Friday, November 14, 2008

Ash Town

I went for a run yesterday after work. I've been lacking in exercise since the time change, so I arranged to get home from work early to catch some sunlight to start my run. I set out, with some newly downloaded music, and went around my neighborhood and along the edge of the golf course that's just a couple blocks away. It was unbelievably warm, unseasonably so, and I was delighting in it. I love warm nights, and in mid-November, no less! I had a huge grin during my entire run, soaking in my uplifting music and the feeling of a good workout. And, I noticed with pleasure, it smelled like camping outside. I love that smell! I wondered if there was a reason why or if I just usually didn't notice it.

At about 6:30, after my run and dinner, I got a text from Meg. "Are you watching the news?!" Crap, I thought. What celebrity had died now. I turned on the news, saw flames, and gathered that our hills were burning. I ran to my front lawn to see if our position on a small hill facing northeast afforded us a view of anything going on.

I gasped. It sure did. From what I could see, it looked like all of Montecito and the Riviera was burning. Tsunami-size flames billowed up into the night sky, smoke encircled the rising moon and turned it orange.

The Tea Fire turned Thursday night into a buzzing, eerie, and anxious few hours... and it's not over yet. Work is forgotten by many, most schools are closed, the fire is still not contained, and air quality warnings abound. Christen and two other friends had to evacuate, and the four of us squeezed into my little place last night and watched the news, snacked, and answered our constantly ringing phones. For most of the night the sound of sirens and helicopters overhead was constant. The air got even warmer as the night went on, and today it is 87 degrees apparently, by 10:00 am. Ash is everywhere; our cars are covered in white flecks, so reminiscent of the Gap Fire a couple months ago and the Zaca Fire summer of 07.

Westmont has had some buildings destroyed, but it will be okay. Faculty housing is devastated. Clark Halls have been hit hard... sections M, F, G and S are gone. That blows my mind, I don't understand how my beloved section K (where I was an R.A.) is okay... it's set right up against the hill along with J, and M is right in the center.

Anyway, check these out.

And then here, much less dramatic, and not given justice by my mac's photobooth feature, are two shots I captured standing in my backyard.

The Riviera, around 10:00 pm, after my view of the fire had subsided since it was slipping further into Montecito and closer towards downtown.

This is from this morning at 10:00 am, a view towards the same direction as above, and the cloud of ash and smoke is constant and dispersing out towards the rest of Santa Barbara. You'd think smoke clouds from major fires would be black, but since I've lived here and experienced major local fires, they've always been a grey-white. You can't see the flames as well during the day, its hard to know unless you're watching the news where they've gone.

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