Sunday, May 10, 2009

All's Quiet on the Fire Front

Those who were here in May, 2000 and saw the fire sweep through town on the 10th can feel a bit of compassion for Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition President Ralph Fertig and the Santa Barbara folks. Ralph posted this email to his cycling friends.
To my friends,

This morning I woke at my evacuation motel to a fog, cool temperatures, and a breeze off the ocean. It was a radical change from the 90 degree heat, low moisture, and strong winds that drove the Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara for 4 days.

Statistics released tonight said that 50,000 people had been evacuated, 8700 acres burned, 80 homes destroyed or damaged, and 4300 fire fighters\ were on the ground. They say the fire is now 40% contained, and believe that another day like this will bring it totally under control. I also heard that a local bike shop lost 400 bikes stored in a barn in the fire

I was allowed to return home this afternoon about 3:30. I picked up cat Luke at the cat animal shelter where cat carriers were stacked to the ceiling. They said that 250 evacuated cats were there, the volunteers were working nearly 24 hours a day. Nearby in other animal shelters, I could hear LOTS of dogs barking, a rooster crowing, and heaven knows what other creatures were quietly slithering around.

The entire day was cool, about 70 degrees and mostly cloudy. Exactly what we all were hoping for. I spent most of it returning to my barricaded roadway every 2 hours, but couldn't get past the police. (They were very nice, but firm.) I finally got home, brought Luke inside, unpacked my bike, computer, clothing and documents. Took a nap, had a beer, started a load of laundry, washed the ash off my car, put a carrot-turkey meatloaf in the oven, and now am facing a 4-day backlog of catching up.

People are asking whether our Western drought is fueled by climate change. This was the third Santa Barbara fire in a year, totally unprecented. Each one has burned a separate section of chaparrel in the National Forest and the adjacent foothill areas, but they DID occur. If we're destroying our world, I hope that we can halt the process before we all drown, burn, get blown away -- and take down most other species with us.

I see that a beautiful full moon has risen above the hills east of me. Perhaps you are looking at the same one. It brings an illusion of stability to our changing planet.

~~ Ralph Fertig

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