Sunday, November 16, 2008
12,600 People Evacuated
We were counted in the number of the 12,600 Anaheim Hills evacuees yesterday, who clogged the 91 freeway, which was flanked by a 20 foot fire wall marching up a 10 mile belt of dry hillside. We spilled out onto adjacent streets congesting major arteries leading out of the city, as police officers, firefighters and other emergency vehicles--parting a sea of cars traveling in the opposite direction-- weaved in and out of traffic . Many of those municipal employees raced to join the front lines of the blaze--some while reconciling the reality that their own homes were simultaneously being vanquished by the inferno.
Several fixed winged air crafts performed reconnaissance overhead. It seems ridiculous, but each time they flew by I ducked behind the steering wheel. The roaring of the DC10 engine was amplified, as the craft's belly all but nudged the ridge lines and rooftops of the nearby landscape. It looked like a war zone. I felt like I was in the middle of an H.G. Wells radio broadcast. The chaos was psychologically disturbing.
Neighbors use words like "apocalypse" and "Armageddon" to describe the mushroom cloud of soot that plumed in the air.
Fortunately, we are the lucky ones. As we returned home this afternoon, unsure of whether the Triangle Complex Fire--as it is now being called-- was merciful to our modest home, we marveled at the landscape, which now resembles a checker board pattern with alternating charred and unburned patches of brush.
Thankfully, our small condo community went unscathed. Our home is intact. Yet, some of our neighbors in the foothills didn't fair as well. With reportedly 86 buildings damaged or destroyed, 14 homes lost, and 280 apartments burned to the ground here in Anaheim Hills, acknowledging my family's chance good fortune is awkward.
It's hard to make sense of what just happened. I think I'm in shock. I can't even begin to describe the randomness of it all.
The blue "X" on the map above illustrates our location relative to the spot fires outlined in red. Our area was evacuated shortly after 1:00 pm yesterday. I'm still processing the whole ordeal. More to follow.