Fires in Southern California
Word from relatives in San Diego
by Pinedale Online!
October 24, 2007
The wildfires burning in southern California are a long ways from Wyoming, but many of us here have friends and relatives there and are watching the situation very closely. We had our own brush with a fire at the outskirts of town last July.
At last word today (Wednesday), the California fires have consumed more than 430,000 acres and destroyed over 14,000 homes. 25,000 structures remain threatened. The mainstream media has been great to keep us informed.
We have relatives living in San Diego and want to add in the comments from this e-mail update we received last night and today from Ron May who has an archaeology and historic preservation consulting firm in the San Diego area:
(Tuesday, October 23, 2007)
“Yes, we are all packed and waiting for an evacuation order here in the northern section of San Diego. I am hoping that we will not have to leave the area, but...
“The news tonight reported 514,000 people have been evacuated in San Diego and 950,000 in Southern California, which makes this the largest evacuation in American history since the Civil War. President Bush is arriving in San Diego on Thursday and FEMA is on the scene making hollow announcements. When NBC and ABC national news arrived today, they expected to see a scene similar to New Orleans at Qualcomm Stadium (our football field). Instead, they found roving bands of clowns, jugglers, kids playing checkers, medics taking care of all the infirmed, and 10,000 happy people tailgating in the parking lot. We expect 12,000 people tonight. The only problem the emergency shelters are having is a shortage of porta potties and showers, which will be solved by overcoming personal shyness and opening the Chargers' shower facilities.
The losses to property is not precisely known, but at least 1,250 houses have burned, over 250 commercial buildings, at least one City of San Diego, Historical Landmark, the 1870 Sikes Adobe burned, and thousands of people lost everything. The outpouring from the public is astonishing, as much so as the organization and willingness to carry out official direction.
The San Diego Archaeological Center in San Pasqual Valley was completely surrounded by enormous firestorm flames, but the fuelbreak spared the building. The nearby Battle of San Pasqual (Mexican War of 1846) State Park visitor center lost part of the public toilet and a building wall.
The Wild Animal Park animals are safe and the condors have been relocated to a safe sanctuary. The elephants and giraffes are out in a field that is a very long way from brush or flamable materials. Needless to say, the place is closed indefinitely.
The only colleague who is known to have lost a house is Mike Baksh, who is president of Tierrra Environmental and former president of the San Diego Archaeological Center. But many colleagues live in areas that were evacuated and hit pretty hard by the Witch Creek and Harris Fires, so who really knows the toll right now?” - Ron May, Legacy 106, Inc.
Additional comment added today (Wednesday, October 24, 2007):
“The anchor for NBC TV news announced Tuesday night that 950,000 people have been evacuated in Southern California, which is the largest civilian evacuation since the U.S. Civil War. As of 3:00 pm today, 560,000 people in San Diego County were evacuated and not a single hotel, motel, apartment, or dog house is available for rent. All the other people are flowing to football stadiums, churches, schools, and public parking lots. The State Agricultural fair grounds are loaded with horses, cattle, and other livestock and begging for green hay. Everything is working very well in the evacuations and there has been minimal looting (2 teens were arrested in Ramona for stealing beer).
The big outrage in San Diego has been the California Department of Forestry, which continues to refuse to allow six (6) Air National Guard C-130 air tankers capable of dropping fire retardant over 1/4 mile of fire line and 12 Navy and 4 Marine Corps fire fighting helicopters. Two U.S. Senators and Four Congressmen have been unable to force the California Department of Forestry to allow the air tankers to fly. A current popular theory is the state officials signed a secret contract with the private fire fighting air craft owners that prohibits military or other government fire fighting air craft from flying.“