Friday, September 11, 2009

Fire on the mountain -- way too close

I came home tonight to the dulcet sounds of chainsaws on the hill above our house and the acrid smell of burned chapparal, but the fire Jen had called me about while I was riding the train home was out. We live on the Ortega side of Lake Elsinore, with the first couple of Ortega Highway switchbacks as it climbs the steep hill above us just above our house. Jen said that the entire crown of the mountain burned, then the fire jumped the upper stretch of road. The firefighters attacked it with three helicopters and three planes, one the water-scooper that sits on Lake Elsinore during fire season, the other two with retardant. By the time I got home they were looking for embers or sparks and cutting -- well, I don't know exactly, guess we'll be able to see in the morning, but it went on for quite some time.

I don't know the acreage yet, but it seems to have been a relatively small one and out quickly. Still, and the height the flames were incredibly high. I remember about 15 years ago I was home when a fire came bursting over the crest of the hill and down over the upper stretch of road. It was impressive and hot and more than a little frightening. That was closer -- they sprayed retardant all over everybody's yard and remnants were around for months, but we didn't mind. All the neighbors were out wetting foliage (fortunately we have tile roofs) and we had then car loaded and ready to flee, but we didn't have to then either.

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