Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mom, the fire is coming down the hill fast,the wind is pushing the fire in the direction of our house...


Photo credit: San Diego Union Tribune. Aviara Oaks Middle School, Ball field, Carlsbad, CA. 5/14/2014 #poinsettiafire

I got a phone call from my daughter around mid day on 5/14/2014  "Mom, the fire is coming down the hill fast; the wind is pushing the fire right for our house!"

I told her to follow school instructions, NOT to go to our house to try and get our cats, (Promise me you will NOT try to go in the house and get the cats!) and that someone would pick her up soon. 

I was a work an hour away. Traffic was gridlocked. We had planned what to do if there was a fire or evacuation. I would call the neighbors and a person would take the cats and my computer out of my house if we got the call to evacuate. Another person would pick up my daughter or she would ride home with a known neighbor. The plan worked well.  We would all meet up somewhere else (2-3 choices picked) depending on what locations had evacuation orders.

Power was cut to the homes around the fire, so an extra key was assessed. A co-worker tried to drive me home and we were stopped on the I-5, about half an hour a way from Carlsbad, due to another fire. While we back tracked to work to get to air conditioning ( it was 101 F, wind gusts up to 50 miles an hour) I got the call. 

"I'm at your house, I need to get the cats, the computer, and I need to do it really fast."  My neighbor was running at top speed though my house. I gave him instructions, kept calm and hung up. I had a melt down. I my co-worker did a good job of soothing me "Evac areas are wide and they evacuate more houses and only a few burn!" True that! We stopped at Starbucks and I soothed with an Americano coffee and watched the twitter feed.

At that point, I had to let go. I had to get in the sit and wait mode. I made peace that I may or may not go back to a standing house. I made some jokes at that point. " I won't have to pay the plumber to put in new toilets!!" We went back to work and ate lunch. I got word that my  cats were at a down town Carlsbad dentist and my daughter was moved from the first location which was close to being evacuated (thank God for neighbors nearby). I had a second friend pick up the cats from downtown and they were moved a into a bathroom for safe keeping, until my daughter and her dad could pick them up.

We finally made it home. I stayed with my friend from work. She has lots of room, eats a similar food template, and is also a long time friend. She even wears my size of clothes and had grass-fed beef, broccoli and avocados from her tree for me for dinner. It doesn't get any better than that. We watched the fire coverage. "That's right by my house!" and then Survivor. 

A family friend bicycled home that day and was able to tell me my house was still standing, but a few at the top of the hill had burned. Trouble is that high winds and embers can travel and land in attics and roofs.  I texted the info to the neighbors. We were happy, but also knew that things could change quickly. The winds died down overnight.

I took the next day off work. We were fortunate. The winds turned before the fire spread down our hill. Many were not so lucky. Cities around Carlsbad were hit even harder for up to 2 days after the original fires started.  Since the winds changed directions, the ash was minimal and clean up was easy this time around. Other fires have created raining ash and clean up took longer those years.

Due to the heat and power outage, I lost everything perishable in the refrige and freezer, but it was a small loss in comparison.

Okay: Regular readers, you know the drill

What worked:
0. The first responders were excellent! Fire fighters, pilots, police, neighbors helping neighbors
1. Having an accessible key and not relying on the power to the garage door from the outside.
2. Placing a cat carrier in an easy to find location.
3. Planning to meet in a general location, but several choices, not just one.
4. Choosing simple, yet important items for my neighbor to grab.
5. Having extra clothes, thyroid meds, and chargers and a little cash $$ at work
6. Having extra charging cables at work for car/wall charging so my phone would work.
7. Staying on my food template. Stress can trigger old binge eating habits. Food won't fix fires!
8. Asking for help from friends.
9. Texting neighbors, Facebook, and Twitter feeds were a quick way to communicate. 
10. Being fat adapted meant I could eat lunch later and still think and be on my feet.
11. School texts and emails were very informational. So were the cities Facebook and Tweets. Kudos!

What didn't work:
1. Gridlocked traffic everywhere.
2. Amazon had delivered a new toilet to my front door and the  two huge boxes made it a little bit of a barrier. Glad the fire did not make it to my house, it would have looked like I was a crazy toilet collector lady!!  "Looks like all that are left are many toilets scattered through out the house.."
3. Not being able to get back to haul out the meat/seafood in the freezer. No use crying over spoiled shrimp and ground bison.  I spent some time batch cooking this weekend.
4. Reverse 911 was about 12 hours late... hello??  This is when 911 calls you and tells you to evacuate.
5. Binge eating over stressful events during the 2007 fires. It only made me feel worse and never made the problem better.
6. People seeing smoke, getting nervous, and purposely running red lights. 

I'll do a follow up post about staying in my food template during power outages. I don't eat off food template then, either.   Hope you are all well. Back to regular this week. I took time to walk at the beach and rest and relax a bit.  Fire Sunset on 5/15/2014. One day after the many San Diego County fires burning.


  1. Oh my goodness, I'm so glad everyone is well and your house didn't burn. How scary for you all. When I heard the location of these fires my first thought was you - I had a feeling you lived there. So scary.

    1. Thanks, Lynda! Most of the fires are to our east where there is more open space and brush. With the high winds, the fire was jumping large 6 lane roads. When that happens, we are at the mercy of the wind. Just so glad they could get it stopped. There were 22 structures burned in my area and it could have easily been 200-400 until the fire got to the coast or they got more planes in. Just glad it's over

  2. glad it all went well. We had a sizable amount of grit/soot INSIDE as well as out. Winds apparently brought a lot of Pendleton ash our way. SO glad you fared well.

    1. Hi Gwen! I hear you on the ash. This year, not much ash be cause the winds blew it another direction. In 2007, the clean up outside and inside was pretty tough. Good luck and crossing my fingers that the winds stay down. Good luck with the clean up.

  3. Wow, how scary!! Glad everyone us safe and that your house is ok!!

  4. My heart jumped a little just reading this account of your close brush with the fire. How scary! Kudos on your well-thought-out evacuation plan and I'm glad your home was not actually touched.

  5. Thank goodness all is well. My SIL, fortunately was off work that day. She ran to get the kids at Aviara schools and evacuate. Meanwhile two houses around the corner on Blackrail burned and one a few doors down from her house. On their return home they found burned stumps of two plants in their yard. Neighbors who stayed to fight the fires put out these fires with a garden hose.

    This was both a stupid and brave thing the neighbors did as the neighborhood is full of cul de sacs. They could easily have gotten trapped, but at the same time their actions probably saved the neighborhood.

  6. How scary! I'm so glad to hear you and your family including the cats are o.k. Thank goodness for good neighbors and friends.

  7. I'm glad your family, cats, and house are okay. What a scary situation! You were very well prepared, and I'm glad you ate the foods that make you feel best during the stressful time! Great job!

    Beautiful photo!

  8. Hope you stay safe. Great plan and implementation of the plan too!

  9. Very scary indeed .....but glad to hear you are all ok.

    Take extra special care of yourselves

    All the best Jan