Monday, July 29, 2013

Not Large Fires, but MUCH Closer to Home!

How much closer? I took these photos from my bedroom window in June. That is very darn close!

We live half way between Los Angeles and San Diego, but not close enough to be considered a suburb either. When they built my town in the mid-1980's, they reserved 40% of the area as permanent open space. In addition, it is surrounded by hills, mountains, huge wilderness areas and the ocean.  They also created many "greenbelts." Greenbelts not only look good, they also don't burn well. All that other stuff does burn well, and burn it does. Regularly...

We live on the eastern ridge line of a fair sized valley (or canyon). On the valley floor is a lake and a lot of wilderness that goes on for miles. This fire was two months ago and was directly downhill from our house. 

There is more room between these trees and houses than it appears, but it's still not very far away. If it had been windy, I might have invoked a personally mandated evacuation order. Of course, I'd evacuate as close to the fire as I could get.

 Two water dropping helicopters and bunch of fire trucks on the job

The helicopter is over the lake and is going to refill with water. Just beyond the helicopter is the amazing Aliso and Woods Canyon Wilderness area. 


The next two photos were taken last year on July 4th. The location is less than half a mile to the south of the fire above. Fireworks are a huge no-no around here. Want the police at your house in a hurry. Just light up a couple of sparklers. The couldn't get the helicopters out because it was too dark. They were scrambling to keep this one out of the adjacent residential area.

I took these photos at another fire in May. Same canyon as the last two fires, but about a half mile north of the first one. All of these were taken with the camera in my phone and are a bit grainy. We were about 75 feet from the helicopter. We were eating a sandwich at Togo's. When my wife spotted smoke coming from the canyon across the street. She was the first one to call it in. I wasn't sharing her happiness though, I was too busy kicking myself for NOT having a "real" camera with me! 

 The helicopter and firetrucks got there so quickly that they hadn't even stopped traffic yet.

 It only took me a few minutes to forget about the fire and start concentrating on the sky! I know what you're thinking and yes, I am wildly A.D.D.

 Fire? What fire? All I saw was the light reflecting off of the windscreen. If I had my CAMERA, I would have had a great look at the pilot's face!

 Okay, I am becoming seriously impressed with the camera in my phone!

I know the sun is blinding behind that smoke, but this is still my favorite photo of the whole thing.

We've had a several more fires in the area while we've lived here, but it's late and I'm so tired!


  1. Yes that fire is too close for comfort, but you did manage to take quite a few amazing photos. The last two I like very much too!

  2. Pat, this whole scenario is beyond scary.
    You and your trusty phone camera didn't miss a thing and captured fantastic action shots- that last one is superb.

  3. I wish for all of us a long, cool drink of rain, enough to soak the ground, all that's on top, and all that's underneath. Nothing worse than driving home and seeing that plume of smoke on the horizon~

  4. that's extremely scary, Pat! Some of the pics are so good that they look like they were taken from an action movie :)

  5. The shots of the sky are amazing! And interesting to see the helicopter at work. I'd be really nervous with a fire that close as well. Think I would've been out hosing down my house at that point.

  6. Cool pics! But boy I'm glad we don't have fires like that here!

  7. looks pretty close - lets hope nothing comes any closer (always blows my mind how pretty the bag things can be)

  8. Oh Pat. How scary for so many.

    This reason is exactly why my husband and I resist the idea of a cabin in Northern Arizona.

    I cannot imagine the stress seeing this deadly beauty rise and set along with the sun.

    Be safe!

  9. okay, the last few photos are truly amazing, but i am SO afraid of wildfire. those are TOO CLOSE for comfort! yikes!

  10. So many fires this year!! Great shots, Pat, but so sad to see so much lost! Stay safe!!

  11. Gee---I'd hate to live in one of those homes near the fires... Yipes!!!! You all have so many fires out there. Imagine the money spent on fighting the fires!!!!! Like you, I love the sky/sun photos --even though it did not happen at a 'good' time.. Thanks for sharing.


  12. Icy BC - Thanks! Too close for me, that's for sure!

    Pam - I agree! The phone camera did work out okay on the last group of photos, but I'm still kicking myself!
    Thanks Pam!

    Shelly - We've been getting some rare summer rain here and it really helped fight the fires in my previous two posts. I really don't like the humidity that comes with the summer monsoon rains (thank you Arizona), but it's worth it for all the good they do.

    DEZMOND - Thanks so much! I appreciate that!

    Alex - We have a pool in our backyard and I always think about getting a gas powered water pump for just such an emergency.

    mshatch - Thanks! There too many to count here. Pretty scary stuff!

  13. baygirl32 - Hey there! I agree with you! I feel kind of weird thinking how beautiful it can be, while knowing full well that they cause so much damage.

    Jenny - I totally understand your reluctance. We've thought about buying a cabin in our local mountains, but are afraid to for the same reasons.

    TexWisGirl - Thanks Theresa! Considering that those photos came from my phone and aren't processed in any way, I'm REALLY happy with them.

    Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! You are right about there being so many fires. It seems like everywhere we go this year, there is something close by.

    Betsy - Thanks Betsy! Pretty much all of the southwest is arid and that includes the coastal areas also. When the hot winds (Santa Ana's) blow in off the desert and it's already dry here, there is going to be fires. Add to that the local news starts with their overly dramatic warnings (which riles up the arsonists) and you have a recipe for disaster. I REALLY think arson should a capital crime.

  14. That's a lot of fires... you ain't been playing with matches, have you? Stay safe!

  15. It's been burning around here, too. Lots of smoke.

    I can see why the last is your favorite. Stunning shot.

  16. Those photos are so powerful, I can almost smell the fumes. I remember hearing about the San Diego fires, Pat, and I'm glad you made it through unscathed.


  17. Scary, scary, scary! Not close but WAY to close.

  18. I'm glad there's green space around your town but it still looks very scary to me!

  19. Those flames seem very close. I think I would leave if I could actually see flames from my window. Pretty scary stuff.

    Today we have light hazy smoky skies from the Aspen fire south of us. Not too bad, but enough to remind us that fire season is here for a while.

  20. Amazing photos Pat, on all cameras.... very dramatic scenes!

  21. I know fire is necessary for renewal but I hate it. Especially when it took so much of the San Gabriel's out. I'll never see those great pines again in this life.

  22. We've been evacuated three times in twenty years because of fire. Our own fault I guess for living in a forest. They burn.

    But where else would I live that offers me so much in exchange for this once-in-a-while danger? Besides, cities scare me.

    Thanks for commenting at The Write Game today. Appreciated your stopping in to say hi while Alex's character visited.

    New follower:

  23. some fabulous shots Pat!!! We've got a raging wild fire West of here...the Shaver Lake fire...only 20% contained...and spewing amazing amounts of smoke in our direction ... I'm thinking of heading back to LA so I can breathe...scary thought ain't it?!!!

  24. Sage - It sure is! Nope, no matches here!

    M Pax - Thanks Mary! Lot's of fires in all three west coast states. It's been crazy down here, but still can't compare to 2003. I remember that there were 15 large fires burning at the same time. Including the monster Cedar Fire that destroyed a big chunk of San Diego County.

    Robyn - Thanks Robyn! We weren't ever in danger. Besides, we had one of our grand kids with us.

    Brian - HA! That's right Brian!

    EG CameraGirl - There is even greenbelt between the streets. They use a lot of recycled water to keep it that way!

    Robin Andrea - I hate to say it, but I think we are a bit desensitized by it all. Still scary though! Everybody in California can probably smell smoke about now.

  25. Nat - Thanks Nat! My phone is pretty proud of its self...

    Pasadena Adjacent - I hear you and totally agree. I feel the same way about the places we go. Sure the brush grows and trees do sprout up, but you are right about us NEVER seeing the trees like that again. That is VERY sad...

    cleemckenziebooks - Maybe not your fault, but just a small price to pay for living in such a great place. Cities can be very scary! Like I said in the post we live smack dab in the middle of the two biggest cities in California and do our best to avoid both of them! Thanks for commenting and signing on here! I appreciate it.

    California Girl - Thanks so much my friend!

    TheChieftess - Thanks so much Kathryn! I was just looking at the Cal Fire incident map and was looking at the Aspen fire. Hang in there!

  26. Any camera in your hands is a fine tool, Pat. Whatever you're using to record the experience, I feel like I'm there - right down to the chills in my spine. I got to see heroes through your eyes. How cool is that!

    May these brave souls continue to keep you and your neighbours safe. May your wife continue to be an ace spotter. May you continue to have a camera, any camera, at the ready to bring it to us.

  27. The photos are great, but that fire is much too close for my comfort!

  28. A little too close to the fires for me... a few experiences from the past and I will now move in a heartbeat.

    Fantastic shots !!!

  29. Patrick, the pictures are wonderful documentation and (a little frightening to think about) but many are quite beautiful.

    But all these fires are getting too scary and too close. Take care.

  30. awesome photos but way too scary for comfort! so glad all is well!

  31. Some amazing photos here. The last two look like skies in an 18th century painting of the last judgement.

  32. Carmi - Thanks so much Carmi! Still, if I had an actual camera for that last series, I might have got some amazing closeups of the fireman working it. Speaking of cameras and cell phones... Just a few minutes after I read your latest article in the Toronto Star, Nokia announced the release of a a new phone. Instead of it being a phone with a camera. It's the other way around.

    Ms. A - Thanks! The only thing I was really worried about was the possibility of the fire spreading to the lake. It's much more forest like in that area.

    faye - Thanks Faye! I certainly understand that, fire is a darn scary thing.

    Sallie - Thanks so much Sallie! I know what you mean about the fires. It seems they are everywhere up and down the coast.

    Carolyn Ford - Hi Carolyn! Thanks for saying that. You are so right, there is nothing warm and fuzzy about wildfires.

    Jenny Woolf - Thanks! I forgot to say it, but I also saw a big evil looking face in the next to last photo. The helicopter is is just below the two nostrils.

  33. Amazing shots Patrick! I think I can picture where the fires were.

    I think I see Soka University (Aliso Viejo) near the top right corner of the fifth shot.

  34. YIKES!! Way too close.
    Are you sure you didn't slip in a couple of pictures of Detroit, though?

  35. those sky pics are amazing. they remind me a bit of some dystopian book cover.

  36. Hello, all is going sound here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that's truly fine, keep up writing.

    Also visit my web page - facebook

  37. Very nice pictures but stunning images, really scared! Wonderful recent fire with that sky!

  38. Nice photos, but that's too many fires far too close to your house. We just had one huge one near us this year.

  39. James - Thanks James! Yep, I was wondering if anybody would recognize the area. That building is the supposedly the residence of the dean or whatever they call the head honcho at SOKA. HA! It just hit me that "honcho" is a Japanese word. The university is is also Japanese owned.
    Have you ever been on the campus? Some people say it is one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.

    Al P - Funny Al! It was close, but no real danger (gulp!).

    Lovkyne - Hey there! I agree and I really liked how those came out.

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi! Fires are scary.

    Al - Thanks! Fires are everywhere! I remember when you wrote about the fires that were near you. Those were big and dangerous. These not so much.

  40. Wildfires are never a good thing, but you sure got some great shots!

  41. Carol - You are so right Carol! Not good and scary! Thanks so much.

  42. Great shots - but I do hope the fires are now out.

  43. When I lived in Monterey and experienced my first" wildfire" I thought for certain the city would burn to the ground. I was amazed at the helicopters that dropped bucket after bucket of water until the fires were contained.. These are amazing pictures Pat and yes, I love that last one too (camera phone? awesome shot indeed)

  44. Good heavens phones these days are brilliant, I don't have a super duper phone it does take pictures but I've never taken any pics with it :) that fire is a wee bit close for comfort Pat, we have so many fires here in summer but not ever been this must make it very uncomfortable smoke wise for days. You had some dramatic skies there and all without the 'effects' mine had :))

  45. Good heavens phones these days are brilliant, I don't have a super duper phone it does take pictures but I've never taken any pics with it :) that fire is a wee bit close for comfort Pat, we have so many fires here in summer but not ever been this must make it very uncomfortable smoke wise for days. You had some dramatic skies there and all without the 'effects' mine had :))

  46. We don't live in the same place, but we both live near the wildlands. And I just sniff a whiff of smoke in the morning and I wake up, bolt upright in bed. And it's stomach-clenching time.

  47. Fires that close to home are terrifying. Had a couple on our door step a couple of years ago and they are not so much fun.
    The last set of photos, of the helicopter, smoke and sun are sensational. Love them

  48. Gosh, this is so scary! Hope the fires are all extinguished by now...
    God bless you!

  49. LadyFi - thanks so much! They are all out, but others are burning elsewhere.

    sixdegreesphotograpy - Thanks so much Lynne! I forgot that you lived in Monterey. I LOVE that area.

    PerthDailyPhoto - They sure! Nokia just came out with cell phone that is a camera first and a smart phone second. About five years ago We could see fire burning in our local mountains for about 5 days. Terrible stuff!

    altadenahiker - You are right! The fire danger is all around us. I feel the same way about that smell. I can also tell something is burning somewhere by how the sunsets look.

    Mynx - That must have been so scary! Thanks so much! I couldn't believe it when got them off of my phone.

    Cezar and Leia - There is nothing burning close to us, but there are always fires in this part of the state. Thanks Cezar! Take care..

  50. that's too scary, but you did manage to take some great action shots.

  51. Great post, Pat! You must have a humdinger for a phone to have captured such fab shots. Of course, it's the eye of the photographer that makes the shots so spectacular. Good job!
    ps. is the fire department on your speed dial?

  52. It's crazy how something so dangerous and powerful can be so beautiful!! Awesome pictures. I think your phone did a pretty good job.

  53. Betty M - Thanks Betty! It's all about the photos!

    Rosemary - Thank you Rosemary! I do agree with you about the eye thing.
    If they aren't on speed dial, they should be. There are three new fires burning down here now!

    Baby Sister - I agree! I feel a little bad about it, but I agree. Thanks Amanda!

  54. That's incredibly scary!! I have traveled between LA & San Diego. The countryside is strikingly beautiful. I'm glad you were safe on each count!

  55. Liz - Thanks Liz! It is indeed a beautiful part of our country. It is also always a spark away from burning.

  56. That would have been so terrifying!!!!! I'm glad that all is ok though.

    Those last few photos are just stunningly gorgeous!!

  57. Kato - It's a little bit scary, but we live really close to the lake that they were sucking water out of. Wouldn't you know it, that the best photos came straight off my phone.

  58. Great work on the fire captures. See any mountain lions up there?

  59. Dalmdad - Thanks Steve! They aren't seen very often, but they are here. they thing we see all the time are coyotes. They act like they own the place.


This blog is word verification free.
I love your comments and will do my best to respond to each and every one.