End in Sight?

October 25, 2007

After another day of fighting fires, the LA fires are now almost under full containment.  More more have been put out.  Two fires have been confirmed as arson, with one arsonist captured (for two fires in Temecula).  A $120,000 reward is being offered for the second, for the Santiago fire in Orange County.  It has been confirmed to have had 3 ignition points, and though it was at 50% containment yesterday, due to on shore winds, it fell to 30% overnight.  With all the canyons in the area, air support will be crucial in getting this fire back under containment.

The San Bernardino fires in Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear are still going.  The Grass fire has now claimed 300 homes.  The Slide fire, because of terrain remains out of control and continues east.  The skies all around it lay heavy with smoke.  Voluntary evacuations in th area have shut down local schools.  My kids are home for the next two days because of them and concerns of air quality.  Air support will also be crucial for this fire, though as it moves closer to Highway 18, the firefighters have more room to get at it and put up breaks.

The four major fires in San Diego County are still at only 20-30% contained at best, but firefighters are still working hard at getting them under control.  People are slowly being allowed to return to their homes as areas are deemed safe.  Though the outpouring of volunteers at Qualcomm Stadium has been amazing.  Evacuees have had practically every need taken care off; food, clothing beds, showers.  The scenes there show how great human compassion can be when we really try.

Today will be a real make-or-break for these last fires.  Air support has become key to firefighting in California.  And, even though the Santa Anas are gone, the danger isn’t.  Smoke rising straight up make visibility almost nil for pilots that must get in close to ridges and terrain to make their drops count.  It’s a kind of flying that takes skill and training.  But hope is rising with the smoke that there is an end in sight.

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