Creek Fire : December 5th 2017


"Sunday was an ordinary day".

These stories always start out like that.

You just have to add the "but we had no idea of what was about to happen..."

For drama. And say it like the guy that does the voiceovers for movie trailers.

I spent some time battling with Jasper, who was interested in knowing what magic tastes like, as well as taking a moment to admire the fun swirly flutters of color which has blanketed our front porch. Christmas lights, heck, I want this up all year. These pictures were from the day before actually, but are may as well be for sunday as well. These are normal, random occurrences

Monday, December 5th

Monday morning...

Well, I'm going to try to recollect the last few days the best I can. You see, on Thursday, I literally snapped out of whatever it is that grabs ahold of you during an event like this. I felt like Thursday evening was still Monday.

Monday morning I woke up and did the normal routine.

1. Pour cold coffee from the fridge into a cup.

2. Refill cold coffee.

3. Start hot coffee.

4. Drink Cold Coffee.

5. Quit being such a wimp... chug that coffee.

6. Go out to the car to get wife's coffee mug.

7. be careful. (because this is when you fell down the stairs that one time that you weren't fully awake yet).

Step 8 is supposed to be to fill her coffee mug, and proceed down the list.Instead... it was... "Hey, is that steam from some factory or something? Or is this bad?"I took a picture (above) and displayed it in front of my wife, who was in her frantic morning routine. I commented that I wasn't sure if it was smoke or not. This was the sunrise, and the sun coming up was lighting it up orange. Those who have been near wildfires are accustomed to the orange glow as the smoke blocks some of the light spectrum.

For those of you not familiar, let me just tell you that it quite surreal. The smoke blocks out most of the blue colors, and leaves everything orange, if the sun is shining on you through the smoke. Now, going through this, we have learned that the color of the smoke is important. 

White Smoke : they are putting out the fire.

Brown Smoke: Brushfire, Trees

Black Smoke: typically some sort of building; more hazardous materials burning

So not much longer, I hear from the bedroom, my wife telling me something. I walk in, and as she looks up from her phone, she says that there is a fire. We quickly plan that she will take kids to school, and that I will stay home and monitor things, and pack if we have to.

I stepped back out onto the porch and took a look and sure enough, there it was, the smoke was still there.

Step 1: Determine location of the fire.

As I walked up the hill behind our house to get a better view... I looked up and saw this.

There's this big demonic eye staring at me, red and glowing. An ominous smoke plume billowing out from the hills, brown, and orange contrasted against the early morning blue color of the sky.

Now you have to understand that seeing this sort of thing will put you into a state of, well, let's just call it fear. The fire, from where I could see it, was a few miles away to our east. Between us and the fire was a bunch of trees and hills. At this point it was already getting a little windy.

The wind was blowing the smoke more south than toward us, although I recall smelling it a few times. This was also causing the fire to be pushed in that direction as well.

Seeing this sight again brought back a lot of memories of the previous fire we had been through. I but I think in the end having been through that experience made this one a little easier. 

Now while this firewood is definitely further away what was scary is that it was on our side of the mountain. The last fire we had experienced was happening a little bit north of us and was on the other side of the mountain... meaning that it would have had to climb over the peaks to get to us, and this is not the case this time around.

The experience that i've had twice... (I'm assuming is this highly instinctual) the thought to put yourself between danger and your family. I wanted to keep an eye on it, so I knew the moment things were going bad. 

Actually seeing the flames kicks the anxiety up a notch. If you thought you were already turned up to 11, you weren't. And this much smoke is not a good sight.

This video is playing at 8x speed

This is playing at 2x-4x speed.

You can watch a few sad attempts at trying to capture the wind on video. Warning, the wind is loud, so turn down your volume a bit!

The wind was tipping the camera over. What you need to understand is, this camera with lens is rather heavy. The wind actually knock me over and I was standing low to the ground. There was no way that anyone was on the ground, or in the air trying to fight this fire. I could hardly move around.

Finally some aircraft were showing up to the party. I hope you didn't read that with an attitude, as I was typing it with pure gratitude. You got it, dude?

These ones were not the super huge ones, but certainly welcome. 

Inching it's way closer. You can see the wind pushing it south.

These helicopters were struggling to maintain balance... if you didn't know how windy it was, you'd think the pilot was beginner taking lessons. The wind was picking up more and more.

I was getting cold, as I had not prepared by actually putting anything on. I wasn't naked though, so don't worry. I decided to stay inside and warm up for a bit before going out to monitor it some more.

Even though the sun was rising it was continued to be blotted out by the plume of smoke. I decided I wanted to get a closer look this time, so I decided to head toward a trail that I would climb while I was trying to recover from a back injury... trying to give my legs a total workout.

The color palette makes it look like a dream.

We have a good view of the valley from here.

The smoke was making it very dark for even just moments at a time.

Video of the wind. Yea, I know that sounds really boring.

I got super lucky with these two shots, and they we taken within a couple seconds of each other at the most.

Monday, Dec 5th 12:50 PM

This is a sock drawer. This is MY sock drawer. Yea, I know.

I was taking pictures of the everything we had for insurance purposes. This is one of many photos I took for that. The feeling you have when doing this. You are trying to think critically about what you are doing, making this list in your head... but you can't get over the fact of what you are doing and why. 

Monday, Dec 5th 1:48 PM

If this doesn't look damaged... scroll this part up and down a few times. Now do you see it? This is our carport... the noises this thing made was unreal. The wind was so strong. 

My wife had just come home, and I just sort of collapsed on the floor for maybe 30 minutes while she was staring at this roof from the living room window as it moved up and down, and eventually made a crease, and then holes. I believe this is aluminum. I believe I had run out of adrenaline and may have hyperventilated to sleep. 

After waking, I came outside and took this picture, like a stupid photographer would do when the wind outside was strong enough to break metal.

I didn't take any other photos the rest of the day... I was tired, and had been hiking up and down this hill several times. I was going to try to focus on making some food, cleaning... anything to just feel like I am carrying on with normal behavior.