Red Flag Days

It’s been an interesting couple of days. A noisy couple of days, with the constant sound of helicopters and airplanes filling the skies.

We woke up Monday morning to very gusty winds. A Red Flag Warning had been issued for our area. Contrary to what you might think, this has nothing to do with a potential Soviet Union invasion (because this isn’t 1984). It refers instead to weather conditions that are ripe for fire. Warm temperatures, low humidity, strong winds.

Wrong type of red flag.

As far as self-fulfilling prophecies go, this one turned out to be a doozy. Shortly after 9 a.m., I noticed a funny-looking cloud outside my office window. My stomach dropped when I realized this was no cloud, but rather, smoke. With 75-mph winds whipping and bone-dry vegetation, this did not bode well.

Hey, that’s no cloud…

Within an hour, the fire had exploded and homes were being evacuated. This was the scene from Skyline Drive overlooking my ‘hood.

Our home was never in danger, even though the fire was only a few miles away. There’s a lot of urban corridor between us and the forested canyons that were burning. But I appreciate the outpouring of concern from family and friends. And when another fire sprang up near Keystone in the Black Hills, prompting Mount Rushmore to close, we made national news.

They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but I’m not so sure about that.

Last night was pretty surreal. We could see flames from our bedroom window. Today, on my lunch hour, I drove to Canyon Lake, about two miles from our house. The road there kinda resembled the highway to hell, if said highway were paved with cupcake shops, hair salons, and liquor stores instead of good intentions.

Jackson Blvd. leads right by our house.

Highway 44 was closed just past Canyon Lake, because the fire was (is) raging in Cleghorn Canyon just west of there. I was not expecting to see this.

National Guard Black Hawk helicopters were filling 660-gallon drums of water from the lake to dump on the fire. Every few minutes a new one would swoop in. I was so close to the action, I got sprayed with water when the bucket dropped at one point. Totally worth it for the shot! The choppers would fly off to join air tankers dropping red fire retardant on the flames. It was all quite the show.

As of this evening, the winds are dying down (finally) and the fire is 50% contained. Hats off to all the first responders battling the fire. They deserve a few hundred gold stars apiece.

Kind of an exciting-but-scary start to the week. I’m ready for boring and humdrum now!

21 thoughts on “Red Flag Days

  1. How frightening. I saw it on the news and thought of you. Glad to hear it didn’t touch your neighborhood. My husband used to work for the NC Forestry Department and flew on those water scooping helicopters. A wild ride for sure….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After decades of watching red flag warnings and seeing flames and smoke, this is all very familiar to me. Fire forecasts are just part of the SoCal meteorological forecast.

    We also have many neighborhoods of concrete and steel between us and flames, although one idiot started a fire on the hillside near us with fireworks last New Year’s Eve. Apparently they’d never heard of a red flag warning, either.

    Glad you are safe. Great pictures, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! If there’s one group of people who know all too well what a Red Flag Warning is, it’s Californians. I lived in the Bay Area eight years and lost track of how often those words were included in the weather forecast.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s some excitement that nobody needs. I’m confused by the bone dry vegetation? Didn’t you just have a massive snowstorm a few weeks ago?

    Hope it’s fully contained soon and that you guys stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reading this a few days after the fact and am hoping all is well, that those flags have been put back into storage. I’ve lived in areas with uncontrolled flooding, but not wild fires. I’d be scared.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’ve got the fire about 50% contained as of last night. But guess what? A new Red Flag Warning has been issued for today. Hope that doesn’t screw up containment efforts (or worse, spark a new blaze).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That is so scary. Several years back, when fires were springing up all over, blocking every possible escape route except into the ocean, I don’t remember every being so scared. So, I feel your pain on this. Totally neat to see the helicopters, though!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Seeing flames from your bedroom window is next level terror. For me, all the hotels were full up with evacuees, so, we’d basically have been screwed. The air was dark and bad for days. Work was canceled for, like, two weeks? It was nuts.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I do not remember Fire seasons being so severe when I was a kid in Denver. Now I live in a different world and red flags mean high surf and strong undertow so swimmers and small crafts take caution, or don’t go out at all. Which leaves more of the beach and lake front for us surfer types anyway. There is no good side to Red flags in the mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

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