Tuesday, October 23, 2007
San Diego Fires: My Personal Experience
Monday morning I made my usual weekly drive from Palm Springs to San Diego for a few days at the office. I was not fully prepared for what I would encounter. I made my usual journey from I-10, and discovered that route 79 through Banning was closed for some reason, so I took the mountain pass through route 60. There were intense winds blowing sand, making visibility quite difficult. By the time I made it all the way south on the 15, it was nearly 5:00 AM and I-15 was shut down. The wildfire had jumped the freeway, making it impossible to pass. I was diverted along route 78 to the I-5 freeway along the Pacific Ocean coastline. After several hours in the car with Shimi (dog) and Owen (cat), I reached the area where there was evidence of the massive San Diego wildfires that were burning. Following are some photos I took myself while escaping San Diego on Monday evening:
Above: while driving south on I-5, I saw the massive smoke cloud in the distance, & above right: as I continued to drive south the smoke cover grew darker.
Above: By this point I was completely under the smoke cover, which was still quite high above the highway. the immediate air in front of my car was still clear, as you can see.
Pets Need Help too!
One of the things my staff and I did today was to call all of our dog and cat vendors to ask for support and donations of food, kennels, bowls, leashes, etc. We had great success with our vendors. We were able to round up quite a bit of dog and cat food, bowls, kennels, carriers, leashes, and other supplies for pets displaced due to the fires. PETCO has sent all sorts of supplies to the local evacuation centers where people have evacuated their homes with their pets. In some ways, I feel the most sad for the animals, who are scared, confused and jittery. Thank you to all of our wonderful vendors who are helping us support pets in need.
The Evacuations Continue
All day long, various towns and neighborhoods within San Diego county were ordered to be evacuated. At 1:00 pm my company closed the office, so I bailed out. Once at my condo, I decided that I just didn't feel safe in San Diego and decided to leave town and head back to Palm Springs. I took the only highway out of San Diego that was still open or moving. Shimi (my dog) was restless in the car, perhaps he was nervous from the smoke. I drove as far east as I could on route 8 to get far away from San Diego. Eventually I made it to the Cleveland National Forest. Here are some of the photos I was able to take:
Above: These don't look too threatening, but these are views looking west of the San Diego fires, from the Cleveland National Forest.
After I safely passed through this part of San Diego county, this area was closed and evacuated. I was one of the last passenger vehicles to escape town on this road.
As of this evening, authorities report that as of now over 300,00 people have been evacuated from their homes, 500 homes have been destroyed (known so far), and another 5,000 homes are at risk of being burned. I am grateful to have escaped San Diego to my home in Palm Springs but I am fully aware that there are people in San Diego who don't have that luxury, and certainly are not as comfortable as I am this evening. Please keep San Diegans in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.
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