Yesterday around 1 PM, Hubs and I packed up the car, locked up our Camarillo home, and hit the road for a hard-earned weekend away to recover from all the midterm madness and sadness connected with the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks yesterday.
As we were packing, we noticed the winds picking up speed and intensity. Ah, the Santa Ana winds, a staple of fall months forever. But these Santa Anas aren't like the ones I recall. They're hotter and drier, turning a coastal community into a desert.
We said a quiet prayer that there would be no repeat of the Thomas fire, got in the car and took off for the north just about the time reports of the fire up north near Paradise, CA -- the Camp fire -- were breaking. That fire was moving at a pace of 3 football fields per second. It blasted through a hospital, burned schools and countless homes in the blink of an eye. That fire is now responsible for at least 5 deaths.
About the time we hit Santa Barbara, a news alert popped up on my phone telling me there was an 800-acre fire in Santa Rosa, just to the east and south of Camarillo. Uttering a silent hope that a midday onslaught of helicopter drops and firefighters were ready to handle it, we continued on. Between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, it ballooned into a 7,000 acre fire (original reports said 10,000!), with yet another new fire outbreak farther south. SEVEN THOUSAND ACRES in about an hour. That's a firestorm, not a fire.
Our Camarillo fire was dubbed the Hill Fire; the later fire is the Woolsey Fire. The Hill fire blew up so fast that my son and daughter-in-law had to grab their cat and their "go bag" for the second time in five years and head for our house, located near the city center. It would, I believe, require a nuke to land on City Hall or something to set us on fire. I say that while knocking on wood, but... We're 50 yards from a lake on one side, a freeway on the other and homes on a valley floor, so that's a bonus too.
We breathed easier knowing our loved ones were safe, but...BUT. In less than a year, three fires have ravaged surrounding communities to ours. As I write, Malibu is being evacuated after the Woolsey fire jumped the 101 and races through the canyons for the second time in five years! It was just five years ago that a fire started in Camarillo and raced through Sycamore Canyon to the ocean -- the Springs fire. And that was in May, during unseasonal Santa Ana winds in MAY. Hot, dry, desert winds.
Climate change is real, friends, and it is HERE. If we do not take some serious steps to reverse it, we're all going to be living under domes -- if we're lucky. Clean air will be for the privileged and the rich. Clean water will be for those who can filter it.
If anyone doubts climate change is real, just watch that 2-minute video above. These fires are a hell on earth that threaten everything everywhere. It isn't just California. Yes, the Santa Anas are stronger, drier and hotter than ever before. But it is no different in the Southeast, where increasingly intense, wet hurricanes devastate communities, or in the Midwest, where the tornadoes are bigger and stronger than ever, chewing through entire communities in seconds.
We cannot allow the denial anymore. Man-made global warming is a national security threat and an emergency. We have to work at state and federal levels to defeat the forces of evil (yes, I mean to call them evil) who continue to put every single community in danger across this country in service to the great God Petrochemical.
I'm grateful to be in a safe place and know my family is safe today, but so many others are suffering. Natural disasters are a reality of life, but they don't have to be this intense and this devastating. That is entirely the fault of those who refuse to take steps to do something right now.
UPDATE: The Woolsey fire is completely out of control and bearing down on Malibu. The entire city has been ordered to evacuate.