We woke to horror this morning. Not one of those distant horrors (which are none the less horrifying due to their lack of proximity) but one at a spot I drive by every trip to the hangar.

Then in the afternoon I started to hear the sirens. Along Ventura Boulavard, the major thoroughfare where my office is located, it’s not unusual to hear sirens – but not one after another after another. Then I heard the planes.

Taking off out of Van Nuys, the Canadian fire fighting water bombers are a bad sign on a dry, windy day.

You know how much I love planes, but I prefer days when these guys get to stay on the ground.

The big fire here is out by Camarillo, near the hangar. It’s now at or above 20,000 acres and at last report there were hundreds of houses burned. But the really, really BIG fire in California is up by Chico, north of Sacramento, with possibly a thousand or more houses burned.

Then, near the end of the day today, while I was watching coverage of the Camarillo fire, they mentioned another fire that had just started up, just over the Ventura County line, near the old Rocketdyne test site out in the hills to the west of our house. You’ve seen the view from our neighborhood:

The fire is just on the other side of that big hill just to the left of center.

I decided to take off out of the office a few minutes early, just in case.

From the parking lot at work, about five miles away, you could easily see open flame along the hills.

Yeah, there on the right? That’s not a third light on that pole. That’s the hill burning over past our house.

Then after dark, the winds really started to howl:

With the humidity dropping down into low single digits (I didn’t even know you could get to only 2% relative humidity without being on Mars!) the small fire near us got bigger quickly.

Those multi-million dollar houses up at the top of Bell Canyon? Fantastic views of the city looking this way, great views of the open spaces and sunsets to the west. Amazing locations – until the fire starts marching toward your back yard.

I hope they just left the lights on before they evacuated instead of still being there.

Look at how low the smoke is lying, a sign that the winds are still blowing at 25 to 30 knots with gusts to 45. If it’s not that windy the smoke will billow upward.

There are a dozen or so helicopters still doing water drops, constantly ferrying back and forth between Chatsworth Reservoir and the fire site. It’s going to be a long, long night for all of those people.

Bell Canyon is under mandatory evacuations, and the Hidden Hills (gated community) at Valley Circle and the 101 Freeway (about three miles to our south) have been evacuated. The entire city of Calabasas is on watch – if this explodes and gets out of control it will go right through Calabasas, all the way to the Pacific Ocean in Malibu.

(We’re just above the “W” in “West Hills.”)

I’m not too worried about being in a lot of danger or needing to evacuate. The fire is to our west and being pushed from the north to the south. Even with the flames and smoke less than two miles away, we can’t even smell any of the smoke.

I’ll sleep with one nostril open just in case that changes, but in the meantime I’m going to try to get some sleep and hope that we don’t wake up to an even bigger fire or another mass shooting tomorrow morning.

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Filed under Disasters, Photography

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