Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Fire Rages On

The "Chips" fire from our front window
And on another day.....
The Chips Fire began in the Feather River Canyon NW of Quincy on Sunday, July 29th. When fire personnel arrived on the scene, the fire was 15 acres in size. The fire has now burned over 50,000 acres and it is still burning. Check out a NASA satellite photo of it here. When I worked for the Forest Service at Lake Tahoe, I saw the Fire Management Officer (FMO) pull out all the stops when a fire started in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Those first hours of a fire a crucial and this man was fearless in his conviction. In a world-renown tourist destination full of million dollar homes, a large scale wildfire is unthinkable. In South Lake Tahoe in 2007, the 3100 acre Angora Fire destroyed 242 residences and 67 commercial structures, and damaged 35 other homes. It was among the top half-dozen most costly fires in the U.S.

Now that the Chips Fire has grown so large and cost so much in dollars and habitat destruction, etc., it is tempting to be critical of the early management of the fire but in all fairness, conditions were not on the side of the fire fighters. We had a light winter and the fuels out there were dry to begin with. Add to that high temperatures, steep terrain, extremely low humidity, and afternoon winds and you've got yourself a problem.

The communities to the north of us have bore the brunt of the smoke but we have had our share as well. There are good days and bad days depending on the winds. On the bad days ash rains down, the sun is cranberry colored, and we keep all the windows closed to avoid breathing the thick, particulate-filled air. It can be rather surreal and oppressive. On good (for us) days the smoke stays to the north as seen in the photos above and we are in the clear.

On clear days, I hike when I can. Here is a photo of the fire from the top of Spanish Peak off the PCT:
Another day the smoke moved in during my hike up and when I got to Spanish Peak, I was in a white fog of smoke with hardly any visibility.
A clear day at Gold Lake
Seaweed snack
So life goes on, despite the fire. Our stream of house guests has come to an end for the time being. Below is an image from our last set of friends' visit. A truly summer scene.
Sandals left by the back door in between trips to the creek and strolls to town
And this last image from our back patio of mead and wild blackberries, geraniums and a new yard sale table in use. Speaking of blackberries, they are coming on strong here now; earlier than in most years. Leo and I go blackberry picking every other day or so. Sweetness......
Enjoy and if you have clean air, take a deep breath and be thankful!


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