Summer is Hell. Saturday, July 25th

I sit here this evening listening to Cal-fire planes fly in and out of our little Nevada City/Grass Valley airport, refueling before heading back into the inferno.  One after the other; they're busy.  We like hearing them, knowing they're fighting a fire that's way too close for comfort.  We're not in danger at our house.  Repeat, not in danger, and hopefully that situation won't change.  But others are, and this is a dangerous wildfire.

Our day began with our usual morning visit to Nevada City's farmer's market.  We bought familiar goodies, plus maybe one or two extras, and we also chatted with our friend, Marlene, at her mushroom booth.  She invited us to come out to the farm this afternoon so we could see their new bee hive.  After a short afternoon walk on the canal trail, we drove up the mountain.

Through a gap in the tall trees, off to the southeast and in a canyon, I spotted a plume of smoke and my heart sank.  "Uh-oh," I said to Jimmy ..."fire."  

In the few minutes it took us to drive the rural road to their farm, the smoke column had doubled in size.   We walked out to the garden where Marlene and her daughter were picking peaches. We mentioned the fire. Neither had seen it yet, and were shocked when they turned around and saw the smoke.  The bees and peaches were forgotten as we trooped up to the house.  Cliff was moving cars to enact a quick getaway should it be needed. Power was out, all over Nevada City (including our house), so no water pumps were usable. (double thumbs down)  We got on Yubanet's site to see what we could learn.  The fire was being called the Lowell fire.  Smoke seemed to be drifting away from their place, but huge clouds of smoke billowed into the sky.

Cal-fire is on top of it -- spotter planes, tanker drops, and helicopters carrying ground crew.  Later on we learned that a VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) had been called in from nearby McClellan AFB.  We saw it flying almost overhead on its way; the dang thing is huge.  Hooray!  Another VLAT is flying in from Washington State.

Some were less concerned than others.  Sweet Sam.

We sat in lawn chairs and then we got up and walked back and forth, trying to ascertain if the fire was coming closer.  It was decided that if we saw flames, we'd leave.  Certainly Jimmy and I would.  Marlene's daughter and grandkids left.  The wind blew in our faces and then backed away.  Great dark clouds of smoke would suddenly flare and we'd wonder. Jimmy and I stayed till after 5, riveted to the scene, fascinated in a terrifying sort of way. The fire seemed to be blowing up a canyon, not toward the farm, but still ....  When it seemed "safe" for us to take off, that we wouldn't be needed, we made our way back down the hill, home.  Our power was back on.

Just plain scary.

My last photo of the smoke drifting over their home, over their farm.  The top (header) photo I took as we made our way down the hill on our road.  The last update from Yubanet is that this fire has grown to 4,000 acres and is 0% contained.  I wish I could tell you it was knocked down, but no can do yet.  Yubanet says that "air operations are winding down for the night, but ground resources will work throughout the night, both to build lines and to provide structure protection."  An air quality health advisory has been issued for our area.  I'll close windows before going to bed.

We are still in no danger, thank goodness, but mandatory evacuations have been issued for further up our mountain.  I bid you all goodnight, and will update on the fire tomorrow.  Hopefully I'll be able to say the fire is contained and everyone is safe.


  1. Tough stuff, Nickie, fires in the dry mountains and foothills in that part of California flare up so quickly and are so incredibly scary. There were two big ones when I lived in Sonora, but as you said, they seem to run up the canyons,with the winds and air flows, so hopefully you will remain safe. Still doesn't make it any less scary. Hopefully the smoke will continue to blow the other way as well for you. Take care and hugs to you. Fires, volcanoes, and earthquakes. western stuff is a bit different than hurricanes, tornadoes and floods I guess, still, all scary and hard to deal with.

  2. Wildfires ... terrifying and yet fascinating. I get that ... there was a fire in the Canadian Rockies when we were in Jasper in 2009. We were in no danger, yet just seeing the "red" in the big, thick plume of smoke sent a frisson of alarm through us. All the same, we couldn't stop watching it. We saw the helicopters whizzing down to the river to fill their buckets and go back over the mountains to dump their load, repeating the process over and over. Looking at the size of the plume, it looked like their efforts to contain it was such a futile attempt ... like David fighting Goliath ... but we all know who won that one.

    Hope everyone stays safe ... looking forward to hearing that the fire is contained.

  3. I was in Yellowstone during the great fire of 1988. Very scary stuff indeed, especially when it is so close to home. Good luck!

  4. Fire is terrifying! Especially where you live. Please to keep us posted, and we are all praying for firefighter success.....

  5. Hope it has been contained. Be safe!


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