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Evacuation Focuses the Mind

May 12th, 2009 · 8 Comments · Random Stuff

Here in Santa Barbara, California, we’ve just gone through our fourth big wildfire in two years. The first wildfire was the Zaca fire in 2007 that burned in our “back country” and ended up being the second largest fire in California history. The Zaca fire threatened to come “over the hill” and burn Santa Barbara but was stopped before it made it. It burned for almost two months before it was fully contained, and then another two months before it was fully controlled and extinguished.

Then last summer (2008) we had the Gap fire, which burned within a stone’s throw of many houses but fortunately didn’t burn any homes. And last November we had the Tea fire, which burned and destroyed 210 homes. And now we’ve just had the Jesusita fire, which should be contained in the next few days, and burned and destroyed about 77 homes.

I mention all this because in both the Gap fire and the Jesusita fire, we packed our car with “valuables” and were prepared to leave at a moments notice if we saw flames. It’s an unpleasant feeling to have about 15 minutes to decide what to grab and then cram in the back of you car, and to think about driving away from your house and perhaps coming back to a smoldering ruin. Having gone through it twice, I’ve had enough, and hope to never go through it again. The experience does remind me though that life is about balance.

So what would you save from your house if you had 15 minutes to pack things into your car and drive away?


8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 JD at I Do Things // May 12, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Wow, I can’t imagine this. I feel so bad for all those poor people who lost their homes and belongings. People say material things can be replaced . . . but some of them can’t! Plus that takes money!

    If I had only 15 minutes, I’d grab my cats, laptop, iPod, my pile of journals, my purse . . . that’s probably about it, ‘cuz getting the cats stuffed into the pillowcases would take about 12 minutes.

  • 2 The Trade Show Guru // May 13, 2009 at 9:32 am

    hi JD,
    We had our cat carrier box out and were ready to corner and capture our cat, but luckily never had to. Our cat is definately on our list, though the tadpoles were slated to be left behind… (the tadpoles are doing fine by the way, and at least half are now frogs). ~ Steve

  • 3 Preston // May 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    15 minutes isn’t a lot of time. I’ve got 2 dogs and 4 cats to worry about so we’d have to get the dogs in one car and the cats in another. IF I still had time left, I’d grab all the photos I could get and my pc.

  • 4 The Trade Show Guru // May 15, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    hi Preston,
    That’s a lot of animals… are you running an animal hotel there? 🙂 We just have one cat, but it could probably take the full fifteen minutes just to corral and catch her. ~ Steve

  • 5 Will // May 20, 2009 at 12:12 am

    We have a friend who has lived in the hills just outside of town for at least 25 years. I actually spent a summer there probably 22 years ago. I went fishing offshore many mornings, launching my 6 foot inflatable boat through the surf early in the morning. I always got some interesting looks when I would ride back in through the waves in the afternoon with my catch of Bonita and Yellowtail. Looking back on it, I am lucky to have made it through the summer, sometimes I would paddle a mile of two off shore and the afternoon winds made it a real job getting back to land.

    Anyway, we did not have to deal with any fires that summer, but our friend has lived there through many close ones. He built his house to be as fire safe as possible, and it is still there.

  • 6 The Trade Show Guru // May 20, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    hi Will,
    “Bonita and Yellowtail”… yum!
    It seems the fires come in spurts… hopefully we’re done for a while. People that live in “high fire zones” should definately build fire-safe (as possible) houses and keep brush cleared, etc. It seems this time that those people that did this fared better that those that didn’t, but sometimes it seems just a matter of good or bad luck as to whether or not you lose your home.
    ~ Steve

  • 7 Master of the Philippines // Jun 2, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Wildfire? What’s that? Your new cover song or what? 😛

  • 8 The Trade Show Guru // Jun 2, 2009 at 11:32 am

    hey RT,
    I hope to never sing that song again! ~ Steve
    PS. I do have an “edit function”. It’s called “me”. 🙂
    PPS. An edit plug-in is on my to-do list.

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