Monday, October 22, 2007

FIRE in the air! -- post 2

UPDATED 9 PM: The Harris fire has continued to advance westward toward Chula Vista. It has not reached Otay Lakes yet (they form a natural barrier to much of eastern Chula Vista, called Eastlake) but it may during the night or tomorrow morning. There is a mandatory evacuation for the northeastern part of Eastlake - the area on the southern slope of Mount San Miguel. There is a voluntary evacuation call for some of the Eastlake area. The latter is about 6 miles east of us. The winds where I am (just west of I-805 off East Naples) were pretty low all day, but they have been higher out in the back country.

The news media tries so hard, but they don't do live TV well with place names and they don't have a lot of good information. The radio is better with phone callers saying where there is fire or evacuations.

Our 2-year old granddaughter came down with family friends from Victorville on Saturday night, and our daughter was supposed to come get her and take her home today. She couldn't come due to the closure of I-15. The friends evacuated from Eastlake to Lemon Grove, so we have our precious Lolo for probably two nights. She had a rough time going to sleep tonight. We hope there is enough good air to go have fun with her on Tuesday.

The weather report is that the winds will pick up again on Tuesday morning, and die down quite a bit by Tuesday night. I can see the Harris fire going up the southeast side of Mount San Miguel and over it into Spring Valley. It's already advancing on Jamul, which is to the east of the mountain.

If the wind shifts from westerly to southwesterly (which it might), the fire could advance into Eastlake and the city of Chula Vista (which is about 12 miles wide east-west and about 5 miles long (north-south) with 250,000 residents. There aren't too many evacuation centers left now - my thought is that we go rent a room in Coronado and have fun on the beach.

Historically the 1971 fire burned over Mount Miguel and advanced into what is now eastern Chula Vista (which wasn't there in 1971), and the 2003 fire burned right up to Otay Lakes but not up and over San Miguel. There is not the high acreage for this fire (in 2003, there were 245,000 acres burned - about 400 square miles) the total in the county is something like 170,000 acres. The reports say that 600 homes and 1 life have been lost so far in the county, which has 13 separate fires burning, nowhere near the 2003 fire numbers -- 2,000 homes, 15 lives -- at least yet. They may find some people in cars along Highway 94 near where the fire started, or some illegals that crossed the border, but nobody's looking yet - they're too busy fighting the winds and the fires.

The evacuations have gone fairly well - many people find shelter with friends and family, but the community shelters are full and up to speed, I heard there were 10,000 at Qualcomm Stadium.

It may be a long night for some people near the fire lines. A blog with frequent posts is at

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