Less than 300 yards could have changed my life.
I live in a tinder box, I mean national forest full of dying trees. Ten years ago, we had a fire that destroyed an area larger than Detroit in less than a week. Hundreds of homes were lost. So when you see fire, your heart skips a few beats.
The smoke was behind the trees across the street, and I didn't hear any fire engines. I was the first to report the fire. My husband drove over with a fire extinguisher and came back in a hurry. "Total madness. Pack. Now. We need to leave" he yelled. So we packed clothing, two large dogs, two angry cats, and two young children in record time. As we pulled away, a parade of fire trucks passed us by. A mile away, we could look back and saw a huge glowing area that was our neighborhood. I don't have words for what I was feeling or thinking. As I saw the trees light up and the fire crown, I knew from history that it meant nothing good. The Santa Ana winds whipped at gusts of up to 60mph, fanning the flames and sucking all humidity away.
We left town and frantically checked the internet, fire logs, scanner traffic until we heard that the flames had died down and all we had to worry about were embers. Exhausted, we made our way back home, not sure if we had a home.
We did. Three homes were destroyed, less than 300 yards from my home. I feel awful for the residents who lost their homes.
It happened in a matter of seconds. Had my husband not looked out the window, we would not have known about the fire until the engines roared past, fifteen minutes later. Had the fierce winds blown a different direction, the fire would have gone our direction and we may not have known it until it was too late, because the flames were hiding behind bushy trees over 100 feet high.
Here you can see the smoke, I took this photo while on hold with 9-1-1. Then, the flames a mile away as we had already evacuated.