Friday, November 12, 2010

This has nothing to do with Darby or Pumpkin

A few people have commented on the pretty view we have out our backyard.  We love it!  But living in this "urban/wilderness interface zone" known by some as "the stupid zone" is not without its risks.  I ran across some photos from 2003 that prove my point. 

Our general area burned in a massive fire back in the 60's or 70's, and scientists believe the area has burned in the same pattern repeatedly throughout history.   When we stood in our backyard in 1997, before the house was even finished, I said to Glenn "If we live in this house long enough, there will be a fire here."  And, I was right.  (I love being right, except about some things!)

Early, early one morning in late October 2003, the Santana winds were roaring through our area and our dogs who slept outside (at that point Glenn wouldn't even let them sleep in the house, let alone on the bed!!) woke me up barking madly at the noise from the wind, the dry leaves on the trees and the patio furniture that was being overturned (I'm not exaggerating!)  I looked out our bedroom window and the sunrise-lit ridge in the photo above, looked like this:

Friends of ours have a horse property in the valley just below that ridge.  My phone call and stupid question "Do you know the hills above you are on fire?" woke them up and gave them a four hour head start on getting ready for the fire that eventually roared through their property, but thanks to water trucks from the nearby dairy, spared their house.

By the middle of the day, the fire jumped from the north side of the freeway over to our side -- but a few miles east of us.  It nearly destroyed the entire town in the hills above us, but thankfully, but the time it started down our side of the hills, the wind died down and rather that roaring through, consuming everything in it's path and creating its own wind that threw embers miles ahead of itself, it slowly chewed its way down the hillsides to our backyards.
We were so lucky--before it got to us the wind died down and several dozen firefighters from Santa Clara County (500 miles to the north of us) were stationed all along the southeast rim of our development ready to put out the flames when they got too close.

By the time the fire, dubbed the Cedar Fire, was declared contained--three days later--280,278 acres had been burned, 2,820 buildings (homes) had been lost and 15 people had died.  You can read more about it here.

So.  We do have a very nice view, one we enjoy every day. But, when I hear the wind coming from the east,  the Santana winds, I think back to those awful days and hope that no one is careless with a campfire, no sparks are created when brush clearing equipment hits rocks or metal, and no sick person starts a fire on purpose.   I think the  worry is worth living here in "the stupid zone" -- but then, that's easy for me to say.  My house didn't burn -- so far.


Amy said...

What a crazy week that was! I know that all of us living in the "stupid zone" whose houses were spared were very grateful. It's hard to believe that was 7 years ago!

Taryn said...

I love California, it is a gorgeous state. But I don't think I could ever live there due to its many environmental flare-ups....wildfires, mudslides, earthquakes....I like nice stable Virginia, our only worry is an extremely rare tornado warning. Snow is rare, thunderstorms are pretty mild, an occasional hurricane but we are far enough inland not to suffer too much...

I can't imagine living in the fire zone. You hear about wildfires out of control every single season. I couldn't take it!

Boo's Mom said...

Taryn, I agree that Virginia sounds nice and stable! I think the thing I like the least is the earthquakes because there is no way to predict them. Nearly every other "natural disaster" gives some sort of warning. But, earthquakes just don't--or at least we don't yet recognize the warning! The fire season is bad, but if one breaks out, usually there is time to get out of its way.