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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?


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