Monday, July 15, 2013

Chariot Fire - San Diego County

I mentioned in my last post that we were going to our favorite get away spot for a couple of weeks. I also mentioned that there was a large fire in the area and we might have trouble getting there (if at all). Thanks to a change in wind direction we had no problem.

Friday morning we took a chance to see if we could get on the road through the fire area. When we got there, the barricade had just been opened. The scenery was still beautiful for several miles. We decided to make our first stop (to get a view) at a place I did a post on about a year ago. 

Many of these photos were taken in the same spots for both posts. Pre and Post fire...
There was a fireman posted at this spot and he told us that we were the first civilians he had seen there in several days. They were still mopping up the fire and dealing with hot spots and we should be careful. My camera was sending me telepathic messages to get busy. We didn't see another civilian until we had driven all the way through the fire area. We stopped at the little store in Mt. Laguna and on our return trip we saw several civilians, but still not as many as we expected. This is the longest post I've ever done. I apologize in advance for that...

We had just driven through the little town of Julian and our path took us directly towards the fire. The fire was nine miles outside of town. Our campground is about half way there.

A bit closer! I'm surprised the dead bugs on our windshield didn't show up in these two photos.

We made it to our destination and although there was lots of smoke, the fire was now hidden from us.

Here is the just opened turn off through the fire area. We think the guy in the truck just opened the barricades. This took place three days after we arrived in the area.

Beautiful Sunrise Highway (Ca S-1) to Mt. Laguna. No fire damage yet.

One of the "Helispots" for the fire was on a ranch located in this beautiful valley. It was probably the closest place to safely conduct helicopter operations.

Several miles into the drive we saw this. It is almost the exact view from where our RV is parked, but from a different angle.

This is what is left of the old road which was re-routed to the other side of the hills to the right.  On the left side you can see the same monuments in the post from last year. There are plaques on and around it dedicated to hang gliders, some who died there. This path is now part of the Pacific Crest Trail (Mexico to Canada).

They think the fire originated at the bottom of this ravine. I stuck my foot out so you could see just how steep it is.

Just because I liked it

A major rock slide on the old road

The fight goes on in the distance

One of the many Hand Crews we saw in the area.

Another "just because I liked it"

A fireman told me that they believe the fire started where that burnt ground ends in the middle of the photo. It comes to a single point. The prevailing wind blows towards where i was standing, so that is the likely spot.

I took this photo from the Pacific Crest Trail. You can see where it cuts around the top of the burnt mountain top. I'm going to follow the trail for a while.

This is the spot where the trail disappears around the mountain in the previous photo

Around the corner it looks the same and there are more turns to make

Another turn coming up. My goal is to be able to see where we are camped. It's only a few miles and the Pacific Crest Trail goes very close to it.

Starting to see a lot of rock on the trail. I think the heat made some of the rocks crack and fall off.

The trail is now covered with ash and burnt material. I know that it isn't healthy to breath this stuff so, I called it a day. Besides, my wife and granddaughter are probably starting to wonder if I've fallen off of the mountain

Heading back down the trail

Just so you can see the scale of it all. It's a long long way down. I'm no daredevil and don't like heights, but this is becoming a tradition, right?

And again...

Back on the road

A very common sight on our drive

One of the main goals for the firefighters was to keep the fire from jumping the road. Most of the structure damage occurred when it did jump the road, from left to right. 

There were 149 structures destroyed in the fire. Many of them in this area.

I have the utmost respect for Firefighters. Especially those who work wildfires. It is brutal, exhausting and extremely dangerous.

This spot is is several miles down the road from where we first stopped. The Pacific Crest Trail is just on the other side of these trees. I don't know what to make of all these fire hoses. Maybe damaged?

Another little hot spot right off the road
The good news is that nobody was seriously injured in this fire!

Last May I did some hiking in this area looking for the remains of an old gold mine town. I didn't know that what was left of it disappeared in an previous fire. I found the place, but not much was left. I did manage to get myself lost though! These things will be the subject of a future post.




  1. Wow- what an incredible photo journey! It's amazing how fire completely not only changes the landscape, but also the whole mood of an area.

    And that pic where you stuck your foot over the edge? I grabbed the arms of my chair- seriously afraid of heights here!

  2. so sad to see some of the nature burnt by fires :(

  3. Wow Pat! This is a fantastic post, documenting the path of destruction of the fire and the brave firefighters. Really good photos and narrative...

  4. Oh my gosh what a fantastic post Pat, wonderful images. It's always very sad to see the after effects of a massive fire like this. Does the bush over your way regenerate itself after a fire like the Aussie bush? What breaks my heart the most is what happens to the wildlife in the area. The vastness of these places you take us is awesome..and btw Pat I always enlarge your shots :)
    P.s. what are you thinking getting so close to the edge of these high places, are you mad haha!

  5. Beautiful, beautiful view though! I hope you and your wife have a fantastic vacation, and stay away from danger :-)

  6. Some amazing photos! Almost like viewing another world. I actually thought the ones where you're driving and it's burnt on either side were the most disturbing.
    They always say new growth comes quickly from fires. Be interesting to see it in a year.

  7. Thise are some amazing photos Pat! It sure is sad to see the damage from the fires.

  8. Wow. These photos make me very grateful I live somewhere relatively safe from the ravages of Mother Nature. Maybe she figures we have so much winter that we don't need fire, flood, or earthquake topping it off. I agree.

    And like Alex said, I'd be interested in seeing this area in a year or so, too.

  9. An awesome post, Pat, and superb captures!! Thanks for an incredible tour! The fire damage is sad to see indeed. Such a beautiful place! I hope it recovers!

  10. Pat. I'd like to say that with our similar posts that great minds think alike.

    Sadly, wildfires are so prevalent right now in the west we both call home.

    Such fearsome beauty.

  11. I hate seeing and hearing about wildfires --but I hear that fires can be 'good' for the area in the long run....????? Not sure about that --but I've heard it many times...

    Glad you made it through the mess... Great group of photos --in a beautiful area.

    God Bless all of the firemen..

  12. I gotta tell you, when I think of wildfires I think just of the danger. I was really surprised by these pictures how oddly beautiful some of the scorched landscape is. Really adds a different perspective.

  13. gosh, seeing those scorched acres and bared trees just makes me cringe! still, even with the charred areas, the area is still so beautiful in its rough terrain and colors and skies!

  14. It looks like a bomb went off, the devastation is terrible. I'm glad no one was seriously hurt. That pile of hoses is pretty strange. I like the 'just because' shots!!!

  15. You know, I would have never guessed you didn't like heights based on the majority of your posts. ;)

    I hate fire. It's such a devastating things. I'm glad no one was hurt!! Kinda crazy to see the before and after.

  16. Loved following this trip. It needed to be a long post to give the full effect. I'm glad you did it this way. Your pictures are amazing...

    Your timing was good to be able to get through and still see all the devastation and the firefighters mopping up. They are heroes of our time for sure.

    I followed your link to see the 'before' post which I think I'd somehow missed back then, so thatnks for providing the link.

  17. wondeful post, the before photos are beautiful and the after photos can only be reconciled as part of mother natures plan for the future we hope!

  18. Nice, vivid images, Pat. And then it gets sobering. I'm so glad nobody was hurt.


  19. So glad you did not omit a single one of these amazing photos Pat. They show the rugged terrain and how difficult it was for the firemen.
    I was struck by the 149 structures that were burned but glad no one was hurt.

    Watch your step- love your sneaks ~:)

  20. Wiw, it's so sad how much damage a fire can cause. I'm glad no one was hurt. Thanks for stopping by my blog and thanks for the encouragement.

  21. ⊱✿✿°

    É tão triste! O prejuízo para a flora e para a fauna local... muito triste mesmo!!!!

    Boa semana, amigo!·..¸彡
    ♪♫° Beijinhos·..°♡♡
    °❤❤ Brasil✿✿·..

  22. Interesting wildfire photos. We had a wildfire this summer that was much to close to home, as we were evacuated.

  23. It is an incredible photo journey. I was absorbed ... and saddened by the destruction of the fire.

  24. Those fire damaged areas look just like ours - scary stuff indeed.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  25. So happy no one was hurt in that fire. Nature at it's most savage, leaving the landscape scarred but still hauntingly beautiful.
    I feel sad for all the little creatures perhaps killed or homeless but with rain, and time, the area will be green again.
    Nature will repair

  26. Beautiful country, too bad about the fire. Yes, working a fire crew is hard work.

    I'm flying west tomorrow evening and can't wait and hopefully none of my favorite spots have been burned.

  27. Shelly - We love this area and are sad to see it burn again. This area (and much more) was devastated in 2003 by the Cedar Fire. It was the largest wild fire in modern California history.

    DEZMOND - I agree Dezmond, very sad.

    Nat - Thanks Nat! I appreciate that.

    PerthDailyPhoto - Thanks so much! The ground vegetation comes back fairly quickly. The trees takes years, if ever. From where I'm sitting at this very moment, I can see thousands of burnt and dead trees from the huge fire I was talking about in the first comment.
    I must be mad because I don't like heights very much.

    Icy BC - I agree, it is still beautiful here. We are retired, so it's all vacation for us. A little bit of adrenaline is a good thing.

    Alex - Thanks Alex! I know what you mean about driving when it is burnt over on both sides of the road. The road we first turned off of to get to this one, goes through miles and miles of that from the fire I was talking about above. It is greening up but I can't even begin to imagine how many trees died in that one.

    Brian - Thanks Brian! It is very sad.

    mshatch - I know what you mean, but I love it here and I'm not going anywhere. The area of the huge fire in 2003 that I was talking about above, is still devastated, it's greening up but the forest is gone. I'm sure we won't see it totally recover in our lifetime. But then again, fire suppression activities allow areas to overgrow and that makes the fires worse.

  28. Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! I plan on taking photos in the same places in one year. We'll see how it looks then.

    Jenny - That's funny Jenny! I loved your post, and if you don't mine, I'd love to have the name of that deserted town you were in.

    Betsy - Me too! There is a lot of argument relating to that subject. At this moment I can see smoke from another fire. It's about 60 miles away, but out here you can see forever.

    TS Hendrik - I also think that way Tim. It is different, but still beautiful. The smell is not though.

    TexWisGirl - It also makes me cringe. When I think about the wildlife, I REALLY cringe.

    Wayne - Thanks Wayne! Except for a few shots at any given place, I spend a lot less time fretting over setting up a shot, settings, etc.
    Sometimes I've left places feeling that I spent more time with my camera than enjoying the surroundings. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

    Baby Sister - It's true Amanda, I don't like heights, but I try to not let it bother me.

  29. Sallie - Thanks for the nice words Sallie! Our timing really good and totally lucky. Maybe I should have included a couple of those "before" photos next to the ones in this post.

    gregory - Thanks! Yep! It appears that Mother Nature might not have had anything to do with it. It's still under investigation though.

    Robyn - Thanks so much Robyn! It's a mixed bag, that's for sure.

    Pam - Thanks Pam! I agree. Most of the "injuries" are usually to fireman and are heat related. All that gear, the heat, the incredibly hard work and the danger. Oh yeah, they look like sneakers from the top, but are actually heavy duty hiking shoes. My sneakers would have me sliding right off that ridge. I like the way they look also!

    Clarissa - It is sad! My pleasure stopping by. I usually learn something every time I go there.

    Magia - Yes! I especially feel bad for the animals.

    Roland - Thanks! I appreciate that you stopped by and commented.

  30. Al - That is really scary. We've had a couple in our area also. No evacuation though.

    Stewart - I think the landscape is very similar also. Very scary.

    Mynx - I also feel very bad for the wildlife. Unfortunately, it might not have been nature, but an arsonist who caused it. You are right about nature repairing it. I think arson should be a capital offense.

    sage - It is very beautiful! I assume you are headed home? Or further west?

  31. Wow!! Always sad to see the remnants after a fire like that...yet it is part of the natural cycle...and does replenish the earth with more lusciousness down the road!!!

  32. You and your wife are da man to document this. These moon scapes break my heart, and we'll probably see more and more as the years march on. Up here, the Station Fire squatted and just burned and burned in one place, so it didn't lay the way for future rejuvination, just destroyed. I hope this fire was kinder to the land, in the long run. How wonderful you were here just a couple of months ago...

  33. TheChieftess - That is true! I hope it doesn't take too long start sprouting.

    altadenahiker - How can we be da man, wen ya da man? I have to admit that my wife is a real trooper. She's got a ways to go though. This fire seemed a bit capricious in that it devastated most areas and just skipped right over others. We can see the fire burning by Idyllwild from where we are camped. It's about 40 or 50 miles away, but looking over the desert it doesn't seem that far. It's already much bigger than the Chariot fire and is pretty scary.

  34. Thank you so much for sharing this. I enjoyed it more than a documentary. The area is so beautiful, I've never been to such a place in my life. I enjoyed sharing in your journey. Great photos!

  35. Thanks for the tour of the area. It is interesting to see where the fire started. My sister studies fire in CA and the effects on the environment. I'll ask her if she knows much about this one.

  36. Following you from Bloggerdise New Blog Follower Club=)

    Jeanie Huston

  37. These pictures are waay cool. Felt like I was right there with you!!

  38. Such devastation!Your first few photos show how beautiful it must have been before the fire. It will be gorgeous again...but it will take years.

  39. Seriously Though - Thanks for the nice words! I appreciate it. We seem to find a lot of exciting and interesting places.

    Carly - Hi Carly! My pleasure. This fire was only about 8 miles from Julian! This one is now out and we're watching the big one in the Idyllwild area.

    Jeanie Huston - Thanks so much!

    nutschell - Thanks! I hate to see the destruction, but I like being in the area with a camera.

    EG CameraGirl - Yep, it's terrible! We've seen several fires in this area already this year. I can't wait until it all starts to regenerate.

  40. That is an amazing posting...loved all the pictures, but it is sad about the fire, glad no one was injured. You got lost!

  41. Dang Pat...that was a hell of a hike and a hell of a wildfire story in photos. Amazing shots of the majesty and destruction all at the same time.

    We are having our own issues with some wildfires here in Texas but the recent rain has really helped.

    Stay safe on your trips and oh are a nut for hanging your foot over the edge...not me, bro!

  42. As you know I no longer blog but I was thinking of you and stopped by. Such awful fires. At least in this one no fire fighters died. Awesome photos. You and family take care!!

  43. What a staggeringly detailed view of one of the scariest phenomena most of us will ever - or never - encounter. We can always count on you to journal the experience with depth and care. I could almost smell the smoke.

  44. Many of your photos are so stunning, they look like paintings. What inspiring scenery. Glad they got the fire out.

  45. Great post Patty - very thorough.

    Firies do an amazing job - mostly uncredited.

    Some of those shots are amazing = looks like a moonscape. Fire apparently travels much faster up a steep incline-something we learnt from the 2009 fires here.

    Thanks for sharing!

  46. Nora - Thanks! Yep! I did get lost, but it wasn't here...

    Chuck - Thanks so much Chuck! The hiking wasn't bad because I was moving slow. Too much to see and I didn't want to stumble off the edge. Believe me, I don't like dangling my foot off like that, but it's the only way I could think of to show the steepness.

    Ann - Hi Ann! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it! I can't even image fighting a fire in this wild country. Take care!

    Carmi - Thanks Carmi! Unfortunately, we see it here on a regular basis. I know it's my imagination, but I can still smell it.

    M Pax - Thanks Mary! It seems when one goes out, another quickly takes it's place.

    Anthony - Thanks Anthony! I agree! It is a brutal and dangerous job. You are right about fire going uphill. It travels up ravines (I think they call them "chutes" just like a chimney, with great speed.

  47. Wow... those are beautiful even with the destruction.

    You were awfully close if you were driving past fire fighters.

    Fabulous pictures!

  48. Gorgeous, absolutely stunning photos. And the pic of your foot over the edge? Thought I was going to barf, in a good way haha!

    All that fire is terrible, but I am glad no one was hurt. Now it's up to Nature to rebuild herself.

  49. I know the feeling to come back where you once vacationed and a fire struck there (in Yosemite) and it's eerie to see the devastation, yet also the beauty at the same time.
    Those firehoses must be damaged - firefighters take pride in taking care of their stuff (at least where son-in-law worked) - their training is paramilitary.

  50. oh my how I hate seeing pines in flames. Can I ask what campground you stayed at? also, have you ever stayed at a campground off of 395 where that giant mound of red volcanic rock is? it looks like a strawberry

  51. oh - I just read Lake Cuyamaca. I've hiked in that area. So Sad. They too lost all their old growth coulter pines to fire. Now I'm getting depressed again. When you visit my blog it will make sense

  52. Gingerspark - Thanks so much! Some of them we passed were still working on hot spots and flare-ups! They all looked so tired.

    Kato - Thanks so much! Believe it or not, I really don't like heights. Nature will rebuild, but the big trees take a long time...

    Jesh - Yes, it's got a good feeling either. I agree about the hoses. If they weren't damaged, they would already have been cleaned up, rolled up and put away.

    Pasadena Adjacent - I also hate it! We were in a campground a little higher in the mountains and about half way from Lake Cuyamaca and Julian. It's called KQ Ranch and is the former site of a couple of gold mines. There are a ton of Coulter pines that have escaped all the fires in that area. Awesome view from there. I posted some photos from there recently. I remember a big red cinder cone off of 395, but not sure exactly where it was, or where we stayed. I was at your blog a while ago and it does make sense.
    The Cedar fired wiped out so many Coulter pine trees! So Darn sad! I just read a forestry report that said new ones are popping up, but of course we'll be long gone by the time they are even a fraction of the size as the ones that burnt. Sorry, this answer is all over the place...

  53. WOW ... these photos are superb....
    the fire hose shot says so much....

  54. i've always liked the look for burnt out forests. they hint at stories that need telling.

  55. faye - Thanks Faye! I agree with you. These fires take their toll on both equipment and firefighters.

    Lovkyne - Yep! Lot's of stories about loss. I always try to find out the final determination as to how the fire started.

  56. Wow, Pat! These images certainly evoke strong emotions. I hate seeing the destruction & devastation that fires like that cause. It's amazing though, how nature has a way of recovering from this devastation. In no time there will be new shoots on all the trees & green everywhere amongst the blackness.

  57. Liz - I hate it also! Especially when it's caused by humans. there are already green spots showing up. We went back a month after the fire and were pleasantly surprised. I have a blog post to do on the re-visit but just haven't done it yet.

    Hilda - Thanks! It sure is.


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