Friday, August 14, 2009

Firetime Again

Today is the second full day of a serious wildfire in our vicinity, the coastal redwood forests of the northern part of Santa Cruz County, California. The fire is large, and largely uncontained at this point, but so far has not taken any lives or structures. Also, while only about four miles from us, geography (it's on the other side of a steep mountain) and prevailing winds are keeping our San Lorenzo Valley from danger.

This time.

Above: a panorama of smoke from the fire, made from five frames. This view is from a vista point along California Highway 9 about halfway along my workaday commute from Boulder Creek to Cupertino. Ft. Harrington is located just a little bit left of the center of the panorama; Monterey Bay and the more distant mountains of Big Sur are at left. If you click on this to see it larger (and I urge that you do!), it will take you to a 2500-pixel wide version that you can scroll around for good detail.

The fire is called the "Lockheed" fire because it is suspected to have started somewhere near a research facility that Lockheed-Martin has atop Ben Lomond Mountain. There is no current suspicion that the facility had anything to do with the fire (and the campus is not in danger from the flames at present), but the folks at Lockheed are probably not happy with the name.

The research facility is near the location of two of my favorite photos:

October, 2005

March, 2006, with a rare dusting of snow

I hope this lovely home of horses has been spared.

[Click here for a short time-lapse movie of smoke billowing over the top of Ben Lomond Mountain.]



Xtreme English said...

you live in such a beautiful place! the fires are a natural phenomenon, despite the fact that human carelessness causes many. four miles is not far for a fire to travel. glad the wind is keeping you safe.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

I guess that, like our hurricanes, it's a thing that you guys just have to face periodically, but the fires are worse in a host of ways. Hope you - and your air quality - stay safe.

ronnie said...

Our thoughts are with you. BC has had devastating fires this season as well. Fire is so fickle and violent.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Today (Sunday, August 16th) the Lockheed fire seems well on its way to containment, and, unless something completely unexpected happens, lives and structures will not be lost in it.

The light winds have shifted somewhat, though, bringing a haze of yellow smoke down into the valley on this side of the mountain, including Ft. Harrington's hollow. It brings a heavy feeling with it; as the old saw goes, "Maybe it's good to be able to see what you're breathing," but it's never good when you can feel its grit between your teeth.

And, ronnie: You know what I flashed on first when I read "BC" in your comment? Nope, not Johnny Hart's strip, nor "British Columbia," but "Boulder Creek."

Thanks, all, for your good wishes.

ronnie said...

Sherwood, is the smoke affecting the animals? Are they upset or alarmed? Fear of fire is one of all of our most primeval instincts. I hate to think of the Ft. Harrington crew being stressed out. (Of course, I hope by far it's the worst upset they may experience related to this.)

Sherwood Harrington said...

We all thank you for the concern, ronnie, but the animals don't seem to be stressing about things at all. I'm sure they can smell the smoke, but they're used to wood smoke. (During winter, about 3/4 of the homes hereabouts are heated by woodstoves. We have a propane furnace, but use our woodstove occasionally, too.)

It's been irritating (literally) for Diane and me, but not a big deal at all. The Lockheed fire is now sufficiently under control that people are being let back into their homes in the evacuation area -- and we felt secure enough today to take a day trip down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

Adam said...

Awesome time lapse!

Well..... not awesome for some, unfortunately, but awesome none the less.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Thanks for noticing, Adam. I was beginning to worry that the animated GIF wasn't working, and that nobody could see it!

That's a capability of Photoshop that I'm excited about learning more about. Time-lapse is, of course, possible with our old video camera, but the vastly larger image sizes provided by the Nikon present concomitantly larger possibilities.

We'll see.