Sunday, October 21, 2007

Southern California Ablaze...

Other than earthquakes, there's probably nothing more that we as Southern Californians fear more than forest fires. As I went to bed last night, one of the local news stations made mention that the so-called Santa Ana winds would be making their way into our area today. Sure enough, a little after 1 a.m. this morning a gust of wind woke me from my sleep... this would happen several times during the night. As I got up around 7:30 a.m. this morning, the winds continued. I knew more than likely that forest fires were soon to follow. A call just before 8 a.m. this morning from my sister confirmed my worst fears... A fire had been ignited by downed power lines three hours earlier in the nearby community of Malibu.

With that, my normal Sunday plans would be changed. The strong winds (gusting in excess of 80 MPH in many areas) made highway travel very dangerous. Instead of taking the 25 minute drive by freeway to my church in Simi Valley, I decided to spend the day with my family, taking the much less dangerous streets and canyon roads 15 minutes away... Though I tried to tune in the football games, auto races and other sporting events today, my main focus was on the news of the fires. As the day progressed, fire after fire broke out. One in Castaic, another in nearby Santa Rosa, then one in Agua Dulce. Smoke and soot from the Castaic fire actually blew more than 20 miles toward my local area for several hours in the late afternoon, turning day to near-night and making it next to impossible to breathe outside.

By 9 p.m. THIRTEEN separate fires had broken out in Southern California's mountains. Many of the fires are very near to homes - the worst one appeared to be the fire which had started in Agua Dulce. That particular fire moved approximately 10-15 miles in just four hours and was now bearing down on the Canyon Country community, threatening over 3,800 homes! As of this writing, 25 homes had already been destroyed in Canyon Country. Sadly, I'm afraid that this figure could reach triple digits by morning.

With winds expected to stay strong in the area through Tuesday and with temperatures expected to rise, things could actually get a lot worse before they get better. Please keep your thoughts and prayers with all of the people here in Southern California, particularly those that have already lost their homes...


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