Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Gap Fire

The Gap Fire is burning in the hills north of our house. It started Tuesday afternoon and has been slowly and steadily moving down the mountains in our direction. Currently, it's 2-3 miles away. I think we are safe because there's a big avocado and lemon orchard between us and the wild lands where the flames are. Plus, I'd imagine Cathedral Oaks Rd. would be a good barrier, unless the winds pick up substantially.

The power went out last night during dinner and didn't come back on until past midnight. This morning I heard it was out for the entire south coast--that's 150,000 people! Note-to-self: go buy a battery-powered radio.

As the map shows, our little fire is pretty minor compared to the rest of the state, but it's always disconcerting to see flames from your front door. The area of the fire is up to 2,400 acres, ten times its size yesterday. Still minimal containment.

I took some pictures yesterday.

In the morning, all I could see from my street were wispy plumes of white smoke. It seemed as if they had knocked down the fire pretty good.

Then as I went out for my second recovery ride of the day, some spots had really flamed up and the smoke was thicker and darker. A lot of ash was raining down.

We went for a walk after dinner and saw that the fire had spread laterally along the mountains. Occasionally we'd see huge flare-ups which were probably big dry trees catching on fire.

Some nice homes up above Cathedral Oaks. Most of them now have a fire truck parked in the driveway to defend them if necessary.

The smokescreen cast an eerie orange light around the neighborhood.

A lot of spectators gathered at the end of our block. When the crowd grew to about 100 people, the CHP came through and told people to get off the road. The traffic was impeding the fire vehicles.

Mostly just white ash was falling from the sky, but occasionally we'd see entire burnt leaves like these. They were probably still burning while rising in the fire's updraft. The wind can carry them several miles before they float back to the ground. Of course the big fear is what could happen if they're still burning and they land on something flammable in the neighborhood!


jen said...

nice photos!

Steve Weixel said...

We've been evacuated at Patterson and Cathedral Oaks. I assume you guys have been too?

Marco Fanelli said...

Oh man, Steve, that sux. I hope it works out. We were worried that we'd get the call, but I think the winds pushed the fire your direction so this area south of C.O. is still ok. I just heard that the fire spotted across OSM last night and has now increased in size beyond the Painted Cave fire. Last night must have been rough. Air quality is horrible right now, but I might ride anyway. How about you?

Kk said...

I'm out of the TC too Marco...waiting for good news. Best of luck to everyone. Happy 4th!

anony-miss said...

we never got the reverse 911 call! Our neighborhood was a ghost town, and a sherrif told Steve that we were supposed to be evacuated already. We had power back, and the air was fine inside, so we were thinking of staying the night.

Anonymous said...

Air was nasty last night on Old SM and Painted Cave. I would be concerned tonight. Winds were over 50 on PC around 7pm. I watched the shed on the ridge above the Trout Club get evacuated just as flames were cresting. I would heed warnings. We noted spot fires right near 192 at 7. So flames on the crest right to 192. Some pics from yesterday afternoon/eve below. Staying home tonight. I ingested enough already. Don't know why anyone is riding and running in this stuff :-/


Marco Fanelli said...


As usual, your pictures are awesome. Do you have a big ol' lens, or are you just crazy in getting so close??

The air in Goleta is bad but this morning I rode south of SB (to hwy 150) and it was fine. Going out tonight is problematic... it might be ok, but you'd hate to get blocked out of your neighborhood if things turn worse. You wanna bet we lose power again?

Anonymous said...

New lens. Had to give it a test. Was on backorder for a long time. Seems to work OK ;-)

The air not bad at 2:30 near the top of OSM but after 4, I decided to cross the street and perch on PC as the wind was blowing the fire hard right down the mountain. Heading home at 7 though I had to duck under that ominous canvas of muck.

I didn't want to ride today after seing the airflow last night and now it's just blowing back. It might seem OK but that pm2.5 and smaller particulate stuff does do some damage. I feel a bit dazed today and am sure it's the smoke.

Last year I could feel the ash and smoke from Zaca in the fall and had to leave town for a few days and get into the marine layer of Big Sur. Not worth risking being sick from the smoke which I'm sure is a ton of poison oak. Let' sjust hope we don't get a fire south of us right now.