Friday, July 19, 2013

Mountain Fire

No matter where you are in the US, if you've seen the national news, you may have heard about the "Mountain Fire".  The news said last night that it has become the number one priority fire in the country.  Why am I blogging about it?  Because the mountain that this fire is burning is one of my favorite places on earth.

Our beloved Mount San Jacinto has been burning...raging out of control...since Monday.  It started near the small mountain community of Mountain Center and quickly spread to hundreds of acres. Then, over night, it doubled to over 800 acres.  The next day it was over 1,400.  Now, it's over 22,000 acres!  The terrain is steep and wooded and that makes it hard to fight.  The brush up there is dry and many of the trees have been killed by beetles, leaving a lot of dry, dead fuel.  On top of that, we've had triple digit temps.  I heard on the news that at times the fire fighters have had to deal with 130f degree heat because of the temps and the fire.  Horrible!

Up until yesterday they could only manage to get 10% control of this fire.  We got the tiny bit of good news yesterday that management has grown to 15%.  That's good but not nearly enough.  The wonderful community of Idyllwild has been under mandatory evacuation for a few days and will remain so today, maybe longer.  The fire is also heading down the backside of the mountain toward the Palm Springs area.  I heard this morning that it has burned at least three of the Mount San Jacinto peaks.

I've been glued to my cell phone and computer all week trying to keep up on the latest news about this fire. I recently signed up on Twitter and have found it very useful in this situation.  I've also found some websites that have been very helpful.  I refresh them throughout the day to get the latest info.  If you're interested, here are some of them...the maps on THIS one show the area that has burned...looks like almost half the mountain at this point.  THIS one offers helpful information regarding the Idyllwild community.  THIS one has maps, weather info, numbers of aircraft and personnel fighting the fire, etc.

I've been enjoying this beautiful mountain since I was a child when my parents took my brother and I up there to camp.  As an adult, I've been enjoying going up there to camp, hike, mountain bike, dine, escape the heat, relax, have coffee, stay at a bed and breakfast, shop and just escape the hustle and bustle of everyday.  It's takes less than an hour to drive up there and we can see it from our home town.  In fact, we were up there just a week before the fire.  We packed a picnic lunch and headed up there with our dog, Salsa, to escape the heat and relax at Hurkey Creek.  We had a wonderful day!

Over the years, I've blogged about many of our adventures on Mount San Jacinto and the Idyllwild area.  If you're interested in seeing some of the beauty and fun that can be had up there, you can click over to visit my post about our hike on the Devil's Slide trail about a year ago.  Or, our hike up to Tahquitz Peak and the fire lookout station.  What a hike that was!  I've been wanting to go back up there again.  I sure hope it's still there after the fire.  And, I hope the trails will still be open and not all burned up.  Oh, how I wish there wasn't a fire on our mountain!  I'd love to be standing here again right now...

HERE'S a post I did about a wonderfully relaxing day spent in a grassy meadow under some trees.  Ahhhh!  We've spent a lot of time camping up there.  Even Salsa likes going up there, as you can see in THIS post.  And, I can't leave out winter...  We love driving up there to see the snow, enjoy a hot cup of coffee or cocoa and marvel at the beauty.  I'll never forget the time we drove up and saw all of these beautiful red meadows on a chilly, snowy, rainy, winter day....HERE'S that post.

There's a chance of rain in the forecast for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  We could sure use it! But, the forecast is for thunderstorms and lightening is something we definitely can do without!  I hope they'll be able to start making bigger progress in stopping this fire over the next few days.  And, most importantly, that they'll be able to save the community of Idyllwild.  It breaks my heart that this is happening and I've shed tears over it.  We always know that fire is possible anywhere but we sure never would have imagined one fire taking so much of this mountain that we love.  I can't wait for it to be out so we can go up and see what has been spared.  I hope that much less has burned than it seems!

If you're anywhere within driving distance of the San Jacinto Mountains and Idyllwild, please consider going up and supporting the community when this is all over.  Not only have the businesses lost out on a lot of business this week (especially since the evacuation) but I bet restaurants and the grocery store will have to throw away a lot of food.  That will hurt them too.  You won't regret taking a trip up there.  It's a beautiful and wonderful area.  There are miles and miles of hiking and biking trails, lots of wonderful bed and breakfasts, restaurants, shopping, and more.  Oh...and, they've had the best mayor anywhere....Mayor Max...he's a dog!  You can read the heart warming story HERE.

Please keep the residents, the fire fighters, the wildlife and our mountain in your thoughts and prayers.


Art and Sand said...

I once took 150 kids all the way from Ventura to Mt. San Jacinto on a 1 day field trip. The kids loved riding the tram up to the top. Some went hiking with a ranger/guide and there was still snow in May. It was a wonderful memory.

Fires are a fact of life here in California, but I hate to see them happen.

gilly said...

What an emotional post - I can tell just how passionate and sad you are about this beautiful mountain and even though I live far away and don't know it at all, your post brought a tear to me. So I will pray and keep this special place in my thoughts.
Thanks for sharing the story,
hugs xx

Cindie said...

Oh I do feel for you after having lived through a huge fire, 500,000 acres 11 years ago here in Southern Oregon. I've been watching your fire on the news, it breaks my heart to think of all those losing their homes, possible loss of life, and habitat. I'm so glad you have found good sites for updates, the not knowing what's going on is so stressful. I will keep good thoughts flowing from here that the storms bring much needed rain and not dry lightening.

Miss LindaLee said...

I have been keeping these fires and communities and the people involved in my prayers for so long. I've been praying for the emergency crews safety as well as the home owners. I cannot imagine what all of you are going through. Here in this area of NC, we have controlled burns because there is so much woodland. If we had a fire out of control here, we would lose so many homes and businesses, as well as beautiful natural areas. I'll be continuing to pray for the areas that are involved in fires now, but will be a little more specific when it comes to your mountain.

LindaLee from
CrossN' My Stitches

kathyinozarks said...

I can feel your passion for this area, it hurts even more when we have a connection.
I live in the woods-and fires are scarey-real scarey when you are out there fighting to save your home-we were able to turn the fire back into the woods-happened one of the first years we had moved here.
fires are a tool of nature though-so sad to say-and us humans are just in the mix-sad to say.
my heart goes out to all in its path may they all be safe

Roxie said...

The earth recovers. Mt. St Helen's is covered with trees again. They're still little trees, but they're growing!