We’ve had thunderstorms two days in a row here. Thunderclap and lightning strike together and the power went out at home for a few hours on Thursday.
Southern California is dry country. Even the hills running down to the beach tend to be scrubby oak woodland, grassland, or chaparral. The southern California mountains are piney and rocky, dry and dusty in the summer and fall.
In a wet winter, the local snowpack is good; in a dry winter, not so good. The numbers this year for the whole state are abysmal because of the protracted drought.
The years that we have rain and not much snow, we get overgrowth of vegetation, fuel for southern California wildfires. And fire season is beginning earlier every year. San Diego was aflame and it’s only May.
Last week some neighbors were burning something at the edge of their yard. Trash maybe? People do that out here.
Here in the high desert, we expect winds. I’ve noticed in the last decade that wind velocity and duration have both been increasing.
There are days that the wind is so extreme I wonder how much longer I can maintain RSF. There’s that much wind.
Thursday, my neighbors had been running a bonfire for several hours. Silly me, I tend to assume that people do the sensible thing. There’s a rock-lined fire pit in our back yard that a daughter and her boyfriend built. They’ve used it twice. Before they do, they call the local FD. They’ll tell you if it’s a “burn” or “no-burn” day.
I suspect the day my neighbors had the fire stoked was a no-burn day.
The winds were as strong as any we’ve had this spring.
The fire got away from them. Another neighbor came by. This guy was the proverbial man with his hair on fire. He was wild-eyed. I’m actually glad he was. He called out the cavalry and raced to the paved road to meet them.
The local fire department apparently dispatched a phenomenal number of trucks. I guess it was kind of cool. I don’t know for sure. I had to leave for work before the excitement really took hold. I don’t have a single photo. An older daughter was home with my teen. They thought the neighbors were idiots. Well, they were. They were a few gusts away from setting fire to the acreage right next to my house. A shift in the wind and their own home might have gone up.
We used to say, blithely, “the desert won’t burn, there’s not enough biomass.” Given events of the last several years, we don’t say that anymore.
Scary stuff. Very thankful I had responsible young people at home. And even more thankful that they’re safe. And the house is still standing.