California On Fire Again

Gulls and Sailboat, San Francisco Bay, California

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.

Sierra Nevada Mountains, California


California Quail, California’s state bird


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.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California


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.


Cows, Wildflowers, Carrizo Plains, CA


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.


Elephant Seals, California coast


Two days this week the local schools were closed. There is a website map they consult,, 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.


San Francisco skyline, Sunrise after the 2017 fires


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.


Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California


Big Sur, California

Western Gull, Bodega Bay, California


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.

McWay Falls, Big Sur, California


California Poppy, state flower



118 thoughts on “California On Fire Again

  1. Glad you posted this. Couldn’t believe the extent of severity of the air quality Northern California experienced with the fires. It had to of brought back a sad reminder of what you guys went through last year.
    The Woolsey fire down here burnt through just to the west of us…we’re 15 miles east of Calabasas, which was the closest it was to us as it burned down towards (and eventually hitting) Malibu. From our perspective it looked like a giant thunderhead. We only had a couple of days of pour air quality with most of the smoke going out over the ocean. Nothing compared to what Northern California experienced. Glad to hear all is well at this point!

    • I am glad to hear the report of the Woolsey fire area, Kirt. We watched a Rams game soon after the fire and couldn’t believe how clear your air was! But fortunately the rains have come here and cleared the air. I have never been so glad to gulp fresh air in my life. Thanks so much, Kirt, for your contribution and concern.

      • We were lucky down here with the air quality. Our daughter is pregnant (7 months) with number two and she is very focused on air quality especially during her pregnancy. There was a day right after the fire that the winds changed and brought some of the smoke into the LA Basin….she truly is into the air issue and knew that their house by Griffith Park had poorer air than where we live, so spent the day with us….loved having Mom and Dad with our granddaughter spend the day. We talked a lot about the air issue you guys were going through… best to you!

  2. Jet, I am happy to know you are safe, and understand these fires have been devastating for so many people. Those who survived may not be able to move back home, for a long time or ever. I was thinking about you when I saw and red about these fires…must be hard to experience them again although at some distance. I am hoping for rain soon. Hugs

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Helen. I am happy to report that we have had several days of rain, the air has cleared, the dust has been washed away, and it came down rather intermittently, not doing a lot of flood or erosion damage. We are in good shape, new growth can now begin. Thanks so much.

  3. I am happy to know you are safe and thank you for describing what daily life is like in this new reality. It’s all so difficult to imagine, even when watching reports on the evening news. Praying for the right amount of rain to arrive soon…

    • Thank you so very much, Barbara. I am happy to report that we have had many inches of rain in northern California since then, the fire was 100% contained about two weeks ago, and we are all breathing easier. I am certain there are many people who will remain homeless for years to come, as we were displaced for a year in last year’s fire, and our house didn’t even burn (but all our utilities had to be rebuilt). Your concern and kindness are much appreciated.

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