Today's post comes from Insurance Scouts employee Jane Lawton.
On the weekend of October 26th, I had planned a surprise party for my mother. I had been planning this party since August -- 55 people had accepted and I was running the event. y mother lives in the west part of San Fernando Valley, located in Los Angeles. I live a few miles south of Mammoth Lakes, in Crowley Lake. My usual route to visit my Mom included Highway 14 through Lancaster/Palmdale then the Simi Valley 118 freeway. On October 10th, the Saddleridge Fire broke out near Santa Clarita. The sadness of the loss and evacuees weighed heavily on me, and of course I wondered how I was going to get to the party. The firefighters worked diligently to douse that fire. What a relief.
But on October 24th, the day before I was schedule to drive down to Southern California, the Tick fire broke out in the Santa Clarita Valley and an ember hit the area. This closed the 5 freeway north of Valencia and the 14 freeway from Palmdale through Acton for about 10 miles. Now what? On Friday morning I woke up to hear the 5 was open, but sadly the 14 was still closed. So many evacuees again…
I drove south on 395, to the 14 through Mojave and then the 138 across Lancaster to Gorman area north of Valencia. On my route, I saw so many evacuees waiting for word to be able to go home. In the Castaic area near the Lake Hughes exit, right below a line of homes on a ridge, I saw a blanket of the red fire retardant dropped by a plane or helicopter. It was maybe 50 feet from the 5 freeway. All the homes looked intact. Impressive!
I finally made it to my Mom’s with the surprise still in safe… The party on the 28th went beautifully. Among the conversations was talk of the fires… so many, so close together. And so many accolades to the fire-fighters. My brother and sister-in-law drove down from Santa Rosa to surprise our Mom and received a call right before noon on Saturday that their area was being evacuated. They drove all the way back to help my other brother’s family evacuate from Windsor and my niece from Healdsburg, and along with friends they hunkered down in the west part of Santa Rosa while more of the wine country burned.
Sunday we rested. Monday I was going home through my regular route on the 14 freeway. Monday I woke up early to pack and there it was… the Getty Fire, just over the hill from my Mom’s house, depending on the wind direction. So I decided to wait and make sure she was safe. Then a call came in from the Lost Hills Sheriff Department, in Calabasas. The 101 freeway was closed due to a vegetation fire and we were in a volunteer evacuation area.
As I prepared for us to evacuate, I thought of the poor firefighters and our resources in California. This can’t be our future. In one week, I was affected by 6 fires, and yet there were others that were burning in San Bernardino area. I took a breath as the fires were slowly contained. And then a few days later, on October 30th, two more fires broke out... one in Simi Valley and another in Calabasas. While one was contained the other is still burning towards Moorpark area. With the help of goats, maybe that will be out soon.
I have never looked forward to rain and snow as I do this fall. The firefighters need a break. The land needs a break. The people in the fire-hit and fire-prone areas need a break… California needs a break.