Last night I had to evacuate my family in the middle of the night due to a fire. As a former resident of San Diego, where fires are common and specifically a product of the Scripps Ranch High School class whose families were greatly impacted by the historic Cedar Fire, I have always considered fires a real threat. Thus the evening events went semi-predictably for a chaotic event.
At about 8PM after putting the kids to bed, I noticed some incredibly strong winds. I went out to see if a tree might be in danger of falling on my house. I also noted the unusual fact that there wasn’t any clouds in the sky. This indicates dryness, which, when combined with the wind, is a practically a given that a fire is going to break out.
At about 9:30PM the wind continued to alarm me as unknown items fell outside and a few even smashed into the house. I secured a ladder that had been blowing around and brought in anything that could be blown in a dangerous manner. I distinctly remember trying to smell for any signs of a fire, and I did not.
At about 11PM I emailed my father noting the intense wind and lamented the potential danger of a fire or falling tree.
At about midnight, power became intermittently out. Again, no smell of smoke to me, even when I went outside.
I went to bed about 1AM but never feel asleep (a problem for me lately).
At about 2:30 I was alerted of a fire. Going outside, the smoke was unmistakable and a bright orange glow was off in the distance. Most disturbing was that the wind was blowing directly from the direction where the fire was, putting us right in its path. Other neighbors were out with everyone ensuring that everyone else was aware of the issue (nice to know people do that in times of crises!). I began to execute the “GO PLAN”, which really wasn’t too sophisticated, but I had a short list of immediate things to grab.
My kids wokeup before I intended to grab them due to the commotion. I showed them the fire and they behaved as one would expect a 4 year old and 6 year old. Excitement. Nervous. Small fits of panic. Fighting over who gets what color flashlight. However, by and large, they were cooperative and “calm enough.”
At about 3AM with kids in the car I left the house. No more than a minute into the drive, I filmed the below video and posted it on Youtube. I make quick videos like this pretty frequently mostly for the kids to review when they are older, but I rarely publish publicly. However, for this one, I’d gotten two funny replies from both of them, so I decided to share with the world. I didn’t realize it at the time, but of course filming children while escaping a wall of fire while they amusingly talk about “Freaking out!” and “Saving Kitty” is click bait if there ever was any! So it got some views pretty quick.
Later in the day a guy from ABC Media messaged me asking for permission to use the video, which I granted. He also put me in touch with some guy from Good Morning America. The GMA rep was nice enough, but when he heard I didn’t have the kids with me for an interview, I was written off as boring (EVALUATION = TRUE!). I was also pretty nonchalant about my escape to (“no our shoes were not melting or anything interesting…”), so he looked for a more interesting story — which, tragically, there were plenty of.
Anyway, what was interesting about the YouTube post is that I got a bunch of dislikes early on. Strangely a video I made about a year ago equating Donald Trump to “Mr Punish And Enslave” and Hillary Clinton to “Mrs. Corrupt” has NO dislikes! The nature of the video is politically neutral and addresses the inoffensive topic of Instant Runoff Voting, but not a single dislike a year later, while my children evacuation video has 6!?? I’m guessing it’s because I said I’d “cut some people off” and mocked the “Texting and driving laws” although I intended to point out that I wasn’t sure if filming and driving was illegal (I keep meaning to check if writing a letter while driving is against the law!)
The final curious observation with Youtube was the comments I received. About 80% were very nice and wished well. However, there was a noticeable number of individuals who made the creative assertion that the peril I was facing was a direct result of me failing to attend their church, an evil conspiracy from a GMO corporation, or because the government was using Chemicals to poison people. Youtube intelligently filtered most of these and requested I grant permission before posting (I approved the anti-government one… I figured his heart was in the right place!).
Anyway, it’s now about 36 hours later: While I haven’t returned, I’ve heard several reliable confirmations that my house/street survived.
However about a mile away there appears to have been some pretty heavy devastation. Specifically, a trailer park got decimated and 10 people died which is only about 1.25 miles from me (I run by it, hence the accuracy).
In general, this is looking like it’s a pretty serious event for my small town. Lots of damage. Looting apparently has been an issue too, which is sad, but predictable given the nature of some people.
I’m in no rush to return to a city with a spike in crime, bad air, and not a lot of immediate resources like food and water.
Tragic that some people lost their lives. Unimaginable to think about the victims or what the people that knew them are going through.
Thanks for the kind wishes for all that sent them. Thinking back, I don’t think I did anything special. From a numbers standpoint, I’m guessing about 99.99% of grownups that were in my situation with children would have gotten away unscathed. I did remember to bring a couple key travel items, but overall just another day of #DadLife!