Friday, June 02, 2006
And so it starts
OmegaMom's triangulation ability is awesome, when it relates to smoke plumes vis-a-vis the Omega homestead. Her distance recognition ability is lacking, though. Fire season started with a whiz-bang yesterday; a fire started in someone's backyard down by Trendy Southwest Tourist Town, was 100 acres by 5 p.m., and was variously reported as 1,500 acres, 2,000 acres, and 2,500 acres by this morning, depending on which news source you listened to. It's quite rare for a fire to grow that quickly overnight; it makes one realize just how dry everything really is this year. Yesterday afternoon, shortly before leaving Small Mountain University, I popped outside the building for a smoke (dreadful habit, yes, I know). Walking over to the work trucks, looking for a nice comfy truck bumper to laze on, I saw a plume of smoke in the sky. Hmm, says I, that looks like it is in the direction of Hippy Dippy Forest Enclave. When I drove home, every twist and turn of the highway made it clear that, yes, it was definitely in the direction of HDFE; by the time I reached the highway exit, though, it was clear that it was a little bit south. So, I did what every resident of Hippy Dippy Forest Enclave does when s/he wants the real scoop on what's happening where: I stopped into the HDFE "Country Store" (source of endless numbers of old kids' videos) and asked where the fire was. "Oh, it's down by Trendy Southwest Tourist Town--something like Sam's Road..." TSTT is about 40 miles directly south of us. That means it was a big honker of a smoke plume. During my bike ride with OmegaDotter (she made it all the way to the end of the pavement, down a loooong hill, woohoo! And back up again! And she kept up with me!), when I looked south, I could tell that the fire was just booming along; the plume was getting bigger and bigger, and the top had flattened out. It was reflecting the slowly setting sun, so it was a lovely rosy-red color. This morning, I investigated the Big City newspaper website, and got the 2,000 acres figure. The local Forest Service website yielded a 1,500-acre estimate. The local news station yielded a 2,500-acre estimate. The local news station also yielded a video clip that featured a nice young thing playing with fancy 3D graphics tilting and whirling to show the canyon-y terrain. It also featured the nice young thing saying, "...fire officials are concerned that, if the fire continues to grow up Sam's Canyon, it will threaten Hill Park and Hippy Dippy Forest Enclave, and eventually, Small Mountain University Town." Whoa, Nellie! HDFE was actually mentioned in the news! A small jolt of adrenaline raced through my system before I recalled the fact that the fire, while due south of HDFE, is 40 miles away. It would take a mighty big fire to make it up the rim from where it is now up to our little homestead. I cursed nice young thing and all other Big City newscasters under my breath; these folks haven't got a clue about distances or spatial relationships--they hear the fire person talking about dangers, they haul out their map, they see names on the map and call out, "What about Hill Park?" "What about Hippy Dippy Forest Enclave?" "What about (gasp!) Small Mountain University Town?!" And the fire-fighters' media liaison (yes, they have such things), cornered, has to say, "Well, yes, there is a small possibility if this and if that..." Which, of course, translates in media-speak into "imminent danger", which sounds a lot more sexy than "there is a small possibility..." This afternoon, there's no plume of smoke hovering ominously on the horizon, just lots of monsoon stormclouds. Leaving work early, I decided to motor on down the highway to the Scenic Overlook (none of the other pullouts after that are scenic, oh, no) to see what I could see. Nothing. Nada. Well, okay, one small plume of smoke emerging from the red rock country...a lot of smoky haze...growing cumulus clouds all over the place. So, even though the various websites are saying 0% containment, it looks like everyone dodged a bullet here. Score so far: 1 primary residence destroyed 1 partially-damaged residence 1 guest houses/shops destroyed 3 outbuildings destroyed Damn, I hate fire season.