San Diego Fires -- Checking In May 14, 2014 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Not sure where else to put this but I wanted to reach out to my fellow San Diego MeFites now that there are 9 fires around the county. Everybody okay? I'm between the Poinsettia and Bernardo fires and while I appear to be in a safe zone, my coworkers and friends are not since they're so much closer to the points of origin for each blaze. :(
posted by Hermione Granger to MetaFilter-Related at 6:03 PM (42 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

What happened? Thunderstorms? Or another round of arson?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:20 PM on May 14, 2014

I looked at the map and thought 'oh so those are all pretty far north.'

You can tell I'm from South Bay when I consider El Cajon 'pretty far north.'
posted by shakespeherian at 6:21 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

It appears to all be naturally occurring, but the cynic in me presumes that at least one is probably arson. We're in such drought mode that it was only a matter of time before something caught fire. 8 new blazes in one day is bizarre, though.

Shakes, I refer to El Cajon as "the south", lol. You've got a fire over by the 8 in Winter Gardens. Is it small enough that you're not seeing smoke?
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:42 PM on May 14, 2014

Up in Escondido here - not far from where the fires were, but they're out now, so we're safe.

I am really twitchy that this is only going to get worse. It's MAY and we're already getting Santa Ana wings and super hot weather, what is the late summer going to be like?
posted by FritoKAL at 6:48 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't live in San Diego anymore, but my family still does, so all my information is hearsay.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:52 PM on May 14, 2014

I also refer to El Cajon as the north. The shots on the news of the Lake Hodges and that El Cajon fire were pretty intense. Tomorrow is supposed to be the last of the Santa Anas for now so hopefully the winds will die down and they can put these fires out.

It is going to be a long summer.
posted by birdherder at 6:53 PM on May 14, 2014

What happened? Thunderstorms? Or another round of arson?

Usually with these things it seems like it's caused by humans, but accidental. Car backfires, faulty electrical lines, lost hunters starting campfires that get out of control, that kind of stuff. Occasionally it's arson. But we have a definite "fire season" here (that we're really still a couple months away from), and fires just happen every couple years; there's not a big "oh no what happened" kind of thing to them.

More precisely, we hardly got any rain this winter, and the weather the last couple days has been extremely hot, dry, and windy, so it doesn't really take much to set something off, and once that happens it spreads very quickly. Normally, we don't see this kind of weather until September - the average May and June day in San Diego is overcast with highs in the low 70s. Yesterday and today (and likely tomorrow) we're up around 100, beating previous record highs by 7 degrees or so.

Anyway, I'm fine, and I have fairly solid stretches of harder-to-burn urbanity surrounding me than a lot of people in the fire areas, so we'll likely be fine from here on out.
posted by LionIndex at 6:58 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Speaking of which, there's an AP photo I've seen that describes right now as normally being the middle of our rainy season, which is a pretty glaring mistake. We generally get rain here between December and March, with the odd storm scattered a month or two before or after that, but we generally get hardly any rain from May to October. Our average monthly total rainfall for May is .12", vs closer to 2" a month for the actual rainy season.
posted by LionIndex at 7:22 PM on May 14, 2014

It's probably just Google testing their neat fire tracker dealy.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:44 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Jesus, you guys. From my roof in Santa Monica I can see from Pt. Dume to PV. I was just up there and when I look to the south you can see the smoke. Be careful.

It's MAY and we're already getting Santa Ana wings and super hot weather, what is the late summer going to be like?

El Niño
posted by Room 641-A at 7:53 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm in Northern California, and we haven't had any major fires up here this year (yet), but I think this year is going to be dreadful. It was 2009 or 2010 when the fires in the Sierras were so bad that our air quality basically toxic for weeks. I'm afraid this year will be worse, given the non-winter we had.

Best to all of you in Southern California who are dealing with fires today. Please say a kind word for those of us up here too, because it will soon be our time.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:10 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

El Niño is correlated with a lower frequency of Santa Ana wind events, and an increase in precipitation in Southern Calfornia.

From your lips to God's ear.
posted by notyou at 10:06 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, the likelihood of an El Nino is up to 65% - they were holding at around 50% for long enough that I started thinking they just didn't know - and during this ongoing drought, in my area (which is in the "Exceptional Drought" zone), you never got more than a light drizzle unless the chance of rain was well over 50%. The term "horrific" in the link-baity title isn't too far off - the people who lived here during the 1997 El Nino told me (who didn't) that Horrific was a good word for it. But frankly, it'll probably take something 'horrific' to break the 'excptional' drought...

Anyway, there was a fire only a few days ago that started about a mile from my home, just off Highway 101 south of San Luis Obispo. Partly because of its very accessible location, it got knocked down in two hours with less than 10 acres burned, no structures lost, only a couple ever threatened, but a HELL of a traffic jam on the 101.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:53 PM on May 14, 2014

It's MAY and we're already getting Santa Ana wings and super hot weather, what is the late summer going to be like?

I literally pasted "Santa Ana wings" into Google before realizing it was a typo, after just explaining to my wife how the "Santa Ana Winds" made our flight out of OC so rough anyway, I just flew out of John Wayne airport today (third time in a year or so) and the turbulence was something else until we reached full altitude. Just throwing us all over the place; I had to Google "wind shear" and confirm that the Santa Anas cause a shitload of it and it specifically affects aviation; yep.

Never experienced it before at this airport, but on our flight in we were warned that it could be a bumpy ride and I could tell the pilot was taking a funky long approach in. The takeoff itself was strained and I've read too many Wikipedia articles about how certain weather phenomena like microbursts tend to annihilate planes during takeoff more any other time, so I had my right arm clutching my heart and was constantly reminding myself that usually it's a combination of more than just turbulence that takes out a plane, and I can't freak out in front of my was really building up, like to the point where I wanted to shout "IS THIS NORMAL, YO?"

I've never felt a plane really fishtail and get sheared from side to side in that fashion before; it was beginning to feel like the plane was going to be ripped in half, torn into a cross-section, or the wings were going to be sheared off. Everyone was just like "..." and my kids weren't fazed at all, probably because the adults did such a good job of masking our intense anxiety. Once it finally abated everyone was incredibly relaxed and hesitant to jinx anything by acknowledging just how intense it was.
posted by aydeejones at 11:00 PM on May 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

With the jarring side-to-side forces that really were the "climax" of the experience that felt like the hand of god batting us around like a kitten, I could literally feel in my feet the tension of the plane's hull being hit with forces on each side that were straining it in a way that made it feel like it was going to tear in half. It was surreal. And then when the wind would blast the belly of the plane upward, I could feel that too, just all of this rumbly oscillating mass and energy tumbling around. Yikes.
posted by aydeejones at 11:04 PM on May 14, 2014

/sheepish about typo
posted by FritoKAL at 11:39 PM on May 14, 2014

We've been evacuated. Last I could accurately gauge (hours ago) the fire was ~2 miles away. I thought we wouldn't have to evacuate, and then I thought our home wasn't really in danger, but I started having doubts around the time 8 fires were burning in the region. Our business may soon be threatened by a different fire.

Fire chief says this (timing and number) is unprecedented in his own experience, and that they'll be treating the fires like crime scenes until proven otherwise.
posted by moira at 12:12 AM on May 15, 2014

Crap, I hope your home is okay, Moira. I have been packing and unpacking all evening. I'm in a part of Encinitas that I really think is safe, but if more places are being evacuated, I don't really know what I should be doing.
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:39 AM on May 15, 2014

I have been packing and unpacking all evening. I'm in a part of Encinitas that I really think is safe, but if more places are being evacuated, I don't really know what I should be doing.

I felt all discombobulated about the whole thing, too. In the end, I didn't really have the time or ability to do much more than pack up the cat and his food, grab a few clothing and toiletry items, and take what electronics I could quickly bring with me. I'm regretting not bringing more toiletries than I did, and I have no entertainment for my little girl. Otherwise, we're pretty comfortable. It helps that we have generous friends who opened their homes to us.

My husband was able to drop by a bit later on his way in from work and grab some important papers and a couple of sentimental items. I'm glad he did.
posted by moira at 1:01 AM on May 15, 2014

My family is in the Encinitas area (Cardiff and Leucadia) What is the biggest danger there right now? They are near the coast but that Carlsbad fire looks awfully close.
posted by vacapinta at 2:23 AM on May 15, 2014

Here is the updated map. Not a whole lot more information unfortunately but they are starting to show perimeters.
posted by SLC Mom at 5:29 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think Cardiff is pretty safe. Leucadia isn't currently in danger, but who knows what today will bring. The Carlsbad fire was 50% contained by the middle of the night, and I'm hoping the morning's wind shift doesn't stoke it back up.

SLC Mom, thanks for that updated map. It's still frustratingly incomplete, but it's better than any I've found.

Burn zone has moved about a mile closer to our home. :(
posted by moira at 6:29 AM on May 15, 2014

We're selling my in-laws home in Escondido right now up by the 15 and the 78. For those of you who haven't been following, my FIL has Alzheimer's and my MIL has severe liver damage and we've moved them up to our place in Burbank. We're in escrow and the home inspection was finished on Tuesday. Please, please, please let Escondido be spared. I seriously cannot take the stress of having one more thing to deal with right now.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:21 AM on May 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ok, just looked at the map (thank you SLC mom) the evacuation area is about two miles on the other side of the 78. If things don't blow North, we should be ok.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:25 AM on May 15, 2014

I had the morning news on and there was footage of people running down the street, with the sky all orange and smokey. Christ.

It was really nice to leave the house yesterday evening without a jacket (a rare occurrence in San Francisco), but everything smells like it's ready to burst into flames if you look at it hard.

Hope all of you and your houses down there in SD stay safe.
posted by rtha at 8:01 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm in the uptown metro (university heights) so nothing's close by, although I had a crazy view of the scripps ranch fire from my backyard yesterday -- it's since been put out, thank goodness. I head out for a 3-week asia trip tomorrow evening and not that my presence here makes a difference, but I hate leaving when my city's on fire. at least my friends in san marcos know they can have my house while I'm gone. hopefully it doesn't come to that.
posted by changeling at 8:51 AM on May 15, 2014

hang in there. so scary.
posted by angrycat at 10:47 AM on May 15, 2014

Oh, crap. I am fine.

I briefly considered posting something like this MeTa myself but, basically, I had no internet for much of yesterday. That was the major impact it had on me. I ended up going to the beach for a bit, which is a good thing for me. So, annoying but no big deal for me at this time.

I was seeing folks getting calls and stuff because of fires near their house and folks on the phone arranging for emergency pick up of kids from school and things like that. So I am aware that there are other folks being impacted by this but, for me, so far the only impact has been lack of internet service for several hours yesterday.

The maps suggest I am in no immediate danger.
posted by Michele in California at 11:49 AM on May 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Our evacuation area has been reduced, and we get to go home. What a relief.
posted by moira at 11:59 AM on May 15, 2014 [8 favorites]

I just called my mom to let her know I am fine. And I thought, you know, I just spaced it but folks who have been evacuated and what not might want to make some calls and maybe have been too stressed to think of it.

((HUGS)) for anyone in need
posted by Michele in California at 1:43 PM on May 15, 2014

Our realtor's just been evacuated. Our neighborhood is next.
posted by Sophie1 at 3:38 PM on May 15, 2014

Evac zone is now across the 15 from us. Hopefully it won't cross it, but I'm certainly packing go bags and water and baby things just in case.
posted by FritoKAL at 3:43 PM on May 15, 2014

The Cocos fire looks terrifying.
posted by moira at 5:14 PM on May 15, 2014

I'm guessing this is what moira's talking about.
posted by LionIndex at 5:20 PM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I still lived on the East Coast when the Oakland Hills firestorm happened, and even though I know I saw lots of video coverage, I still really didn't understand how fast fires can move, or how fast they can change direction, until I moved here to the Bay Area and experienced the terrain and the weather and all for myself. I'm keeping you all in my thoughts; please run before you have to, if you can.
posted by rtha at 5:33 PM on May 15, 2014

Jumping in late - drove through the plume for the Camp Pendleton fire, and it was pretty surreal. In terms of what caused the fires, I know the Camp Pendleton fire was caused by an auto accident that resulted in a car explosion.
posted by idealist at 1:11 AM on May 16, 2014

So, despite telling mom to keep dad away from the TV, she somehow allowed him to find a news channel. Dad went ballistic last night wanting to drive down to Escondido to defend his empty home from the raging fires. We had major, major crisis management last night because no one was willing to drive him down. All of us are in cahoots with the insurance industry or something. If he had any access to keys or a credit card or remembered how to use a phone, I'm not sure we could have kept him in Burbank. Ultimately, it was seroquel for the win and he doesn't remember any of it this morning. Fuck, I really hate fucking Alzheimer's.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:43 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ah, Sophie, I hope the house is alright.
Big hugs.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:36 PM on May 16, 2014

We're in PB and well out of the fire zone. Here's hoping that everyone gets to return to a secure home.

Upthread someone asked how these started. Looks like the fires in Kit Carson were arson. Thankfully those didn't bloom into a full blaze. Juvenile, Adult Arrested for Starting Small Brush Fires in Escondido.

Arson? I don't even...
posted by 26.2 at 4:10 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I heard one was started by a car fire, which is not uncommon. Anyway, I just popped in to say that I hope the cooler weather is making a difference in the containment efforts.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:02 PM on May 17, 2014

Yeah, so far it looks like one was started by a car fire, one by construction equipment, 1-2 small fires in Escondido by arson (I don't think these really made the news, aside from the arrest), and possibly one in Oceanside by arson (a man was spotted feeding brush to a fire, and was arrested). I wouldn't be surprised if one or more were due to people throwing cigarettes out their car windows. I read that several started roadside.

Humidity is up from single digits to 80ish% today, and the wind is cooler and calmer. Several of the fires are mostly or fully contained, and many evacuations have been lifted. Firefighters seem to be getting the upper hand. They must be exhausted.
posted by moira at 5:37 PM on May 17, 2014

Well, humidity is lower than 80 inland, but still significantly higher than it was.
posted by moira at 5:53 PM on May 17, 2014

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