As I walked in, I noticed the sunlight streaming in through the glass doors onto my white papasan chair was literally RED. Since when does natural sunlight look like something from a Steven King movie? Nothing freaky or eerie about that at all! I mean seriously, the sun is always the color of blood, right? WTF?
I was a little freaked at this so I went to the window to verify that our fireball in the sky had not collapsed into supernova or that aliens had not replaced our primary lightbulb with some kind of solar compact florescent. I noted that the cloud from the front of the house actually extended all the way over and across the back of the complex, then funneled down to a V on the horizon over by Camp Pendleton Marine Base. The brain latched onto the only answer: smoke. LOTS. TONS. Again, WTF?
Having witnessed the World Trade Center's demise firsthand, I have to admit this brought my heart up to my throat a little more quickly than most people probably would've reacted. (Funny how I keep thinking that event didn't affect me much.) My brain immediately panicked, listing off things such as nuclear attack, air raids, bombs, etc., and I wondered if I should even continue breathing.
Since I have no tv service (because I choose not to), I had to rely on the internet for information. I called Katy back as I tripped up the stairs to find out what was going on.
CNN had a small banner at the top announcing a brush fire at Camp Pendleton. Not much further information, but at least it gave me some keywords to search with. According to local news sources, the fire started only an hour and a half before, and was covering several acres, but was not in an area that threatened any homes or people. Still... wow. My logical brain pointed out if there was that much smoke from one small fire, do the math for the San Diego fires that made national news last year! Holy crap!
I watched a news video online taken from a helicopter. At first they give you the wide shot, then zoom in a bit. I'm thinking, hey, that doesn't look TOO bad. I mean, how big of an area is that? Probably not that large. The Marines surely have enough trucks to cover it.
Then they show another helicopter below them coming in to drop water (or something) on the fire. It looks about the size of a gnat against a field of flames. Perspective is an awesome thing.
I kept tabs on the news through the rest of the afternoon and evening because it was only about 10 miles from our house, and I remembered hearing how fast the flames traveled in 2007. Fortunately, there didn't seem to be much to report.
That evening I had a date in Oceanside. I took 76 due West. It was after dark. As I rounded one of the corners, my eyes caught the enormous orange unnatural glow beneath a heavy ceiling of clouds. I've never in my life seen such a thing. It was both awesome and terrifying at the same time.
My poor date called about this time and I spewed my incredulity over the cell phone to him (way to make a first impression!), trying to explain in between gasps and babbling that this was my first fire season here in San Diego and I'd never seen a brush fire before. I don't blame him for laughing at me.
I so wanted to stop and take pictures because I had my camera in my purse, but I was already late so I managed to restrain myself. However, on my way back a few hours later I definitely took the opportunity to drive up to a place where I could get a good look at the goings on. Even from a couple miles away you could see the movement of flames licking the air in a frenzied dance down the hillside. I called Katy and told her to get dressed because I was bringing her back out to see this since I prayed it was the ONLY time EVER that we would get to witness a wildfire so close to our house.
By the time I retrieved her and we made it back to a good spot to view the damage, the fire had made it almost to the bottom of the hill. I read later that the wind actually shifted and helped the firefighters contain the blaze. Thank goodness, because it was definitely headed for the nearest community.
Katy and I tried to get pics, but they were mostly blurry. I found the following on www.signonsandiego.com and they are a much better representation of what we saw. God bless professional photographers. May I someday join their ranks. It was just so amazing and mesmerizing, and at the same time I hope I never see that again.
So in my four short months as a SoCal resident, I've already experienced an earthquake and a brush fire. I feel like I am no longer a California Virgin. Perhaps these are the hazing rituals of the Cosmos... or maybe Mother Nature is trying to make up for us missing the autumn colors up North right now. I'd much rather She contain it to beautiful but harmless leaves. The front row seat to Hell's Concert of the Year would not be my first choice of venue.