UPDATE: 11:10 am. Things are now getting worse in my county, Orange. It had been low priority because no homes were severely threatened and consequently resources were not staged there - now, however, the situation has turned and it's questionable whether any will be able to be ready anytime soon. I have the radio on at work to try to keep up on things. I am in the Inland Empire, in Chino Hills, and the air quality is absolutely horrid.
Orange County updates are here.
UPDATE: 6:57 am. Heavy, heavy smell of smoke in the air and hot already. It is nauseating. Daybreak, unfortunately, will bring the winds back and daylight is expected to reveal more homes lost, especially in the San Bernardino Mountains and San Diego County. For the latter, the Witch Fire seems to be on a relentless march straight to the ocean, through the heart of San Diego county.
UPDATE: 8:50 pm. Karen over at Gem of the Ocean is reporting voluntary evacuation from Del Mar. I see online that Del Mar Race Track is at capacity as a temporary shelter, and now they are starting to re-evacuate people there up to El Toro High School in Orange County. Karen also has a good link for updates on the fires in San Diego County.
The Red Cross has an online "safe" list that you can access to search for loved ones or add your own name if you are in a fire area (or have been evacuated from one).
Latest reports on the fire in Orange County can be found at the Orange County Register.
As I write this, half the power in our house is out since the winds toppled a utility pole into our neighbors' tree line, blowing out some lines. However, thank God, we are safe and are nowhere near the fires. To the east of us in Santa Ana, some distance away, is the Santiago Canyon fire and earlier I heard reports that a fire had started in Anaheim Hills, another part of Orange County.
Anytime the Santa Anas blow, your neighborhood can be in danger. You do not have to live near any foothills or canyons to have a spark start something, that will just grow exponentially. A common site in Southern California are palm trees that - unfortunately - light up like match sticks.
Today was clean-up day after my church's annual fiesta this past weekend. What a job! The wind was blowing and the dust was awful. The parish manager and I went to return unused items to Smart & Final and the sky was dun-colored from the smoke as we drove along First Street in Santa Ana - horrible, horrible air quality. We stopped at Pizza Hut to pick up lunch for the volunteer crew and I remarked to the local mailman who came walking by with his cart how smart he was, since he put on a painter's mask to complete his rounds.
Saturday night was a delight with a great local band playing at the fiesta. Then around 3:00 am on Sunday morning, I woke up and groaned - the winds had come and I knew we were in for a tough Sunday. Still, no one was going to keep us St. Joseph parishioners from attending our fiesta and we persevered. All of us on the fiesta committee kept hoping that with nightfall, the winds would die down. Well, they dissipated some but just before dusk, we could see a huge smoke cloud building in the sky to the east of us - that was the Santiago Canyon fire in Irvine and people whipped out cell phones to make sure friends and family in that area were safe. And yet, the band played on, and it was another year when I did not win the grand prize in the raffle drawing, and this morning saw the usual suspects, including our pastor, bleary-eyed but ready to get down and dirty, and clean up so our school kids could return tomorrow to class (the fiesta is held on the school grounds).
God bless the firefighters who are out there tonight, and may He send His angels to protect them and give them strength. This is a terrible situation in Southern California and the weather promises at least one more day of high winds and low humidity. The Santiago Canyon fire, it's being reported, is the work of arson . . . why? Keep us in your prayers, especially those folks in San Diego county and up by Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino mountains, who are getting the worst of things.