I am a lifetime Californian, and in my nearly 28 years, there have been two major fires that have started during my birthday parties. Having a birthday on October 25th will do that.
On my 12th birthday party, held on the Saturday before my actual birthday, the Oakland Hills Fire started that evening, October 19th, 1991. I had a slumber party and one of my friends was unable to return home in the morning. His parent left home to fetch him and was unable to return; that’s how fast that fire moved once the winds increased in the morning. His house didn’t burn down, but I had numerous friends who weren’t as lucky. There was a very good chance that the fire might have burnt down my family’s home. Fortunately for us, the wind shifted and burned other people’s homes. Over 3,000 of them.
For my first year here in San Diego, I spent my actual birthday evening with a few new friends, and unknown to us the Cedar Fire had already begun. It did not get big until the 26th, and continued to burn for days. School was canceled and the sky turned deep orange with all the soot in the air. The photo above is a true-color image taken on October 28th, 2003.
Well, it’s starting to look like a near-repeat. As I sit here, four days from my birthday, there are two major fires burning east of here, and it’s getting smoky and orange here already. The culprit is what it always is, Santa Ana Winds. Today has been very gusty and as you can see from the normally straight tree on the left, the wind is strong. It’s actually very unpleasant when the air gets this smoky. We’ve tried closing all the windows but our apartment is very poorly sealed.
The fires already have names, the Potrero Fire and the Highway 78 fire. There’s also a major fire burning in Malibu. It’s very unlikely that the fires will make their way all the way west to La Jolla, but the Cedar fire made it onto Miramar MCAS, which is only a few miles directly east of here.
The photo below I took an hour or two ago. That’s a large cloud of smoke drifting just north of me. I fear that we will have a repeat of four years ago and we’ll live in a smoky, orange world for the next few days.