Friday, September 4, 2009

living under the smoke

This Friday night sure feels different than the last Friday night. Last week, the fire was closer, there were visible flames and the smell of smoke in our house, and friends were leaving their homes (some were mandatory evacuation, some voluntary) to sleep where they could breathe. Today, the air quality has improved to moderate, the fire and smoke have moved east of here, and friends are home safe.

Last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the smell of smoke was unbelievably strong. The huge pyrocumulus cloud over the mountain was towering above us, with its base of gray-brown-orange and its top of fluffy bright white. It was mesmerizing. It was eerie and ominous. It was strangely beautiful.

The smell of smoke was so overpowering that I woke up Sunday morning nauseous and headache-y. The temperature outside was over 100 degrees, so we had the central air running all day. That filtered the air so that we could tolerate it. We could not stand to be outside. The AQMD listed the air quality as "hazardous."

A photo I snapped from The Boy's room of a medium-sized pyrocumulus cloud on Monday

Tuesday was a little different. The smell of smoke was not as strong as it had been. I could not see a pyrocumulus cloud, just grey cloud cover. Except it was not cloud cover, it was the smoke formation on top of us, so that I couldn't see it looking up into it. It stayed that way all of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Finally on Friday (this morning), we woke up to blue sky over our house! And we could see the smoke cloud again, over to the east a bit.

A photo I took on Friday - again I missed it when it was big

On Wednesday morning I heard on NPR that the fire crews had done some work in the hills in our old neighborhood! The Boy and I took a drive up there to see what was going on, since we couldn't see the mountains from our new house through the smoke cover. The fire crews had bulldozed a fire line straight up the mountain from the our old neighborhood. It was 20-30 feet wide, and very striking. (Of course the photo is very hazy from the smoke!)

The fire was still on the north side of the ridge, and evacuations had not been ordered for the area, so our old neighborhood looked fine. We drove a bit farther east to do some errands, observing the smoke plume along the way.

I stole the following images off of the internet (taken with good cameras!):

The view of the mountain last weekend. Taken by Laurie.

A picture taken from south of downtown Los Angeles. Normally, the San Gabriel Mountains would be the backdrop of this photo! (I think I found this picture in the photo gallery.)


Cafe Pasadena said...
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Margaret said...

Sad, sad, sad, sad, sad. At least our blue sky is back. At least here.

Jen on the Edge said...

I can't imagine living with the threat of fire so close by. I'm glad you all are okay and that the air quality is improving so that you can breathe.