So, I went to Toy Story 3 with my wife on Saturday (great movie by the way) and when we were driving out of the theatre we saw a plume of smoke that looked like it was rising out of the university campus. Turns out it was a couple miles east of the university, but still very near some homes and businesses. A number of houses and a hotel were evacuated. That was the Hardy fire – Saturday’s fire, with a number of homes and businesses evacuated. You could see the smoke coming off the ground, extremely close to town.
Then Sunday rolled around.
We were driving out east of town and saw a pretty decent sized pillar of smoke coming up off the north-east side of the mountains. An hour later it looked like a mushroom cloud, towering above the city, stretching up like a churning, tempestuous fist. The shot above is from our car window driving on the freeway south of town.
This one is east of town. Our house is right at the base of that mountain.
On the radio this morning they said at this point this second fire – the Schultz fire – is 0%contained and over 5,000 acres. Nine-hundred homes have been evacuated. Winds have been hitting fifty miles per hour and the location of the fire is basically in a heavily forested wind tunnel which opens up on a large residential neighborhood on the east of town. A number of people evacuated had to leave horses and livestock behind.
This morning the winds are still high and smoke is everywhere, hanging like smog over the town, and rising ominously above the mountains.
This video is shot from the flat, dusty east-side of town:
This is shot from the west side. It really looks like a mushroom cloud.
Winds are high, the ground brittle and dry, and monsoons are still weeks away. Here’s a shot from the Daily Sun, our local paper, of the fire from downtown.
CNN has some video of the fire and the efforts to contain it. Much of the area you see in these shots is the rural areas east of the city itself. The fire is in a pass between several mountains, and that pass basically serves as a wind tunnel. I feel fortunate because my house, though it is literally on the forest’s edge, is also on the south-western side of the mountain, and the winds are blowing the fire the other direction at least for now.
We had one week this winter where we had almost five feet of snow. Come summer, we have high winds and dry forests. It’s a lovely town, but this is starting to feel a little like end times.