily at the time), I’ve been very aware and occasionally experienced this dramatic phenomenon, particularly with the quakes.  But right now, much of California has been battling incredible fires up and down the coast but mainly along mid-state including San Francisco, Sacramento and inland.

The view from Belvedere Island just two days before the fires started burning.
Same view two days later on August 18th — 22 miles from the closest fire.
Another before and after view.

Paige has sent us several photos of it, along with her personal coverage as of yesterday afternoon.  Here is her report:

Three years ago the Tubbs fire devastated California. Remember when Peter Lang saved Safari West? This fire is bigger … It has been burning for a week.

The view west of Peter and Nancy Lang’s ranch on Tuesday, August 18th.
Smoke from the fire to the east.
Fire to the west.

Cal fire statistics: 14,000 firefighters with 2,400 fire engines, 284 dozers, 327 fire crews, 321 water tenders and 95 aircrafts along with 60 out of state engines, are battling 365 wildfires that have burned more than 1.25 million acres. Since the lightning siege started on August 15, there have been more than 12,000 lightning strikes.

Cameras in special boxes that are “burn proof” melted in the fire.

Healdsburg, California.

Pleasant Valley Road, a two lane road in and out of a valley in Vacaville, burned so hot and moved so fast that it killed horses, cattle, a flock of peacocks in their fields, and barns.

Interstate 80 has been closed several times due to fire jumping the 8 lane highway. The metal railings that divide the highway were all twisted and melted. Heather farms fueled the fires.

Wildfires have towns evacuating residents. 2,689 acres have burned the Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County. It is only 5% contained. Power outages galore. 

Thank God redwood trees are ecologically suited to fire. They burn from the inside out. There are thousands of redwood trees burning in California. Most will survive the burn. Even trees that look significantly scorched are still alive and can regrow from their base. The largest redwood trees growing today show old burn scars. They will survive.

They think that these fires could burn until 2021.

The Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point with the smoke from the wildfire in Point Reyes National Seashore drifting into the Bay Area. All the color in the photo is from the sunset light refracting through the smoke in the air. Moments after this shot was taken, the smell of smoke enveloped the area and ash started falling. In the distance, that dark grey band is the smoke from the large fire threatening Napa Valley. This was the last fresh air sunset the Bay Area had in the past week. [August 18, 2020, photo by Jessica J Miller]

Some jerk broke into a firefighters car, WHILE HE WAS FIGHTING THE FIRE, stole his wallet and drained his bank account. How low can you go? He has been arrested.

I thought I was safer here in Belvedere (COVID) than in my apartment on CPW. NOT TRUE!

It is hard to breathe.

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