Saturday, October 28, 2006

Esperanza


It means hope.

Thursday morning, I saw the bright orange glow of a sunrise a full two hours before the sun came up. The fire had started on the hills just a couple of miles away from my school. If you stood at the flagpole, you could see the flames coursing down the side of the mountain; it looked like lava.

By lunchtime, we'd heard about the firefighters from Idyllwild, the ones who were engulfed in flames so quickly that four men from the Forest Service were killed, a fifth one in critical condition. We didn't know yet that someone in our district had lost a father and a teacher had lost his brother.

On the eve of Friday, the fire had split. One bank of flames was headed toward San Jacinto, the other towards our house. The main street of our town became the perimeter where they hoped to build a firebreak, preventing the Santa Ana winds from allowing the fire to jump the road. This photo, from the LA Times, shows crews working on that road yesterday.

I looked out this window behind me and saw the orange glow and the red flames creeping over the top of the badlands in our direction. All we knew was that it was spreading fast and was out of control.

We packed a bag. We turned off our gas. We tried not to think about last year, being awakened by a pounding on our door and someone telling us to get out of our apartment immediately. We hoped.

On Friday, it was homecoming. Our school, under a thick black cloud of smoke visible in satellite photos, held a rally in the gym and watched four boys compete to eat the most hot dogs. Kids cheered while their dads and older brothers risked their lives to keep us safe.

By late yesterday, the fire crossed the highway. It managed to reach a large landfill but they held it to the east along the rest of the highway, by the houses and golf courses. I can't see the fire from my window anymore, just the smoke. The worst is over. My husband won't need to go into work this weekend though he volunteered to help with fire safety command.

Now everyone is hoping they find the arsonist behind this blaze.

9 Comments:

Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Oh my God.

I didn't realize you were that close to the fire.

I'm so happy you're safe.

Yeharr

2:52 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Thanks. Me too.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Guy Wonders said...

Yikes. . . . I can't imagine such a fire, never mind that someone would set it on purpose.

7:16 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Our thoughts are with you and your community. Watching this from the East coast makes it more like a movie. We hear about the fires eery year but never really see them or know anyone who lives near them. This really puts things in perspective. I'm glad to hear you're okay.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Colleen said...

glad you guys are safe

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been absent from PC, Jesus, hope you're well and safe, my thoughts are with you and your family.

xxxxxxxxxx

10:11 AM  
Blogger James said...

Yeah. What they said. Be safe and well.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that was TOO close! I'm glad it's under control and you are safe.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Stormmaster said...

I thought that you would be close, when I saw the news. I didn't think you would be that close! I'm glad that you and your family are safe.

1:32 AM  

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