Last week, as most people are aware, there were more firestorms in California, and they continue to burn. We’ll look at scenes of California on better days in the past, as I tell you about life here this week.
Bottom line: I am safe. The local air quality is registered as “unhealthy,” due to smoke. But other than that, I am fine. Each fire is over a hundred miles away.
There has been much news coverage, I don’t need to repeat the horrors. But for people who want information, here are some links.
- Northern California “Camp Fire,” 45% contained. Camp Fire 2018 Wikipedia. 63 people found dead, over 600 still missing.
- Southern California “Woolsey Fire,” 69% contained.
- CalFire Map— the website many Californians consult frequently for updates on containment, evacuation centers, road closures, etc.
Last fall I was evacuated during the Wine Country fires, our property sustained substantial damage, and I couldn’t move back home for a year. This week, as we struggled with high winds and foul air, and the terrorizing memories of last year, I took time out to remind myself why I live in California; thus, these photos.
The smoky fire-choked air is sometimes blue or lavender, sometimes gray, sometimes as white as milk. It’s eerie, ghostly.
There’s less oxygen in the air, many of us get headaches. It’s a lot like altitude sickness, I discovered…same principle, oxygen deprivation. The headaches force us to slow down. Not such a bad thing sometimes.
Friends and neighbors, acquaintances…we talk about air purifiers and respirator masks, and the need for more underground electrical wiring. We hang our respirator masks on the front door key rack or the steering column in the car. If we have extras, we hand them out to someone who’s using their coat collar to cover up their nostrils.
Two days this week the local schools were closed. There is a website map they consult, purpleair.com, to see if the Air Quality Index is safe; this number determines if school is open or closed. If the school is open but it’s still very smoky, kids eat and play inside.
The sunsets and sunrises are more colorful this week, lots more hot pinks, reds and oranges. It has to do with excessive particles blocking out some colors and highlighting reds and oranges. If the winds change and it gets smoky again, then the haze takes over.
We go on with our headachy days and sleepless nights, craving big breaths of fresh air and the days when we can go back to our outdoor exercise routines.
These days are dark as we think about the people who burned alive in their cars or homes as they tried to escape; we have gratitude for the firefighters and responders, so many heroes; try to have more patience for one another.
And we all wait for rain. Yes, we say to ourselves, that’s what we need.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.