Friday, October 17, 2008

DO NOT WANT, West Coast Edition

A while ago, Ruth posted an entry in her blog about the unwelcome approach of a hurricane, apparently headed straight for her home in coastal South Carolina.

Coastal California isn't immune to seasonal hazards, either, and the Fall hazard is fire, especially this year. We have had two straight years of much lower than usual rainfall, and so even the normally fire-resistant redwood forests (such as the one we live in here in the Santa Cruz Mountains) are virtually explosive, especially the undergrowth of hardwoods, Douglas Fir, and brush. So I was not at all pleased a few days ago when I arrived home (after having taken a couple of our animals to the vet) to see this in the cul-de-sac adjacent to a back boundary of Ft. Harrington:

Boulder Creek's Finest in Action

For the past week, the late nights and early mornings hereabouts have been chilly, including the first frosts of the season, even though the days continue to be hot (and very dry). Our nearest neighbor to the north (just across the fence from the gazebo area of Ft. Harrington) lit a trash fire in her wood-burning stove that morning to get warm, since her electricity had been turned off for non-payment sometime in the summer, and she didn't have any firewood. She left while the fire was still burning, and sparks from the paper in the trash fire survived their rise through the chimney and set her roof on fire.

The fire was noticed right away by an alert neighbor on the other side of the creek, who did a 9-1-1 shout-out to the Boulder Creek firehouse, and then drove to the nearest bridge across the creek and back to the cul-de-sac. Not raising anyone with her shouts, she found a hose outside a neighboring house and started trying to spray the roof fire with its pathetic little stream.

The BCFD was all over the case like flies on, ah... well, stuff, though, and arrived right then. The fire was out very quickly after they arrived, according to Diane, who had been unaware of the fire until seconds before the fire trucks arrived when she saw big, gray ash flakes falling on our deck -- and flames leaping from the far end of our neighbor's roof.

Putting away equipment. The derelict truck with the broken-windowed camper shell belongs to our firestarter's ex-husband, and hasn't moved for at least two years. ===>

Emergency flasher reflected in our garden house
<=== window.

The roof in the background of the last photo is the one that caught fire. Due to the telephoto's distance-squashing effect, it appears much closer to our fence than it really is. I don't have a photo of the area of damage, but it was small. It's been covered by a tarp, and our neighbor continues to live in the house.

We're all keeping an eye on her.


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Ah sheesh, that was an unwelcome adrenaline rush!

The neighbor who didn't stop with calling 911, but went that extra mile, is a good good neighbor to have.

ronnie said...

That's the terrifying thing about fire - doesn't matter how careful YOU are, someone else's carelessness can harm you. Glad things were brought under control and kudos to the BCFD!

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Further thought - which is never a bad idea - has made me realize something. I've simply assumed that your fire hazards and our hurricane hazards were similar; that either could take out the house left behind, but that, as we do, you had days of lead time to watch a fire's direction and progress, so you could plan your evacuation.

This post made me realize that (duh-oh!) that depends on where the fire starts.

Anonymous said...

Asbestos fences make the best neighbors. I'm surprised their dog didn't try to commit suicide earlier. Glad you guys are OK.


Sherwood Harrington said...

Poor old Jake was gone before this episode, Adam. The nutcase's nutcase mother told Diane during the hullabaloo, when Diane asked if Jake made it through okay, "He's been dead for three weeks." No more detail than that, but he won't be escaping from second-floor windows anymore.

He was a good dog for a long time, and I'll miss him.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Added on February 8, 2009: I mention in this entry that I was returning "after having taken a couple of our animals to the vet" when I came on this situation.

One of the animals was Oolie, and his checkup was clean and wonderful.

Four months later, he was gone.