A blaze of story

Southern California is burning up. Again. best wishes to Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings. I just saw that evacuations are being issued for Chula Vista, where he lives.

My brother lives in San Diego county; he got a 6am robo-call saying No School and other local news alerts related to fires in the area. I always think about the things I’d take if I had to (bummer about that small car!). In his case, he keeps meaning to unearth a tape he made with our Grandpa. Er, this is a thought I have on his behalf, not a thought he has.

Also, the San Bernardino Mountain fire is threatening the family cabin. I think this is the third alarm. First was in 2003. We keep saying that the only thing worth keeping and saving are the three log books. Each visitor to the cabin writes in them. They date back to 1968.

I remember after the 2003 fires that ravaged San Diego County, I saw a news story about a library that ran a program that was a cross between oral history and writing your own life story (sorry, can’t remember which, tho I suspect the latter) as a way to help those who’d lived through it to heal and deal.

Me? I live in the San Gabriel Valley. It’s clear here, if I look at the mountains. If I look toward the greater L.A. basin, I see orange icky smoke smoke smoke. I haven’t had the high winds. I don’t see the smoke. But my heart is a-trembling over all the a-kindling that we are in dry, dry Southern California.

I leave town to go to the Oral History Association conference. I just want a clear road north. I’m thinking about packing, but not the drastic, evacuation packing. I fear that the number of things I’d want to take would be too much for my little car.

What would you take if you had to get out the door fast and didn’t know if you’d see your house again?

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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on October 22, 2007 in • MemorabiliaPersonal History
9 CommentsPermalink

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I’ve been twittering the San Diego fires all day long.  Feel free to watch my feed if you’d like: http://twitter.com/nateritter

nate  on 10/22  at  04:59 PM

Thanks for the update Susan. I’ve been worried about you and Randy for the last 24 hours. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

Jasia  on 10/22  at  05:56 PM

Thanks Jasia. You’re a doll. I’m doing more coverage of fires on my 2020 blog, but since there was a kinda known family historian connection (in memorabilia and in blogfriend), I figured it’d be worth a post here.

Susan A. Kitchens  on 10/22  at  06:37 PM

Nate, that’s very helpful. Very helpful indeed. Gulp. Encinitas. (yes, family there)

Susan A. Kitchens  on 10/22  at  07:37 PM

Hi Susan,

Thanks for the good thoughts.  We are still at home, and I suspect that we will not have to evacuate.  The city is difficult for a fire like this to burn through.  If the wind came up high in the city, you could get a fire storm effect where trees catch, ignite homes below, and the fire hopscotches westward to the bay or ocean.  We are about 6 miles from Eastlake, and about 12 miles from the closest fire line.

I have updated my post on Genea-Musings at 9 PM and have added posts at my Randy’s Busy Life blog (http://randysbusylife.blogspot.com) with the same info. 

There is precious little useful information about where the fires actually ARE at any given time - the latest I’ve heard is that the line is 4 miles from northeastern Eastlake now, which means it may take 10-20 hours or more to get there. 

My worst case scenario is that the fire will burn northwesterly up San Miguel mountain and then the wind will shift to the southwest and drive it down into Bonita and Eastlake.

Randy Seaver  on 10/22  at  09:04 PM

This looks worse than 2003. I had to go on a business trip then and got pictures from the plane showing the Simi Valley fire about 22 miles from my (then) home. Not a good time to be leaving family there.

Hard drives with everything on them are high on the list. I had considered a large RV (converted bus) at one point and I had thought that it would make the ultimate “escape vehicle” as you could have your backup server on it, pull the Ethernet cable from the bus and drive away. Currently in Aurora, Ontario, I do have a complete backup set in my neighbour’s basement. We don’t have risk of huge firestorms here.

Richard L. Hess  on 10/22  at  10:37 PM

I have two boxes a few feet from me with all my family’s photographs from when I was a kid, and selected ones from before that, as well as a number of photos of my wife’s family. That would go with me. And then I would pull the data drives from my Mac Pro. I have the computer set up to mirror our data directories as a RAID array, something that already saved me when a lightning strike damaged the computer this summer and proved the last straw for one of the disks in the array that was already on the brink of failing.

I’ve been distracted this week and only noticed today that southern California was ablaze, but the first thing I did when I found out was head to 20/20 Hindsight.  Glad to see that you’re okay; hope the cabin survives too.

ralph  on 10/24  at  02:03 PM

Thanks. There’s been fire on that street, and conflicting reports of “some houses burned” and “all the houses on that street are safe.” Actually, I’m glad for the previous fire scares, because I’m much more que sera sera about it this time around. To say nothing about being preoccupied with getting to the Oakland Oral History Association meeting. It’s been hard to get out of here. Prolly not good in light of the “what would you take if you had to leave in 15 minutes?” question.

Susan A. Kitchens  on 10/24  at  02:21 PM


I live on the East Coast, but I’m grateful that you are keeping us up to date on the fires in California, and the families affected by them.  You are in my thoughts and prayers.


Janice Brown  on 10/28  at  06:27 AM

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