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Ventura Wild Fires - In my backyard


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Not literally, but close enough... We are less than a half-mile from the mandatory evacuation zone, and maybe two miles from the closest fires.  It's been a crazy 24 hours.... I was watching MNF last night when the power went out (the first time of several).  My wife informed me that she was reading about a wild fire in the area.  Stepped outside, and the hillside in the distance was sprinkled with parts that were glowing orange from the fires.  An hour later, that entire hillside (maybe 3 miles away) was an inferno.  Kids were up half the night because of the wind (being from the Midwest, the closest thing I can compare it to was the sound of a full-blown blizzard) and the sound of helicopters overhead every few minutes.  


I spent most of today trying to determine what we will take with us if/when we evacuate, while mixing in a few trips to the local Von's (stocking up on bottled water and ice).  We are on a city-wide "boil order" as the water has been deemed unsafe for consumption.  Meanwhile, there was a planned power outage for tomorrow (8 AM to 6 PM) that was apparently cancelled.  Thank god.  That would have been brutal.  Of course, the power could still go out again (which is why my deep freezer is now full of ice).  If we end up having to evacuate, it will obviously be a moot point, but we're crossing our fingers at this point that the evacuation zone doesn't extend any further south.  That might be wishful thinking.  At least I have a Bakersfield firefighter two doors down.... If he starts packing up his truck, we'll know it's time to get the heck out of Dodge.  

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Stepped outside this morning, and the air quality is significantly better today.  Yesterday was terrible.... You could not only smell the smoke (have since Monday night), but I could literally taste the ash in the air.  Lots of ash falling on the ground, and I would say about 50% of the people I saw around town were wearing masks.  Our house sits no more than 4 blocks from the mandatory evacuation line, but that line hasn't moved (any further south, anyway) in over 48 hours.  Very thankful that, although we were so close to the areas that were evacuated, we didn't have to.  There have been a lot of rumors about city water being shut off, about planned power outages, etc.  But, so far, most of those have been just rumors, as far as I can tell.  We had power outages Monday night and into early Tuesday morning, but other than that, the only issue water or power-related issue is the city-wide water "boil order."  No consumption of water (filtered or otherwise) without boiling it first.  So, I've gone on a few bottled water runs, the last of which was yesterday.... Had to go to four grocery stores before I finally found a pallet of gallon jugs at Big Lots, of all places.  Loaded up a cart with several gallons, and we should be set for at least a few days.  


I just heard on the news that the city of Ventura is currently experiencing no active fires, so at least for now, everything seems to have shifted elsewhere.  My thoughts are with those who are still in the thick of it, as I can say from experience that the past three days (Monday night in particular) have been pretty tense.  At no time was our home in immediate danger, but there were times when we could see the entire hillside to the north in flames (about 2 miles from us), with the wind moving more towards us than away from us.  It's a very uneasy feeling not knowing if you're going to have to leave or not.  You want to hope for the best, but at the same time, the smart thing to do is at least pack up important things and come up with an evacuation plan.  


My wife, who grew up here, knows several people who lost their homes.  Yesterday, we decided that we might as well help in way that we can.  I had made a trip out to the Ventura County Fairgrounds (which is serving as the local evacuation shelter, as well as the incident command center), attempting to donate some things, but was told at the gate that they were no longer accepting items due to the overwhelming amount of items that they had already received.  But, we learned that the local YMCA, as well as at least one other local gym (FitZone), have temporarily suspended all fitness activity in an effort to essentially become donation locations for anybody wanting to help victims.  So, I made a trip to FitZone yesterday, and dropped off our sleeping bags and some clothes.  That experience was one of several times in the past couple of days where I've been truly impressed by the teamwork and efforts of a community getting together to help those who are suffering.  I was amazed at not only the amount of items donated, but all of the people who were helping accept, sort, and distribute everything.  Really awesome.


Unfortunately, I did hear one negative story this morning.  Somebody my wife knows shared that, while listening to a police scanner, they heard about a group of fire fighters from Montana who traveled out here to assist with the fires.  Apparently, they made the mistake of staying at the local Motel 6 (may have not had much choice, I suppose).  Anyway, they got up this morning to discover that some equipment had been stolen from their trucks.  Embarrassing.  :angry:

Edited by Gopher
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