This is the second time around that I’ve experienced the wild fires in North County and it’s still surreal. The first was in 2003 and this time it’s much, much worse.
The sky is the same rusty metal color and the air is just as thick with soot and ash. I had to drive all around the county on an emergency errand so I got to see how things were all over and for the most part they were not good. When I first left Escondido there was a sharp line running East-West. On the northern side of the line the sky was that normal Southern California blue. On the southern side of the line the sky was red, orange, and gray. The 15 south was closed so I had to go all the way across the 78 to take the 5 south down to the 8. Look at a map and you can see that’s quite a hall. I stopped in Leucadia to get gas and the 60 seconds or so that I was out of my car left me smoke in my throat and ashes in my eyes.
I actually made it to my destination at the 8-5 intersection pretty quickly. It’s going back that I had problems. I heard on the radio that the 15 had been reopened so I drove the 8 to the 163 to the 15. I was diverted off the freeway at Ted Williams Parkway (the 56) to be diverted onto that road. I was hoping I could find my way around so I made my way up Poway and Rancho Bernardo. While in Rancho Bernardo I stopped to look in on my girlfriend’s parents’ house since the area had been evacuated: the house was fine.
I made my way onto the 15 south and then the 56 west, driving all the way back to the 5 north where traffic was steady at about 10 MPH all the way to the 78. At the 78 I cruised all the way back to Escondido.
In driving around like this I noticed a few things. First it was surprising how quickly you could go from an are of clear sky to an area of noxious smoke. Secondly, this whole thing was handled really well in my opinion. Evacuation notices seemed to go out in a timely fashion and people evacuating were being directed in an orderly way. All day the radio has been saying 250 thousand people evacuated and it’s probably more since I’ve been hearing that number for about five hours. Considering the scale of this the performance of our emergency services is absolutely stunning.
I’ve been listening to a local AM station, 760 KFMB with Rick Roberts. Rick normally does political talk which I’m not into and I almost never listen to AM radio. Today however Rick and that station did a stellar job of passing information onto us, getting people on the air who had pertinent questions, and getting people on the air who had pertinent information. I think their information dissemination probably helped keep a lot of people from panicking and probably saved a few lives. Kudos to them.
I may get some pictures of the sky on here but most likely mine will pale in comparison to what you can get on local news sites.