My thoughts & prayers are with all of my family and friends in California right now. I just turned on my computer and read about the loss of two firefighters and as always, my heart sank. I dreaded reading the article in fear of them being someone I know. We have a lot of friends who are firefighters in California. Fortunately, I don't know the two that died, but my heart still goes out to their families.
Having lived in Southern California all my life, brush fires are no stranger to me. I've watched the mountains burn many times and have packed up belongings in case of evacuations. It's not fun. The combination of the chaparral, the oaks, the steep terrain, and the lack of rain always make for scary situations when it comes to brush fires. I'll never forget the great 1985 fire in Ojai that burned for weeks. The smoke and ash are a health hazard, and then there's the eerie glow, like in the picture above. That picture was taken during a Santa Barbara fire in 2006 right before we moved away.
We've been very lucky this year in Montana. Our first summer here was awful and there were fires all around us. My ILs came up to visit August 2007 and they could hardly see the mountains or valleys because there was so much smoke. It was a familiar feeling to us, though the smell was different. In Montana, it's pine trees, so it smells like a giant campfire. Brush fires are scary, but forest fires are even more scary for me. Montana doesn't have the resources California has when it comes to fighting fire. In addition, it's really hard to fight the fires when they're in the middle of the forest. This summer we've been really fortunate and haven't had any.
To my California family and friends -- you're in my thoughts and prayers. Stay safe. You know the routine. Stay inside if you can and go if they tell you to go. I hope they get some containment soon.